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Scooter Touring

After watching a demonstration of elephants painting, we rented a scooter yesterday and set off for the countryside to one of the elephant camps outside Chiang Mai. I'd expected to ride around the corner and instantly be on quiet, country roads, but unfortunately Chiang Mai turned out to be a much bigger city than I'd expected. It was also a few years since I'd last driven a scooter and it quickly became apparent that this one was a bit of a wreck as I tried to come to terms with it in the city centre. The traffic was truly horrific, as bad as anything I'd driven in before, as I did my best to figure out the one-way system whilst Carita hung onto the back shouting directions.

Eventually, however, we got out of the city, off the motorways, and onto country roads where I could exploit the full power of it's 100cc engine! This involved both of us shouting encouragement to get it up the hills as it almost ground to a halt. After an hour or so we made it to the elephant camp, parked, and walked over to the entrance only to be told that it had closed an hour before. It was disappointing, but I also knew that Carita was intent on doing some elephant riding in Thailand so I knew we'd be back making the same horrific journey the following day.

Rather than returning to Chiang Mai we decided to see some of Northern Thailand's countryside and continued along the road into the Mae Sa valley. It's dry season here right now and the area reminded me a lot of China, which I suppose is very close. The route was quite picturesque as it wove between mountains and through forests with hill tribe villages, however, as we were still reasonably close to the tourist hoardes of Chiang Mai, much of it was spoiled by developments and resorts. One place we passed was busy burning down and bulldozing away a slice of forest to build a resort village, and some of the mountains bore huge scars of deforestation. Once again it made us consider the irreversible damage that our own and fellow tourism was causing to Thailand's environment.

After another nightmare ride through the traffic and pollution, we got back to our hotel in Chiang Mai, looked in the mirror, and saw that we were almost black from the dirt and exhaust we'd been riding through.


Ah ha, I'll check to see if Ducati do a folding scooter for you now your Bikers :-)

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