Expat Living: What? Motocy. What?


at our small village's Sunday evening market

The United States is one of the few places in the world where the car is the major mode of transportation.   The rest of the world predominately uses two-wheeled vehicles – bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles.  It is only logical: less cost, less gas, easy parking, and so on.

“Motocy” is the universal Thai word for any form of motored two wheel vehicles be they scooters or motorcycles, big or small. An expat living in Thailand soon starts thinking like a local.

In Cambodia they are collectively known at “motos”.  Initially, even before we got to Thailand, buying a motocy seemed the right thing to do as an expat.  After all, we knew we would need a form of transportation to get to the market and to go anywhere beyond the confines of our little beach community.

We were all set to buy one when we arrived at the beach but it rained and rained and rained for more than 5 days straight.  It rained so badly that whole communities on the islands off our coast had to be evacuated.  It rained so badly that roads and homes were washed away south of us.  Just as the rains were abating, we headed back to Bangkok and off to Singapore to solve our visa problems.  When we finally came home to the beach, we were hosting 13 people in our 3 bedroom house and the opportunity to go motocy shopping just didn’t happen.  By then we had begun asking ourselves the question, “to motocy or not to motocy”.  Do we really need a motocy at our beck and call every day?

We decided to test the need-theory by renting motocys for a day while Jennifer and Nathan were here.  At $6.00 per day we decided to each get our own.  To tell the truth, I was never too keen on the idea of riding on the back with John so this suited me just fine.  I loved commuting to work on my electric scooter in Seattle and I loved riding here on the more powerful gas powered scooter.

We explored north of Thung Wualaen Beach, finding a great view point and several more beaches.  But, was the scenery so great that I wanted to ride every day?  No.  Did I need to ride to the market every day?  No.  To the ATM?  No.  Would I ride into the relatively big town of Chumphon?  Absolutely not!  To another beach perhaps?  Definitely not, ours is the best around.    The answer to all those questions is actually “occasionally at best”.  Well then, the answer is simple – rent when needed.  Okay, that’s all good but what about spur-of-the-moment needs or too-tired-to-walk-that-far needs or too-hot-to-walk-that-far?

The answer to all those questions:  bicycles.  No need to use them to go to the beach since that is only 118 seconds walk away, but to go to Apple’s expat coffee house or, more practically, the market and ATM, bicycles are perfect.  Not only that, a motocy will get you somewhere fast but can it improve your health?  Bicycles can deliver just what the expat living in Thailand needs for daily transportation.

with our bicycles

So we did it; we bought two shiny new bikes that I am looking at as I write.   It has been two weeks since we purchased the bikes and so far we are sticking to the routine we’ve worked out.  Up at 6:15, onto the bikes, turn left out of the driveway onto Soi 7, right onto the beach road, turn onto the Wat road, turn again onto the far end of Soi 7 and back up the driveway.  We will call it “the circuit.”  Because of the bikes we’ve discovered three more restaurants that we really like and because of this we have met more people that we really like and we’ve recently discovered that riding at night can be pure pleasure.

I’m guessing you can figure out why we ride early in the morning and why we enjoy the night.

To start at the beginning of John and Jane’s expat experience in Thailand, see The Asia Expat: Thailand Adventures of Two Baby Boomers.


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