|North of Chiang Mai, Thailand|
Sunday, December 1st was the last time I rode in Toronto. March 7th I lifted my leg over a Kawasaki Versys 650. Laura crawled up behind me and we set off with a group of Australians in Thailand on the wrong side of the street! No problem. It actually felt fantastic and we eased into a groove with no fuss.
Shoulder checks were a little more frequent and came over both directions at every stop and lane change. Arm signals, foot signals and actual signals all used in full force. The thing that I did not expect was that I have now come to believe that all of North America should adopt lane splitting. Merging, meandering and using every inch of space on the road is normal in South East Asia! This is the most intuitive and considerate city traffic I have ever ridden. Holes in traffic appear that I would never ever imagine using at home that become wide open spaces of dart and pass (this will later become even more pronounced on the highway and passing). Everyone here has grown up on a two wheeled transport. Cage drivers see you! They make space for you and will even pull out on shoulders for oncoming traffic. This is the first part of local custom that I have come to embrace and unfortunately have to forget by the time we return.
Our first day on the bike proved to be without concern and we rolled out of Chiang Mai and up into the local hills to test the bikes on some twists and visit a Hmong Village to the Northwest. It was a perfect way to measure the slick roads and find some comfort in the tight hairpins and freewheeling traffic. All in all a great way to dip my toes into a new continent, bike and group of riders.