Adventures in Thailand, lifestyle, travel

My First Scooter Accident

Two weeks before I leave Koh Chang, last Saturday, about 4 days ago, I had my first scooter accident.

It is as if Koh Chang, being the fiery beauty she is, didn’t take my leaving her too well.

I had decided to go to Bang Bao for my day off to to see my friend Su, procure some souvenirs and check the boat schedules/prices that went to Koh Mak – which I was planning to visit after I finished working at The Spa. All went well and I did everything I came to do.

Happenstance had it that I even spent the whole morning with fellow Canadian, Tim, who I was acquainted with but never got to know that well from my visits to the dive shop before. Then Su arrived at the dive shop, we ate and went shopping and talking along the pier. When we were done, we went over to her place at Cliff Cottage and sat in the hammocks overlooking the sea.

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A beautiful day to chill in the hammock and have a conversation.

I was only going to stay till sunset and leave while there was still a little bit of lingering light in the sky. But things were going so well, so when the opportunity came, I decided to stay and try Roberto’s (my Italian dive instructor’s) pizza before I left. Usually I left that side of the island really early well before sunset, but this time I stayed and decided to drive home after dark. When I left, it started to rain.

The Accident

It was head-on collision between my scooter and a big truck. However, the accident wasn’t caused by us, but by the inexperienced, irresponsible parties that we were both trying to avoid.

What a crazy night! It was dark and rainy, scooters were flying everywhere and cars were skidding on the corners, it was truly amazing how no one got seriously injured.

There was no way that the truck driver, Phai, could have gone without hitting anything unless his truck was an airplane. Well…he could have driven a little slower and he could have driven a smaller vehicle – which is another thing I don’t understand. Why do they let this huge trucks, that 80% of the time can barely fit within the lines, on this island? They pose such a danger to so many people out there, especially at the speed that some of them are going.

Anyway, looking back he had the following 3 options that day. He would have to either :

  1. Driven into the bush and potentially roll over the female passenger of Scooter A– Her idiot boyfriend was the culprit that started all of this. He had taken the downhill corner too fast, slid all the way across to my side of the road and landed in the bush. She was launched off the back a good 3 metres behind him (right by where I was). I had to stop so she could get up and move safely out of the way. What a jerk.
  2. Hit Scooter B and potentially roll over one of their 2 passengers – This was the scooter the truck saw first and was trying to avoid on his side of the road. Scooter B was following Scooter A, saw what happened, didn’t keep their eyes on the road, freaked out, lost control and fell.
  3. Hit Scooter C -Me. I drove up the hill nice and slow like you’re supposed to. I was in exactly the spot you’re supposed to be when you drive a scooter closer to the left side of the road. When the idiots of Scooter A flew right in front of me, I made sure no one was behind me, so I could stop for her to get up. And within a split second around the corner, a truck was coming at me from the front. Had I not jumped off my scooter at the moment I did, I could have been seriously injured too. Had I continued driving, I would have potentially rolled over her hand and maybe have had even more severe impact from that oncoming truck. It was the best option in retrospect.

So how did it happen?

First, he saw Scooter B, tried to avoid hitting them, and took a wide turn and came onto my side of the road and saw me a little too last. He tried to stop, could not, I jumped off and watched my bike get smashed.

There was some confusion to what immediately followed the situation on his part. After he hit my bike, he got out of his car, brushed right past me to the passengers from Scooter A, all apologetic. I don’t blame him, they looked more like people who had just been in an accident, lying on the ground and all.

I didn’t have time to lie on the ground so I stood in disbelief as this dude that almost killed me didn’t even bother to say sorry. They were trying to explain to him that they fell by themselves and that he actually hit me instead. He was obviously having trouble digesting this and looked really confused because here I was geared up in my North Face jacket, long flowy hair without a scratch on my slender bare legs. He did a few takes between me and them, before finally coming to talk to me.

Meanwhile, I didn’t waste any time. While he was figuring out what happened, I was looking for my phone so I could call someone to let them know in case anything else happened. I immediately decided to call Poon, the manager, he spoke the best English and bright as a button, he would take the least time to explain things to. My bike compartment where my phone was, was smashed in and so my phone must have flown somewhere. It was so dark that night. Some locals (god bless their souls) pulled over to help us and I saw it just as another truck was about to roll over it. Thank god this truck was driving much slower and stopped for me to pick my phone up. I called Poon, explained what happened and he told me to let him know if they could be of any help.

Finally, Phai, the man who drove the truck, comes to talk to me. He is still in shock and says nothing. My mind was much clearer than his so I take the reigns tell him simply, “Hey, it’s okay. No one is injured, so be thankful. You just have to pay for the damages which won’t be that much because the scooter still starts. We can put my bike in your truck and you can drive me home. It’s only 7 o’clock and we will be done in no time.”

He turns to his mother and sister and speaks in hasty, frustrated Thai – a version I’m not familiar with. I only know how to talk about lighthearted stuff in Thai. I’d imagine his mother was giving him trouble about not listening to her to slow down or something like that. He doesn’t like the idea of taking me home on the other side of the island because he drives a manual car, doesn’t know the island very well and was well still, shaken and afraid.

