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I’m learning how to ride a bicycle. In Thailand.

Listen. The time has finally come.

I’ve been living on Koh Tao for over 7 months now sans wheels and it’s been okay, life is functional without a scooter…

But a few months ago, I reached a breaking point where I felt like not having the ability to drive around the island was robbing me of my freedom. I hated being dependent on others everytime I wanted to go snorkeling at a nice beach or run errands by the pier. My initial solution was to leave Koh Tao altogether. But then I had a realization that I didn’t want to do that (you can read the post where I explain why I changed my mind here) so I decided to get serious and try to learn to drive a scooter. Which is going to start with me learning to ride a bicycle.

Yes that’s right: I don’t know how to ride a bicycle. I know, I know: *shock and horror* how on Earth do you not know how to ride a bicycle, Michelle that’s so crazy and unbelievable etc. etc. 

I never learned when I was kid and never really needed to learn as an adult. You can’t get much of anywhere on a bike in Atlanta where I grew up, so I guess I was never motivated to learn. Until now.

(To clarify: if you’re just coming to Koh Tao for a few days, weeks, or months you really can get by with just walking around the island. In fact, I wrote a whole guide on how you can do just that. I repeat: please don’t come to Thailand and rent a scooter on Koh Tao if you aren’t a confident and competent driver!! We see too many accidents and even deaths from this. But yes if you want to live on an island in Southeast Asia long-term, you need some wheels eventually.)

Overcoming road bumps

While Koh Tao is a really useful place to know how to balance on two wheels, it is perhaps one of the worst places to learn to ride a bicycle for the first time. The odds are against me.

Beyond the discomfort and embarrassment of being a 28-year-old woman learning to ride a bicycle in public, there’s also…

  • Koh Tao is an incredibly hilly island. Like the steepest hills you can imagine. Even people who do know how to drive scooters and ride bikes struggle on the hills. There are almost no flat roads.
  • The roads aren’t in great shape. Lots of puddles, patches of sand and dirt, holes and bumps…
  • There are no empty parking lots to practice in. I’ll have to be on the streets with other drivers.
  • People drive on the left side of the road in Thailand, so in addition to learning to ride the thing, I’ll also have to learn to drive on the other side of the road.
  • I don’t know how to use gears. I learned how to drive on an automatic car.
  • I have to rent a bike small enough for me.
  • Once we get to the scooter part, I have to borrow a scooter that would be okay to topple over, which I feel like is inevitable during my learning experience

So here’s my orange beauty for the next month. I’m told she looks better than she rides, though I wouldn’t know the difference. I’ll be posting updates as I learn to ride the bike and then hopefully drive a scooter. Come along for the ride! 😉

Orange bicycle in Koh Tao

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