Thailand : the ups and downs of Doi Inthanon

Doi Inthanon is a national park in northern Thailand an hour from Chiang Mai. If you are in a car. If you are on the wasp, a small yellow and black scooter, it is two and a half hours including a  coffee and shaking-in-fear break.

It is not easy to write humorously about traumatizing experiences. But I didn’t know it was traumatising until afterwards. Until now really.

By the time I got on my scooter to hit highway 108 south of Chiang Mai, I had been travelling alone for five weeks. I was feeling isolated, and was in constant pain from my chronic back condition.  In no mood to go out and meet people,  I thought a road trip would be a great idea, as I did not need to speak to a soul. And I didn’t. For the entire three day trip, apart from asking in key words and sign language to switch to an AC room, no words passed my lips.

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Getting home from Yogyakarta

When I was in my late 20’s and hadn’t yet passed my driving test, I bought a scooter. A cream Vespa, with a matching cream box and a 125cc nippy engine so I could zoom off from the lights like Evel Kineval. I wore a  petrol blue PVC wet look mac and sixties boots and thought I was pretty cool. I used to park it up near the nursery. I would push Daisy’s buggy, laden with her baby paraphernalia, her lunch, my lunch, my bag full of teaching folders, up the hill in Brighton, all the way to Young Sussex Daycare. I would dump all the stuff and then peel off the rain cover of my scooter and jump on it and speed off.

I lost my cool a few times as I couldn’t reach the ground with both feet at once, so sometimes the scooter would tip from under me and slide over, sometimes on top of me, sometimes on black ice. Usually, I was wearing heels. I would cry then and have to get a passer-by to help me lift the scooter back up and then I would get back on it, a bit wobbly, with ripped tights. It was worse when it happened in the school carpark as year 10 would be watching and laughing at me. But in general, I was scooter-pro.

Almost 20 years later and here I am in Java, Indonesia. It is 35 degrees outside and I am staying in a house in a village which is not next to a row of shops where there is food. The only way to not have to walk for an hour in the heat is to use the scooter parked outside. How hard can it be I think – I was ace twenty years ago, on my cream Vespa.

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