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A 3 Day Trail Ride in the north of Thailand. 2002

Well it should have been a three day trail ride but it just didn't turn out that way. I started out on the Wednesday morning, 24th July. The plan was to go and get both my bike and my new friend’s (Mike) bike from his house just down the road, throw them on the back of the truck and head off to Bangkok to pick him up at Red Baron, one of Bangkok’s biggest motor bike shops. I arrived at his place to find out he has no tie downs. Charming I thought but with mine and a bungee cord and a skipping rope, I managed to get to Bangkok OK with the two bikes still on the back of the truck.

Having arrived I found he was there and had already bought another bike.  I also made him buy some tie downs. I didn't know Mike very well at this time only having met him a few times before, but that was to change on the journey up north to where we would meet the other guys that where on the ride that weekend.  He also had a girl with him, when for a horrible moment I thought he was planning to bring her with us.  This is not just because of my male chauvinist tendencies but because there was no room left in the back of the cab with all the riding gear.

Anyway my fear was short lived as he had just taken her with him up to Bangkok for the night. He had introduced me to her the weekend before in one of the bars and she was off then to see her sister, no doubt validate the story. So we set off, two guys, two bikes and no girls thank God.

On the way up north I found out that Mike was the embodiment of Del Boy from the English sitcom series ‘Only Fools and Horses. So if you want a Rolex copy or otherwise, he's your man. For the ladies he also does very good copies of some hand bag or other; you American ladies call them purses I think, you know, the very expensive ones. He did tell me the name but it went in one ear and out the other. So about four hours later we got to Carl's house and met both him and his friend Ron; this is the first time I had met them. They are both from the Colonies but I don't hold that against them, someone has to come from there. Nearly two hours later we set off again having also picked up two Thai fellows, Sam & Gai, both I know from the Enduro back in March. Sam speaks very good English but he was just coming for the night out.

In the meantime someone rustled up a pizza of which I had two slices; this was the first I had eaten that day and was due to be the last as it happened. We finally got to where we were staying, a reasonable hotel and starting the ride from the next day. It was straight in the shower for me and I was waiting for someone to give me a knock to find out what was happening. Anyway Mike and I wandered down about an hour and a half later to find out that everyone else had eaten already. Never mind, I just had a drink. To my big surprise the hotel had conjured up three girls, one was with Carl, one with Sam and last but not least the third one was with Gai. Now I was really wondering where they had sprung from but apparently if you are Thai you just drop a word in the right hotel man's ear, he gets on the phone and whistles them up for you.

The conversation was the usual bikes, girls and all the stuff blokes talk about when they’re away. A short time later Gai took off with his one and was away for a while then came back with another one. Now what the story was I really don't know, however I can imagine. Having said that, the one he came back with was a real stunner I think she was half Caucasian and could have been a model or something of that sort in the right setting. Well the bottle of Jack was getting down and most of the rest of them where talking about going on to some other drinking establishment or other.

At this time I excused my self and was off to bed thinking I could order some room service, well I did & it didn’t come. I was sure ready for breakfast the next morning. Now you could be asking what's wrong with me why did I not have a girl, am I just conveniently leaving that part out?

Well the answer is no, I didn't have a girl, the reason being that I have a very good girl at home and I just couldn't be bothered. It's like being a kid surrounded by candy, at first you eat till your sick but after a while, it’s just there, very pleasant to know it there but you can leave it alone.

The next morning began at about 6am for me with breakfast really the only thing on my mind at that time. The stories of what had happened the night before where re-hashed apparently even though Sam had not been staying he had planned on having some time alone with the girl he was with, arranging to meet her in the hotel room. She apparently never arrived and he fell asleep. He apparently had only just left to take his Mum to the hospital before I had got down there. What Gai got up too I have no idea but if he's as quick with girls as he is on his bike, I can imagine.

Eventually the ride began quite a bit of tarmac at first till we had the first drink stop by a really great lake, it was still early in the morning and overcast but nevertheless a very spectacular view. The cafe boats sitting in the water surrounded by the fishing boats. A relatively short distance from there the off-road began in the mountains this was what it was all about. Mountain tracks twisting and turning with real steep drops off the sides should you get it all wrong. We had stopped at one in particular, very impressive, the slope was about 5 degrees off vertical. All you could see for mile after mile was more pecks densely undergrowth one after another. If you had got it wrong there I think they would have just put a small reef at the top and left it at that. The conditions were great, mostly wet from the dew the night before. Now this is my excuse and I’m sticking to it.  I was at the back taking it easy but usually managing to keep Mike in view. I have had too many injury’s this year already so was determined not to make it another. Well it went on and on, we were in the wilderness alright, miles & miles from nowhere with very little traffic to worry about and nothing coming the other way.

