Monday 19 February 2018

Breifne Earley: Fate's way of telling me it was time for a break

Downtime: Running into the back of a truck forced a welcome break
Downtime: Running into the back of a truck forced a welcome break

Breifne Earley

When you think of Thailand it's hard not to picture long isolated beaches, hundreds of wooden boats bobbing around the ocean and buckets of god knows what being consumed by revellers at a full moon party in Koh Phangan.

After almost four months in the saddle with only a smattering of days off by choice, I had planned a mini break in Thailand planning on maybe taking in Koh Phi Phi, the location for the Leonardo Di Caprio movie 'The Beach'.

In the meantime there was the small matter of the thousand kilometres between Bangkok and Krabi, the best place to access the Island.

I had made good progress down the east coast of the kingdom reaching Chumphon within five days and found a place to stay in the centre of the town. The guesthouse offered all inclusive trips to the eastern islands of Koh Samui, Koh Phangan & Koh Tao. Which got me seriously considering taking my break there. I decided I'd stick to my original plan and wait until I'd clocked up a decent distance in Thailand before rewarding myself.

Twenty kilometres into the day's ride a truck pulled out in front of me and stopped in the hard shoulder ahead of me. I had been expecting it to mirror every other vehicle which had made the same manoeuvre – that being pull into the main carriageway and pull away from me.

Stopping caught me by complete surprise with not enough time for me to evade the collision. The front of the bike hit the rear corner of the truck as I attempted to move around the truck. I was catapulted into the air, landing on the main road on the other side of the truck.

As you would expect with the clip in pedals I once again dragged the bike with me. I picked myself up off the quiet road and surveyed the damage.

Picking up the bike off the road the front tyre exploded sending the half dozen local police which had gathered scurrying for cover.

'Police' I hear you ask. Thai police must be very efficient if they can reach an accident inside 30 seconds. As I was about to discover I'd hit a police vehicle which had just stopped outside a police station.

I'd been warned about dealing with local police with the only applicable law the unofficial one of 'The foreigner is always wrong'. As soon as they asked for 2,000 baht (€50) for damage done to their vehicle I knew I wasn't going to get out without paying something to make the problem go away.

I rang Mark, my English contact in Bangkok, who advised me to argue as much as possible and that at the final moment agree a deal for a smaller amount of money.

The damage to my bike was pretty extensive with the back wheel badly buckled, brake and gears out of commission permanently and a front flat tyre.

I checked back into the guesthouse and went to see about my bike. They didn't have the spare parts in stock although the wheel alignment would be fairly routine. They ordered the part but it would be three days for it to arrive.

I took this as fate telling me to take a few days off and set off for a few dad snorkelling, diving and relaxation on Koh Tao.


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