During the next 5 minutes, a few more near misses happen. First, a van screeched by, loses control and almost hits Phai’s truck. Phai excitedly grabs me and pulls me into the bush which trips me. I tell him to calm down and that the sooner we get out of here, the better. He was definitely still in shock. Then yet, another truck comes by, passes us safely, yet has trouble stopping down the hill, wavers and almost hits a car coming uphill. We move onto the other side of the road thinking that it was safer and within seconds, two Russian men on a scooter come around the corner sliding sideways. They are fine, get up and take their sweet ass time to get off the road. They seemed cheerful and think it’s funny. The locals tell them to get off the road and they did very slowly. I wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.

They wanted me to drive the scooter all the way back to Salak Khok, which is over an hour away like nothing happened. Even though my scooter’s engine still started, the lights worked, I didn’t like the idea because what if there were unseen damages inside? But knowing that I would have to stomp my foot and make like a baby for another hour to get my way didn’t seem appealing to me either. And I really wanted to get out of that area. So after initially contesting to idea, I gave in. I kept his ID card and we decided to settle it tomorrow. I told him that if I die tonight on my way back, I’m going to come back as a ghost to haunt him forever – he laughed nervously and told me that I will be okay. I think deep down he was afraid for my safety too. I asked one of the locals to drive with me to Kai Bae, about 5 minutes away, where the roads got better and it would test the scooter’s reliability. If something went wrong during this time, at least I’d have someone to help me out.

Luckily, nothing did and I managed to get home safely that night. Phai called me to check that I got home safely. He apologized and told me he will settle the damages in the morning. After which, he striked up a conversation with me regarding his trip to Koh Chang from Chiang Mai. He told me that his mother was still a little shaken from the incident because he could have killed someone that night. He told me a little bit about his life and he asked me about mine. We discovered that we were about the same age and that we both schooled in Auckland. I decided he was a decent guy that wouldn’t screw me over. And true to which, the next day, he settled the bill in full which was really nice of him.  I was not able to meet him since I was teaching at the time. But I’m glad we both made the best of a bad situation. We’re now Facebook friends.

The impact cracked the anterior of the scooter. The whole thing will need to be replaced. The cup holder and exhaust guard will also need to be replaced.
The impact cracked the anterior of the scooter. The whole thing will need to be replaced. The cup holder and exhaust guard will also need to be replaced. Pi Mem, the lady who rented me the bike, was not impressed by what happened. But she acknowledges that these things do happen and she was glad I was okay.

I was proud of myself for 3 things from this experience:

One, was that I was able to make a life saving decision to jump off when I did and that I didn’t take too much time to think about it.

Two, was that I didn’t freak out completely after it happened and that I was in a calm state of mind to get myself home safely the best way I could. I made best out of a bad situation and  I felt really mature for the words I said and how I acted.

Three, I didn’t scream. You always see girls in the movies screaming in accidents. I was surprised I didn’t since I am quite the screamer the type of person who would.

During the whole time this happened, I heard myself teaching mediation saying, “Keep a calm and balanced mind. Stay present, stay peaceful.” My former self would have been a bit more of an asshole and more demanding, so I’m sure glad that this meditation and yoga thing really works. It’s all true.

 

Adventures in Thailand, lifestyle, travel, yoga

Leaving The Beautiful Island of Koh Chang to Re-enter Society

Time has flown right by and it’s almost time for me to leave this beautiful island.

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I remind myself of the reasons to leave.

  • I have relationship ties – a wonderful dog and a loving fiancé who means the world to me
  • a beautiful home and a great support network waiting for me when I get home
  • I love Canada – although the winters are long, I do enjoy snow-related activities
  • it would be nice to use a washing machine and a dryer again
  • I have an upcoming wedding to prepare for in a couple months

And so with a heavy heart, I must go and get my affairs in order. I must re-enter into the structures of society and the boring old routine of consumerism.

What is that routine you ask? It’s simple. You work to get more stuff, work to pay off that stuff, have kids because everyone else is having them, unable to spend time with those kids because you need to work to pay for kids’ stuff, then work some more so that you can stop working and retire so that you can then spend your feeble days waiting out your death. It all seemed less than appealing to me. Somewhat pointless.

I would rather just spend my days here sipping coconuts in a hammock with my man and my dog, Koya, who would run around playing in the sand chasing crabs or something and having a good time as dogs always so. And not having the stuff that everybody is programmed to want.

I envy my dog’s life. Humans are to me the most blind of all the species. We created a society full of rules and structures and now we screwed ourselves over working in little cubicle cages for 8-10 hours a day with the inability to see much of the sun, let alone run and play in the sand.

Some form of paper money or numbers on a screen control our lives and determines how important a person is, rather than their traits of integrity and honesty. I suppose you do need some structure as dogs do in their dog world, but I think we humans took it a tad too far. It is what it is.

Societies do change, it just takes thousands of years to do it. In ancient Egypt, slaves were worked to death to build pyramids. And this is the same for other ancient civilizations. And what were the slaves thinking? They probably just accepted that that was life and I need to carry this huge chain on my back, attached to this huge stone. Then the Roman Empire came a few more thousand years later, a much more improved, more ethical society. Yet, still with slaves, crucifixion and death games as a norm.

