Zoom, zoom

“OK, where do I put my feet?”

I climbed on the back of Summer’s scooter so the four of us could go to their Sunday breakfast spot. We scooted across their town of Cherngtaley, following Brian, who had Colin on his back.

It was a Western brunch in a café owned by a homesick American. I wanted the burrito until I saw it didn’t come with beans or rice, so I got nice, thick pieces of French toast.

Afterward, Brian led us to a nearby school for us to practice our scooting. Colin nervously went first, focusing intensely on the semi-automatic gear shifter. I got antsy and started looking at the gears on Summer’s bike. I waited for Colin to come around on the narrow empty road we were practicing on, then took off.

Switching through the gears was a little shaky, but with no clutch to worry about, I was feeling pretty confident. Colin was still thinking too hard with his turns, but he was certainly looking better. I came around after about 10 minutes so we could head back home. Not quite ready to hit the streets with bodies behind us, we handed the controls back over to Brian and Summer.

We changed into bathing suits back at the bungalow and left for a beach about a 20 minute scoot away. Summer pointed out the tourist area of their town, new track homes shooting up, a boy fishing in a pond–“I don’t know that I would eat fish that came out of there.”

We arrived at a grainy beach with a train of Thai children in the water wearing life vests and long sleeves, clinging to a Thai man in the same outfit. Our foursome stopped short of the sand with beach chairs and umbrellas for the tourists arriving by longtail boat. Unfortunately, that meant litter marred the area around us, but only that which had been left by the Thai group behind us (not like all that which washed ashore in Borneo).

We chatted under sparse shade on the shore; we swam in the warm, clear water: it was a lovely day at the beach.

After a few hours, the group of Thais sitting behind us piled into their longtail boat, the man bringing up the rear stopping to tell us rain was on the way. We backed up and made our way back through the brush to the scooters.

After a quick change back in the bungalow, we caught the sunset at another nearby beach. Swanky deck chairs in neat rows stretched across the sand; we settled into four of them to watch the French tourists go by.

On the way to dinner, we stopped at a scooter rental shop to pick up a third bike for Colin and me to scoot around on while Summer and Brian had theirs with them at work. We picked their automatic bike so we wouldn’t have to focusing on both the gear shifting we’d just been learning and our foreign surroundings. Poor Colin was shoved out onto the road by the over-eager scooter rental man. But we all made it safely to the restaurant, where we gorged ourselves on a feast of chicken with basil leaves, cashew chicken, and gingery tom yum ming. Determined to have it be our rental bike and not Colin’s rental bike, I insisted on driving the five minutes back to their house.

The automatic bike was way easier (and honestly, a bit less fun) than Brian and Summer’s bikes. My hair (under a helmet, of course) whipped in the 40 km/hour open air. I easily followed Brian’s taillight back to the bungalow, awkwardly parking behind them and locking the helmet to the bike as the man at the shop had shown us.

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