How not to rent a bicycle in Thailand


I thought it would be picturesque to rent a bicycle in Thailand. I mean thats just what you do. It’s in all the guides and postcards and how else would I burn off all these Singha’s I had been drinking?  I both aimlessly and maplessly wandered about the city when I came around a corner and saw a guy with some scooters and bicycles in front of a soup shop.

It wasn’t unusual to see these type of hybrid shops. You could often see any kind of unrelated combination of businesses occupying a retail space, so I went in and talked to him. The bicycle was pink and it was just under $2USD for the whole day, I was in.

He wanted my passport for collateral. I hadn’t quite researched on if that was the norm, but rule of thumb is to never part with your passport. What did I do? I gave him the passport.

I took the bike out for an all day cruise, turning down various lanes and alleys and intersections. It felt good to get my blood flowing, but I forgot to apply sunscreen and it was a scorcher. I also many times forgot that the lanes are moving in opposite directions than back in the states, and when my mind would wander, or I’d stop concentrating, I’d find myself going down the streets in the wrong direction, getting stares and honks at my touristy naivety.

I found the fabric district in some type of China town area. It was really cool because if you know me personally, I am a seamstress. It was actually quite similar to the Los Angeles Fabric District I frequent at home, except in a Chinatown in Thailand. I had one duty of business for the day and that was to buy my train ticket to my next destination. I found the station, went to buy my ticket only to realize that a passport was required, and I didn’t have my passport. The only train out to my destination was at 8am the next morning. Shit! The bike shop might not even be open by then. I decided I would go back and hopefully find the bike rental place (which i had no trace/receipt or name of) return the bicycle early, get my passport and get a taxi to the station. Seemed simple right? I ran back to my bike and reached in my pocket and the bike lock key and it was gone. WHAT NEXT.

I scoured the station, pantomiming to the staff for a key and retracing my exact stops. I began to panic. Sometimes you have one of those days where all kinds of things go wrong, and this was my day. I sat for a while on a bench when this lovely Thai man came up to me swinging the red key in the air. I left it on a table when I bought some tea earlier. I thanked him immensely and then got back to business. It’s funny how often you hear the negativity of people “ripping you off” when this guy easily could have taken my bike but searched me out. People really are good, really.

I hopped on the bike, rode on and this is also when I realized how lost I was. It took me several hours (5) to find my hotel and I was shocked at the lack of accessible maps and english speakers in the area, but luck had it I would eventually be back at the hotel with skin of a lobster-like hue. I retraced my ride from the hotel to where I rented the bike and where I think maybbbeee I had rented the bike was a silver gate and a closed down shop. Like you never would have known a business was ever there. It was only 6pm.

I began thinking bad thoughts, my passport was gone. My skin hurt. How would I pull everything off early the next morning when Thailand doesn’t even start waking up until 11am?

Morning came and my alarm went off, It was 7am. I rode down the rental street and there you have it he was there!! All of his bicycles and scooters were out just like the day prior and he gladly swapped my passport back for his pink bike. I waved down the first taxi which was already a woman, and her 7 bags of blankets, coincidentally, to the train station.  I had ample time to purchase the train ticket and even help the lady carry her 2 million bags to the train. Maybe today luck was on my side.  When I arrived to my next destination I immediately went to a temple and paid the monk for a good luck blessing, I think I needed it.

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