I thought driving a motorbike would be easy.
After all, thousands of Thai people drive them everyday, weaving recklessly in and out of traffic, without a problem. So, I got on my bike and within…oh, maybe 65 seconds, I had fallen on my ass. I was so nervous taking a turn that I wouldn’t lean into it, so I just toppled over and proceeded to scratch up my leg and humiliate myself in front of dozens of onlookers. Four Thai men ran out of a convenience store to help me up even after I insisted I was fine.
It was…highly embarrassing.
Now, I have to give myself some credit–I have not driven in a long time. I have lived in New York City for the past three years. On top of that, I have never driven a motorbike and have never driven on the left side of the road. And here I was, on my second day in Chiang Mai, jumping on a bike with a helmet that barely fit my head. (My head is huge. I guess Thai heads are tiny.)
Besides my dignity, I was mostly unscathed.
But I was terrified to get back on the bike. I was shaking. On the other hand, I was eager to get away from all of the people that had watched me fall and were giving me pitying looks. I got back on the bike reluctantly and drove away as fast as I could.
It took me 15 minutes of driving around the city to for me to feel comfortable. Then it was time to head up to the Bua Tong waterfall, an hourlong journey northwest of Chiang Mai. Thank goodness my friend led the way because I was still pretty unsteady on the bike and I wasn’t sure I could navigate and drive at the same time. Going straight was not a problem. Turning was…a little more difficult.
We made it to the waterfall without anymore incidents. And the trip was well worth it.
Bua Tong is called “sticky falls” because it is made of porous limestone that makes the rocks easy to climb. Even for a klutz like me, it was easy to make it up to the top of the falls. My bare feet and hands could get a grip on the rocks even with the water flowing down them.
The falls and the surrounding park were quiet and well kept. We only ran into about a dozen people in our entire time there.
The ride to and from the falls was beautiful. In the distance were the hazy mountains and on either side of the road were small markets, clusters of houses, and rice paddies.