Backpacker’s Horror Story – Motor Biking in Southeast Asia Gone Wrong
This is the story of my motorbike accident in Laos.
Backstory: I was doing a huge motorbike trip around Vietnam and Laos. Motorbiking in Southeast Asia is an amazing way to see the country and I really recommend it to those who feel confident riding bikes. I had a lot of experience with bikes and traffic so I felt pretty safe riding around, even in the notorious downtown of Hanoi. Still, I managed to have an accident…
It has been three weeks since I started riding my motorbike before the accident happened, I was in Laos at that time, sorting out a new visa for Vietnam. I had just spent a couple of days in the cultural city of Laos called Luang Prabang.
In South East Asia, especially Vietnam, and Laos, you see animals everywhere; cows, water buffalos, chicken, pigs, and dogs. They are just randomly walking on the roads everywhere! It was weird at first, you’ll be very conscious about it, but after a while it kind of becomes normal and you don’t think about it as much.
I was in that state after leaving Luang Prabang, I had been riding for weeks and nothing had happened. I even stopped slowing down when I saw a group of cows crossing the road ahead of me. The locals don’t so why should I? I was riding on this asphalt road; it was a pretty good one because I’m close to a major town. I was going pretty fast, about 50 km/h I would say.
In this area, there were dogs literally everywhere. They normally stroll peacefully at the side of the road. You start to trust them, forgetting that they are very impulsive animals. Until this one dog decided to run straight out on the road at the exact worst moment a truck was coming in my direction on the other side of the lane, I couldn’t go there, so I bailed.
This part is pretty blurry… All I remember is me doing a front flip landing on my back. Luckily, I had a backpack stuffed with items, it took most of the fall but then I rolled over and my bare skin took the rest. I finally came to a stop and everything became silent and still. I was on my belly facing the ground. It felt like I was in one of those war movies and a bomb just went off, I could hear a ringing sound in my ear. I got very conscious of my breathing.
I turned around and I saw my bike in the distance. Luckily there was no dog on the scene. It escaped unharmed which I’m very happy about. I tried to calm myself as my shock was coming down. An old man came up to me asking if I was okay. I think so, I said and tried to stand up. That was when I realised my knees were covered in blood and the visual realisation somehow sparked the pain chemical in my brain.
I had never felt lonelier, I was in the middle of nowhere Laos. All alone. Hospitals are rare and most of them are definitely not as good as the ones back home. The man picked up my bike and told me to go before I got too much attention from the villagers who curiously watched me from the distance. I stood up feeling like an injured soldier, climbed on my bike and took off.
After riding for another 30 minutes, I took out my first aid kit which had been lying at the bottom of my backpack for weeks. With the help of the kit I have, I cleaned my wounds with antiseptic cream and placed a bandage on. I felt pretty badass I have to say. I continued my journey in a much more cautious manner and completed the whole 3.500 km trip to Ho Chi Minh City.
Lessons learnt: Always wear a helmet. Have a first aid kit ready. Don’t trust animals.
–Jasper, Laos 2016
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