The Dos and Don’ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

Dos and Don'ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai
Dos and Don’ts of renting a motorbike in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the most interesting and charming cities in Asia and to experience it on the road will only broaden and enhance the experience. But their are some recommendations which you should invariably follow in order to ensure a safe and pleasant ride.

DOS

Do check your motorbike carefully before renting it

I recommend starting it and making sure it runs smoothly. Also photograph all scratches and visible defects. Also make sure they are all duly noted by the shop keeper.

Do wear a helmet, and a good one at that

Thailand is plagued by a huge number of road accidents and Chiang Mai is no exception. The motorbike shop will usually give you a little flimsy helmet, but a few more baht will get you a full face helmet. Enough said.

Do pay constant attention

Driving in Thailand is at times very unpredictable. Thais don’t signal their intentions as frequently as people from Europe, North America, Australia or Japan do. Driving can therefore be challenging. Car drivers will also sometime consider motor cyclists and cyclists as inferior on the road simply because they have much smaller vehicles, and won’t hesitate to cut you off.

Do get a regional map
The region surrounding Chiang Mai is beautiful. There are several interesting and charming spots just 30 or 40 minutes outside the city such as the San Kampheang hot spring. Or simply riding around the country side and eating with local farmers can be quite fun.

Do lock your motorbike

Chiang Mai is a very safe city but motorbike theft is relatively high. Try to bring your motorbike within the gates of your guesthouse or hotel and lock it. Also note that motorbikes can easily disappear from monitored parking lots at shopping malls.

DON’TS

Don’t drink and drive

Let’s face it : alcohol in Thailand is very cheap, and it’s extremely easy to loose awareness. Because of this, the roads in Chiang Mai at night are full of drivers who have had a little too much to drink, thus, making the road generally much more dangerous than during the daytime. An important recommendation would be to simply go out by foot ; Chiang Mai is a fairly small city and several drinking spots within walking distance of all guesthouse areas.

Don’t drive too quickly

Relax, you’re on holiday.

Don’t get upset

You will get cut off; this is just a fact. In fact, you will cut off 2 or 3 times per hour of riding. This is how drivers are in Thailand. Let it go.

Don’t leave any purse or bag in the front basket

This is an easy target. Although rare, this kind of theft does happen.

13 signs you are a nomad

Beach Bike

Most of us enjoy taking holidays away from home, but very few are comfortable at being continuously or often on the move. This is a particular lifestyle which involves certain sacrifices but begets extraordinary rewards. Here are the signs that you are a born traveller:

1. You love airports. You love going to the airport, train station or even the bus terminal for any reason. Maybe you are going somewhere or just dropping off your mom or brother. Periodically, you will simply spend an afternoon soaking in the hustle and bustle of travelers rushing to their respective gates, all in the hopes that it was you who was leaving.

2. You like being on the move. When going about your life, arriving kind a sucks. What you crave is the movement; you enjoy the movement of the bus, subway train or car as it travels through the streets of your city. But arriving a your destination gives a tiny sense of sadness.

3. You have few possessions. Real travelers don’t accumulate things. Instead, they focus on objects which further their careers or expends their inner selfs. You find yourself borrowing things often. You don’t see this as being cheap, but rather as frugal. Things are meant to be used, and should be so by as many people possible. For example; if they want to read a certain book, you will get it at the library, borrow it from a friend or get a kindle version. Hardcore travelers are the opposite of hoarders.

4. Your different. A life where you have a steady job, house in the burbs and a car or 2 in the garage is strange behavior to you.

5. Your jobs are short. You have or always seek short time or temporary work. Most likely, you are your own boss and work as a freelancer or contractor. Even computer engineers, technicians and health care providers can work on an independent basis today. One of my friends is a computer geek who takes on 3 to 6 month very well paid work during which he lives like a monk. He then travels for up to a year after wards. Many travelers make excellent businessmen or women as the two require similar traits of character.

6. You love culture. You are always reading and viewing documentaries about far away tribes or recently discovered archeological sites. You’re fascinated with different cultural practices which make up the human experience such as clothing and food.

7. You love languages. You’re planning or are currently learning a new language.

8. Your home is with you at all time. You know deep down that home is not a place but a feeling. It is where ever you are at this moment.

