Since being in Thailand, I have ridden on a bus, a train, a tuktuk (a three-wheeled moped taxi), an actual taxi, a boat, a songthaew (a pick up with passenger seating on the bed of the truck), a mini van, the back of a motorbike, and my own two feet, but I haven’t driven myself anywhere in almost three weeks.
I decided that was going to change. I would never have have considered it in Bangkok or Chiang Mai - the traffic is insane, the drivers potentially more so, and the kicker, they drive on the left side of the road. Yesterday I rented a “motorbike,” looked like a moped to me, but it was my ticket to freedom, all for $8 a day - less than a songthaew one way.
I started the motorbike, tried to adjust in my mind what a right and left hand turn might look like, and set out for the beaches on the eastern side of the island. I have to admit to being a little scared with the trucks, tons of other motorbikes, and my demonstrated lack of direction, but I made it. The beach, Chaweng, was a beautiful stretch of white sand. The crowds…less beautiful. Music pumped out onto the beach, euro-partiers everywhere…it was a quite a show and in a way, fun to observe on the sidelines.
I brought the motorbike home before dark. I decided I wasn’t brave enough to drive at night. This morning, after a quiet breakfast in my little fishing village, I thought maybe I could venture even further. I set our for the waterfalls in the center of the island.
After 40 minutes, I turned on the road towards the waterfall. There were some very touristy options, including a 4-wheeler ride to the base of the falls. I turned it down and started hiking up a dirt road, then over a bamboo bridge and once again followed a rope trail up the rocks. I’ve decided ropes lead to good places. The upper falls were deserted. It was quiet and cool. I sat in pool under the falls, until I was ready to try the beach again.
I drove to Lamai Beach on the southeast coast, and paid for a day pass to a resort on a secluded stretch of beach. Lounge chairs, pools, quiet, drinks delivered… a huge contrast to the life I have been lucky enough to have had the last few weeks, but it was the perfect end to my stay on the island.
When I got back to Bophut, I turned in the keys to my motorbike and tomorrow I head back to Bangkok (minivan, ferry, bus, train….).