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.
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.
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 :
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.