As Told From the Streets of Phuket

Morgan and I riding on Chao Fa West Road, Phuket.

A few things you should know about riding around Phuket:

1 ) Approximately 75% of motorists here ride scooters.
2 ) A scooter that looks like it can only fit two people can actually fit five… and a baby!
3 ) Helmets are mere accessories – wear on your head or as a bracelet.
4 ) Don’t worry about stray dogs crossing the road.  FACT: They always look both ways.
5 ) Dogs also know how to ride a scooter, either sitting perfectly still at the owner’s feet or sitting on said owner’s lap with paws on the steering wheel.
6 ) Honking/hooting is just to let you know that someone is coming… and they will still be coming whether you move out of the way or not.
7 ) A one-way street?  No problem!  Motorists here often purposely drive the opposite way down a highway.
8 )People often lean forward when going up a steep hill to assist the groaning scooter motor.  (FACT: It doesn’t help, but you do it anyway.)
9 ) Motorists drive on sidewalks, side streets, boardwalks and highways.
10 ) Scooters own the road.  Period.

Morgan likes to say that we have a convertible, but I lovingly point out that our rented scooter would have to convert from something into what it is at present to be considered a convertible.  It is glorious to feel the sun on my skin and the wind in my hair on a hot, sunny day – but it’s pretty humbling when you arrive at work soaked because you rode your ‘convertible’ to school during monsoon season.

Still, having never rode a motorbike prior to moving to Thailand, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a rush zipping through traffic and planting your feet on the ground at a stoplight, waiting for the light to turn green alongside 40 other racers… I mean, motorbike riders.  Ready, Get Set, Go!

I’ll also admit that Morgan does the bulk of the driving.  He’s become quite a skilled driver, especially thinking back to the days in Samui where we would tentatively and jerkily pull out of the Save House parking lot onto the main road.  Now he climbs the steep hills and rides the sharp curves from Phuket Town to Kata Beach with absolute ease and a sharp eye.  I’ve upgraded from the extended shopping mall parking lot in Chalong and now ride around town, but it will be a while before I log as many scooter hours as Morgan.

The streets of Phuket are a wonder in and of themselves.  Makeshift baby seats that fit between the legs of a motorist.  Owners of a new bedroom set transporting their king-size mattress on a two-person scooter.  Baby elephants riding down the road in the back of pick-up trucks.  Food stalls that double as family transportation.  We’ve got it all!

Visit Phuket and learn the 1,509, 678 ways you can utilize a scooter.  So much more than a motorbike…


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