Then it happened I rounded a bend of no real significance - just one more of the hundreds we had already negotiated easily. Mike came running up to me shouting there has been a real bad accident. Carl had broken his leg having hit, head on, a poor Thai bloke on his little chicken chaser. It was the Thai chap that got my sympathy, he had just been to collect the family's rice for the month & some food for the day. This poor bloke had a broken arm. When I say broken, I mean broken, the outer bone was sticking out of the flesh about ½" plus one of his fingers on that hand was held on with only about ¼" of skin. His foot on that side was a mess too with at least two gashes one over 4". It's at times like this that I really wished I had taken the time to do a first aid class. When I got there the Thai bloke had already made this way over to the shade on the other side of the road to a little shade provided by over hanging trees on the left hand side of the road. I collected his rice from what was left of his chicken chaser & tried to make him a bit more comfortable by putting them around his back so he was not just lying flat out in the dirt.

Carl had a bandage helping his left wrist, no doubt due to an old injury from bike riding. Mike came across to me saying do something for the Thai bloke’s arm as he couldn't because it would make him sick. Well it wasn't doing a lot for me either, looking like a piece of meat on a butcher’s slab but to my relief there was very little blood even from the wounds to his foot. I had seen an injury like this before in Bangkok when two chicken chasers had collided taking off from the traffic lights. The way to overcome any queasiness was just to think of it like going to the but- chers and that doesn’t worry me. I like my meat too much for that. So I dressed it as best I could and the best I could say about it was very little more dirt would get in there before he got to hospital. Gai, who had been in the lead, had already gone for help long before I had arrived. I was feeding the Thai bloke little sips of water from a bottle Ron that been carrying. I also offered him my riding jacket thinking that he may be going into shock. Somewhere in the back of my mind I was thinking that you had to keep people in this condition warm, but I suppose with the normal temperature in this part of the world being about 85F even in the mountains this was a little

unnecessary. In the meantime some more Thai blokes had turned up, the first carrying a pump action shotgun on his back. Now to people who live in the country, even in England my home, this would have been of little worry and maybe to people from the States they would be used to this. However where I come from, to see a gun of any sort is a talking point and to see a gun in a potential dispute situation was a little disconcerting to put it mildly. Having said that there was no trouble or even suggestion of it, the Thai people that came along were friendly and most helpful.

I had already done just about all that could be done for the Thai bloke in that situation but two other Thai men took machetes out of their back packs, setting about making make shift splints for Carl’s leg. That was bound up with straps from mine & other people’s back packs. What seemed like an age had gone by before eventually a doctor turned up in a pick up truck. He took one look at them and just said get them in the back and take them to hospital, so presumably all that could have been done there had been done. Well it was what seemed like another age till we eventually got to the hospital but I guess it was only about an hour or so. On the journey to there I was left as the only one still following the truck as I had not yet run on to reserve, all the other's had fallen by the wayside having been nearly out of petrol. I was not far off it but considered that I had better keep going for as long as I could passing a good few fuelling stops, otherwise I may never have found the hospital they where taken to.

Having got there they where both taken off the truck directly on to stretcher’s & into the ER. Both Mike & I had considered that we may all have to chip in to sort out the poor Thai bloke with his hospital bills, not to speak of his wreck of a bike. Mike suggested 10,000 Baht each but I had suggested it may come to more like 20,000 Baht to sort the problem. The police came and went with what seemed to me no hassle. It was then such a local news item the channel 3 TV people turned up, so we may have made the news that night. By this time a good few of the Thai bloke’s friends and relatives had turned up so at least he had people that would look after his interests. I saw 3,500 Baht change hands for the damage to his bike so he must have had his own accident insurance to cover his hospital bill.

Gai had stayed behind to wait for a further pick up truck to ferry the bikes to civilization. He eventually got to the hospital having sorted that out and we left for where we had stayed the night before. This was miles away but we took the on-road route this time. Ron went back with his pick up to get Carl's bike to take it to his home, Carl himself was going to get an ambulance back to a local hospital where he was to have an operation to sort out his leg.

Mike and I stayed on at the hotel as we had already paid for the rooms. I was to drop him off the next day at the hospital that Carl had been taken to, near his home. On the way there the next day I noticed a bike for sale on the side of the road so we stopped. It was a 92 WR 200, Mike bought it so now I had 3 bikes on the back of my truck. I dropped Mike off at the hospital. He was taking  a plane back to Bangkok later that day. Carl had broken his leg in two places so he won't be riding for a while. His bike was not so badly damaged, mostly superficial, apart from the radiator on the left hand side, with that plus a new cowl, he could ride it again - well when his leg gets better anyway. 

All in all it could have been far worse. At least we were able to get help and the Thais didn't shoot us or cut us up with their handy machetes.  

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