BootsnAll Travel Network

Goodbye Amo thanks for not getting me killed.


It’s been a good ride but it was time to dump Amo. Originally, I wanted to give her to a well deserving farmer. As one of my original plans was to head north via China, I would have easily been able to find a local farmer to give her to. As I was leaving out of Bangkok, and staying in town, finding a farmer was not so easy. There was always the option of selling her, but as it tends to be a hassle I looked for alternative deserving person. One of the more comfortable places that I found in Bangkok was the hotel where I stayed. I had stayed there about four different times and the people had always been kind and welcoming. The Sukhiwat hotel was one of my personal favorites, the old Chinese style sprawling place that was fairly worn, but mainly from daily scrubbings versus just falling apart. Like many of these places, it was family run with a bunch of workers who worked and lived there. They ranged from the 70 year old lady who did most of the work, to some fresh faced looking teenagers. All were pretty cool, and I am sure were paid next to nothing, so I figured it would be convenient for me, and a great tip for one of them.

Now, it would have seemed rather easy to do something like this, but as it was something different, it was very difficult to get them to understand and feel comfortable with what I wanted to do. At first I thought I might just give it to them as a group and make it a sort of communal gift, but then I started thinking that it might not be such a good idea as the owners could just take it away, or some of the younger guys might hog it with the females not having a say in it. I figured the best thing to do would be to have a drawing and sign over the title to the winner. After some prodding as most were hesitant, and a couple of phone calls to the owner for permission, I got the name of the eleven workers written on small slips of paper and was finally able to draw a name. Now, I was hoping for the 70-year-old lady or one of the housekeeper girls, or even the ladyboy receptionist, but it turned out to be one of the older receptionist guys who wasn’t even there. Even though, the other workers were clapping and laughing and had a good time. So, I wrote up a little transfer slip signing it over to its new owner, handed over the keys, helmet, tools, and rain gear. To be honest, it felt good to get rid of all the extra weight I was carrying although the computer still weighed me down enough.

Out of the three motorbikes that I have ridden on this trip, I would classify Amo as the old reliable Honda Accord. Nothing fancy, but it got the job done and you never had to worry about it not working. For $200 it paid for itself easily in cost savings, and a hundred times more in enjoyment. Good times.

Now, for those wondering about doing the motorbike thing, I can give you an idea what allowed me to travel around SE Asia driving I don’t know how many thousands of kilometers, with no insurance, and only one minor head on collision (and one slightly deformed finger.)

First, I didn’t just start riding. I had ten years of experience on motorcycles. In actual calendar terms, it was only one year, but that year was in India and Nepal driving a big hog of a bike in insane city traffic including some hellish mountain passes in the snow. That was a severe crash course in combative/defensive driving skills. Second, was my driving mindset. Everybody talks about defensive driving and paying constant attention. That is fine and dandy if you want to have an average survival rate of six months. I like my life and wanted to live without being in a coma and a bunch of tubes keeping me alive.

My secret was that I didn’t drive with just an air of cautiousness, but I took it a bit farther and imagined through each and every situation that could occur as I drove along. This is what really kept me out of danger as just like any successful plan, it comes down to a lot of preparation, and also calculating in all options. For example, as I drove down the outside lane, which is supposed to be the bike only lane and came upon a car parked in the path, my mind would click on to “what if” mode. Most peoples mind would just flash a caution sign and that would be it. My mind actually played a slow motion stop action full feature film. I would see myself passing the parked car just a little too close. A little kid pulls the lever and throws the door open. I am too close and am only able to watch the door veer open as I try and pull the left hand side of my handle bar out of the way while using my body to lean the bike to the right. I am too close and I see the sharp edge of the door smash into my hand and then handle bar. The little kids face is etched in my mind as his eyes are wide open knowing that he did something bad. Next, I see the front wheel getting flipped to the left while the force of the motorbike makes the front tire lose traction but not enough to keep the bike from twisting to the left. I don’t feel the pain in my crushed hand as I am now focused on the ground, which is flying towards my face, but I realize it is me that is flying full force into the ground. I know this is going to hurt and although in real time going to be over really quickly, I know my stop action film in my head is going to catch the moment that, first, my right shoulder makes contact with the ground, second is the blackout which comes when my cheaply helmeted head slams into the pavement, and the film now goes into a pan from the sky and I see my lifeless flailing arms and legs tumbling along the pavement. My next thoughts are of the light penetrating my barely working eyelids and my brain starting to click. My thoughts are already of how I am going to get to the next town, is my computer broken, happy at the thought that I really don’t care about the bike and can just walk away, how stupid it was not to pay for the insurance, glad that I wasn’t a concert pianist, thinking this is going to make an interesting blog piece, and finally reality and the necessity to stop thinking and start going through a damage report of my body. But in reality, I veer further over to the right making sure there is enough clearance in case there is a little boy who flings the door open without looking. Next though, is the sound of the huge diesel engine blurping and sputtering as the driver frantically pulls off the accelerator and tries to veer the behemoth of a truck carrying tons of gravel so it doesn’t totally flatten the dumb ass that veers right into the trucks path. I scold myself for not looking before veering over. Why didn’t I go through a big truck to my right film? I hear the massive tires crunching the loose gravel on the road and can sense their rotating mass. It is actually my elbow which feels the spinning rubber and then the tip of my right handle bar grip getting sucked down into the spinning tires….oh this is going to hurt.

And that is what I thought about as I drove all those thousands of kilometers with only one minor head on collision. Oh yea, the government helps out by outlining all the wrecks in spray paint so as you drive through any town or village, there is always a bunch of hieroglyphics painted on the ground to signify someone else’s demise. The outline of a body is often better than a cup of coffee to get those senses clicking. But, Amo is gone and now I am stuck on planes, trains, taxis, buses, and boats. If I die on a freakin bus, I am going to be sooooo pissed.

This was a cultural difference. I have done many drawings before but I have never seen the little slips of paper being rolled rather than folded. Must have something to do with Buddhist scrolls or something.

Some of the workers at the drawing. The winner wasn’t even there for a photo.

I have seen these fish a couple of times. This little guy was kept in the reception area. Usually I am only interested in catching them, but these fish were unique in that they actually interacted with you making them one step above cats. It actually liked to play peek a boo and would follow your face around keeping eyeball to eyeball. If you would squat below the bottom level of the tank it couldn’t see you and would swim away. If you popped up, it would get all excited kicking up a splash and going eye to eye. Hours of fun.


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