So today Kev and I and our new friend Simon rented motorcycles here in Laos. You could give me all of Bill Gates money and ask me to rent a motor bike in Thailand and I would say no its just insane there. It is pretty wild here in Laos too but I felt like I could handle so we paid 8 USD a piece and got motorbikes for the day. They gave us our helmets and away we went. Well kinda lol.
They said they didn't have any automatic bikes only manual. Now I have never driven a manual anything but I figured it couldn't be hard right? For those of you who have seen Zombieland the movie, remember the part where he crashes the bike into the bushes? Ya that was me. I am seriously not cut out to drive a manual. So I get off feeling defeated and They tell me I can either go double with my friend or nothing at all. Well we really dont wanna do that so we just tell them we want our money back and we willl figure it out from there.
It was at that point (surprise) they tell me they DO have an automatic motorcycle. Now this really doesn't surprise me at all, they are tricky here in Asia and will do anything for a dollar and money talks. So I get my bike and my helmet and off we go. Now the health and safety standards here in Asia, well there isn't really any. I have decided it is not because they dont care about the safety of their people it is just because things are done the way they have always been done and they are just too poor to change anything. Some of the things I have seen would SHOCK yall from the western world but, amazingly I have never been in a situation where I have felt so unsafe I didn't want to proceed with it. Everywhere and everything I have done as dodgy as it seems I have gotten where I need to go in one piece.
So off we go. Now anyone can drive in Asia anywhere but, there is just a few rules you need to remember. 1. There is no rules. 2. Just do what the locals do. 3. Use common sense. As far as I can tell there is really no driving laws. People blow thru red lights. People pass/overtake you on both sides. People drive on either side of the road. People drive directly into oncoming traffic. It is absolute madness but honestly there is an order too it and I quickly learned it. The size of your vehicle determines how much of the road you get to use, the bigger you are the more you get. In all honesty even with all this craziness as opposed to American drivers who generally drive like they "own" the road and it is "theirs" Asians might drive all over and drive insane like but they are generally very nice and let you in,let you pass etc. I have only seen 1 road accident in my whole time here and they guy got up and drove away no harm done.
So that being said, we get about half way to the Bolivian Plateau ( an amazing scenic lookout) and we half to turn around because my bike is losing gas like crazy after I just filled it all the way full ( for 3 USD). So we make it back to the shop and try and convince the people there is a problem with the bike. At first they dont believe us but after we again threatened to go elsewhere they magically produce yet another automatic motorcycle after saying they had none. So off we go again.... This time my bike actually holds out even though I had to fill it up THREE times whereas my friends didn't have to fill up more than once. But I spent less than 20 USD for the rental and the gas so not a bad deal.
After driving for over an hour we make it to the view point and stumble upon the most amazing waterfall I have ever seen. I got some pictures but it was super high up and there was not any safety rails so I couldn't get good pictures without risking my life. Again, western world safety standards are out the window. But I just wish yall could see the sights I have seen.... its amazing.
So after a while we leave to go back and I feel like a rock star, there is so many little kids just waving and laughing and smiling at us. The Lao people are so nice and friendly. On the way back I saw all sorts of transport like you would not believe. In Vietnam alone there is 6 million motorbikes and in all of South East Asia I would guess there is about 30 million. I saw motorbikes,trucks,buses,mini buses,cars,tractors,tractor engines with a drive train and a passenger cab, tuk tuks,taxis. Basically anything that has wheels and will even remotely drive they will drive it.
As scary as I might make it sound, I survived in one piece not having killed anything or anyone. The biggest danger to us was not people or cars but livestock. My "close calls" were almost hitting a cow,dog and goat. Laos doesn't have great roads, definitely not by Western standards but they were good enough. I survived my day and loved it! It took a bit of getting used to the bike but I made it. I also saw the most amazing sunset. For those of you who are religious, you know the picture of Heaven up in the clouds with the beams of sun shining down towards earth behind the clouds? you know the classic one..... Well today I saw that only better. It was amazing. I loved my tour of southern Laos by motor bike and would recommend that freedom to anyone. I wouldn't even consider it in Thailand or Vietnam there is just to much craziness there but Laos is more laid back. I loved it all and survived in one piece so that is all I can ask for.
Later that night we had an amazing dinner, a proper steak,all the trimmings,a beer and dessert for under 10 dollar USD! After that we accident gate crashed a Laotian wedding but were welcomed with open arms.... All in all a great day! Pictures to come on Facebook as soon as I get a chance.... Until next time,Tyler