Don’t forget to bring some gasoline
It’s our second day on a motorbike around Pai – a few hours north of Chiang Mai – Renate in front and me taking in the scenery on the back, trying not to think too much about the fact that I have absolutely no control over the bike and that makes it feel like we’re driving too fast, too far towards the edge of the road and that all those lines in the roads seems like they’re wide enough to make the bike skid across the asphalt and us end our journey in a Thai hospital.
The day before we went to a little canyon where it was too hot to walk, and then a small waterfall with water too cold to swim in, but today we have no plan; we just drive aimlessly, letting the passing wind cool us down.
Renate is the one to notice first, obviously, but there’s no hurry or urgency, the tank is still almost half full and we did drive a lot more yesterday, didn’t we? We keep on going, up, up, on windy roads, and the tank meter keeps dropping. I think the closest gas station is in Pai, Renate think there has to be another one closer ahead so we stop to ask someone. He’s sitting on an unfinished structure, hammering nails into wood, he speaks no English, and we speak no Thai, I could just as well have spoken Norwegian, but in the end, we think we come to the conclusion that he says that there is a place to fill our tank on the other side of the hill, up, and then down. Only problem is, we have no idea of how far it is, and no matter how much we try, we don’t reach a body language understanding on that question.
So we continue on. In some of the steeper parts the bike doesn’t want to carry the both of us, so I jump off, walk up, always up, up, up. The tank meter is way beyond the red mark, pointing at almost empty – Renate is getting nervous, we’ll never reach a gas station in time, we’re getting stuck out here, we’ll be lost and it will get dark. I start singing reassuring tunes – don’t worry, be happy – there are plenty of cars driving on this road, running out of gas here wouldn’t be the end of the world, we’ll be fine.
Still running, still going up, he did say on the other side of the hill right? But where is the top? Some Thai teenagers laugh at us when they drive past as I have to jump off and help push the bike at a really steep part. An English couple on a scooter approaches us, coming from the other direction. We stop them, ask them, apparently they had the same problem with as little gas as we did, and they managed. Only a bit more uphill, and then it is just down the rest of the way, for 20km.
We reach the top of the hill, finally, Renate joins in on the upbeat tunes – everything’s gonna be all right – we turn off the motor and just roll, roll, roll. We keep rolling, until we reach a checkpoint and try to ask them how much further to the gas station. They check our tank, laugh, give us a small bag of strawberries and send us off – just 4km more. And there, finally it is. We fill up the tank, have an ice cream, and then head back to Pai, driving into the sunset.