Sure, we realized slavery is bad now (in this century, it took us that long), and we’re a far cry away from being in chains…but I hope you see my point that sometimes the reality you live in, isn’t always a reality that needs to be. Who knows? Maybe in a couple thousand years, our post-decessors will get it right. Maybe they will only work 5 hours a day, spend lots of time with their families and all energy will be green, and people will be happier and healthier.

Hey, you never know, right? There’s always room for betterment and for improvement. But for time being, It is what it is.

And so I take pictures of dozens of real estate ads instead. Dreaming of owning a small resort here, have a lush garden for vegetables and fruits, and teach yoga so I can earn a humble income to pay for simple pleasures such as coconuts and hammocks. Hey, you never know, right?

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Adventures in Thailand, lifestyle, travel

How I coped with changing careers, no income and staying positive. Don’t quit your desk job just yet.

It’s not easy. I live with my very supportive fiancé and I have no kids…well I have furkid – a dog. But that’s besides the point, the point is my responsibilities are still relatively low.

I just want to share my experience with you because I know you are out there, like I was, looking for the stories. Perhaps my experiences may serve inspiring or perhaps completely useless. Who knows?

All I can do is tell you that I’m a real person, relating a real life experience and you just take what you need to.


Before you read any further, here are the disclaimers:

I do not know if you should quit your desk job – I did this for me and it works for me.

I do not know if I will go back to a desk job – never say never, circumstances can change.

I love every minute of my experience right now – no regrets, this experience will be cherished forever till I’m old and grey.

I do worry about the future and going off the beaten path from time to time – but I am letting the universe guide me.


So here’s my story.

I am past 1.5 year mark of not being in at my desk job. I did go back to a desk job for about 1.5 months back in September, but that didn’t really count because it was such a short time. I actually took the job ready to commit long term, but things turned ugly really quickly and the worst sides of the oil and gas industry came out and I found myself again, thinking about change.

After quitting, many times, especially at the beginning, I would look at job postings on the daily and send out my résumé. And even though I did not want a desk job, those little voices in my head called me a hippie, a failure amongst other things and I really felt compelled to do so.

After quitting the second time, I went for yoga teacher training. Yoga was the one thing that was my constant in my life no matter where I was or what I did. It stayed with me long after I left the studio. So when I got back to Calgary, I wanted to teach.

I volunteered at a local studio every Sunday doing some light chores for 3 hours, in the exchange of free unlimited yoga. This seems to be quite common in yoga studios these days and it’s a great way to save money and establish relationships with the yoga community.  Those monthly passes cost about $140 and back when I worked in O&G, it was such a small expenditure that I wouldn’t think twice before buying a pass. Then, I asked if I could teach, but they said they didn’t have any openings. Plus, I was a newbie and they probably didn’t want to hire me.

So meanwhile, to supplement my income (or lack thereof), I dog-sat. I used to volunteer fostering dogs for the humane society. So I thought why not dog-sit? It was great. I walked the dogs everyday and enjoyed watching the dogs romp around tails and tongues a-wag. I took on a young Labrador puppy with separation anxiety for 2 months. Her owner was a nurse, so she worked shifts and it was difficult for the young pup. So she would drop her off whenever she went to work and I would work with Madden (the pup) on housetraining, basic obedience and separation anxiety. I spent way too many hours working with that puppy and at times I was exhausted, but I didn’t mind one bit…which really goes to show that when you love something you do, you’d do it for free. It’s so rewarding to know that you were the first person to teach a puppy to sit, stay, lay down, shake paw, roll over, ring a bell and fetch. Some adult dogs don’t even know how to roll over!

Using the law of attraction (ha!), I applied for a yoga teaching job in Thailand and got it. So now I teach yoga at a resort on Koh Chang. I bet you are wondering how much I make and let’s just say I made more an hour at my desk job than I do here a day. But no matter what, when you choose a different career path, one that will make you happy, you take the hit.

It’s a hard pill to swallow at first and it’s definitely not for everyone. Some people like being able to shop, to eat out, to get Starbucks every morning and to fork out $60 for sushi with a friend, like I used to. But I couldn’t do that anymore. My fiancé would take me out, but I didn’t like him wasting the money on what could be a week of groceries. So I cooked lots and guess what? I loved it. It was relaxing and the best part was we ate super healthy all the time and had lots of energy.

So to sum it up, I have managed in the past 1.5 years to hold my ground. I worked hard in O&G for 3 years, saving a comfortable amount for emergencies and an upcoming wedding. I worked really hard doing odd jobs to cover my basic expenses. My dog sitting paid off my flights and my expenses in Canada and I managed to come out deficit free. My yoga teaching term will end up paying off my yoga teacher training and if I’m careful maybe even some savings!

I am still trying to figure out how to make this work long term, but I am not (too) worried. I’m a hard worker and the praise I got while working my desk job has given me the confidence that I can easily do it again if I had to.

At this very moment, I’m the poorest I’ve ever been but I’m also the happiest I’ve ever been.  -The End-