9. You prefer quality over quantity. All your purchases focus on quality. In your mind, going places means being light; this means that that jacket or sleeping bag must go a long way because you have only one.

10. You’re accepting of others and are easy going. Traveling means experiencing different people and cultures then your own. This also means that human behaviour and daily practices will differ from yours. For most short time vacationers, this is relatively easy and even fun. But a lifetime of experience something different is challenging. Not everyone can handle this for 2 or 3 years or even just 3 months.

11. You’re adventurous. You like to try new things, meet new people and learn new things. You are looking for new things, different things to do.

12. You’re curious. You love to inquire and ask questions. You have a strong desire to know. What’s at the end of road, behind this wall or what does Kimchi tastes like; the discovery is pure pleasure.

13. You’re courageous. You might at times be afraid but you don’t let that stop you as you plunge onwards. Wether it is downhill skiing in the Rockies or the Alps, biking through traffic in New York, applying for a dream job or striking a conversation with that cute stranger, you’re doing it.

3 Ways to Experience Buddhism in Chiang Mai

The west face of the main building of Wat Suandok
The west face of the main building of Wat Suandok

When visitors spend one or two weeks in Chiang Mai, they will normally visited a few temples and photographed some Buddhist monks. Here are ways to go deeper into this philosophy and start to practice and understand some Buddhist concepts.

1. Give alms

Each morning, all Buddhist monks get up before dawn and set to walk in and around their respective temples. The goal is to collect offerings in the form or food or even money. In exchange, the giver receives blessings in the form of a chant.

What to do: Put your offering in the monk’s alms bowl and kneel while bringing your hands in a praying position while lowering your head. The monk will chant for about 1 minute.

Where to do it: At any moment when you see a monk walk around between 4:30 and 7AM. The most popular place to do this in Chiang Mai is the at the Chiang Mai Gate Market near the South-East corner of the old city where dozens of monks gather every morning.

Child giving alms at Chiang Mai Gate Market in Chiang Mai
Child giving alms at Chiang Mai Gate Market in Chiang Mai

2. Attend a Dharma talk

A Dharma talk will give you the opportunity to directly discuss Buddhism with monks. You will be introduced to the basic principals of Buddhism such as karma and precepts, learn about daily life for a monk and even be allowed to ask questions.

Where to do this: Wat Suandok offers a 2 hour talk beginning at 17:00 Monday to Friday.

3. Learn to meditate

Meditation is at the center of Buddhism; this is the way the Buddha attained enlightenment. Contrary to popular beliefs, meditation is not practiced while listening to relaxing music. It’s a practice which takes time, regularity and discipline. There are several methods but the ones taught and practiced in Thailand are mostly Vipassana and walking meditation.

Where to do it: Wat Rampoeng (temple) offers a mini 10 meditation retreat. If you have more time, they also offer one of 26 days. These two retreats are considered very basic introduction but will give you a very strong basis for a life long practice which will change your life.

Wat Suandok offers a tiny 2 day retreat.

The historical Wat Umong also offers a retreats. We suggest that you show up a few days before you decide to begin your retreat.

Please be warned that you will need to obey the very strict rules which are a part of daily life in a Buddhist temple.

Akha Women

DSC_2003BFour women of a Akha tribe between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. This image was photographed during an New Year event in a tiny village about 30 kms from the town Mae Suai. Taken with the Nikon D90 and Sigma 10-20mm.

 

Cycling with a cold – Should I, shouldn’t I?

Originally posted on The Human Cyclist:

Snot Rocket Cyclist Man flu has struck. Throat sore and voice hoarse, snot streams from my nose at a rate bettered only by the Falls of Niagara. Man down. Or is he? Should I cycle with a cold? A common cold, at that, not one of them posh ones. I can still cycle, right? All I need to do is turn the pedals, how hard can that be? Sure, it’s nice and toasty beneath my duvet but I’ll soon warm up out there in the wet and windy world, non? And yet I’m reluctant.

Should I cycle with a cold?

Research and doctors agree the old wives’ tale quoted below is actually a good barometer to the age old question of whether you should exercise when ill. Throat a little sore when you swallow? Talk less on the ride and get those legs pumping! Got a little sniffle and a weak cough? Get out there you wuss! Chest…

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