Scooter Accident in Thailand, SE Asia – What now?

It’s so typical – and probably part of every traveler’s ‘Shadow Bucket List’ – a Scooter Accident!

And with Shadow Bucket List, I mean things that you don’t necessarily want to do, but things that probably happen to all of us travelers at one point. For example getting ripped off by a tourist trap, or losing your hostel key … or being involved in a scooter accident in a foreign country!

Well… this is what we will talk about today: What happened on my scooter accident in Thailand & what you need to do!

The day of the accident

This day started off really great. The weather was beautiful in Chiang Mai and I had my day off work (I’m a digital nomad and back then I used to work 3-4 days a week).

I made friends with an Italian fellow traveler a few days ago, and we decided to rent a scooter that day to drive to Chiang Rai. Chiang Rai is famous for its Blue Temple & White Temple and around 3 hours (by car!) away from Chiang Mai.

My friend and I had the glorious idea to get the scooter early in the morning and visit Chiang Rai in one day. Which means we got the scooter at 8:00am and by our calculation we would be in Chiang Rai by 11:00am. If we stayed in Chiang Rai for 4-5 hours, we would still have enough time to return to Chiang Mai before darkness.

Please don’t drive to Chiang Rai for one day!

Obviously it took us longer than 3 hours to Chiang Rai in the first place, because took the road through the Khun Chae National Park where the roads were in terrible conditions.

Also we stopped on the way at the relatively unknown temple Wat Saeng Kaeo Phothiyan. This temple is less touristy, but definitely worth a visit and in my opinion one of the most beautiful temples in Northern Thailand if not whole Thailand. The ground of this temple is quite huge and it has various temples and statues, including Hindu ones such as Ganesha and Shiva. I don’t want to say we wasted time, because this place is absolutely stunning, but we did spend about an hour here.

Meanwhile it was already 11:30am, and we were still a 1-hour-drive away from Chiang Rai.

However instead of heading straight to Chiang Rai, we decided to grab some lunch first. Not far away from Wat Saeng Kaeo Phothiyan is the Mae Suai Dam Lake, where you can find two small local restaurants with amazing Thai food. The view was very peaceful and the food was cheap, so we didn’t really hurry.

Finally, it was 12:30pm, and we set off to Chiang Rai.

We got to the White Temple, which was actually supposed to be our first stop that day, at around 1:30pm. And of course there were plenty of tourists waiting in the ticket queue, because YES the White Temple has an entrance fee of 50 Baht for foreigners. Okay so we got our ticket and were able to walk through the famous temple with hundreds of other tourists.

I know the White Temple is a regular place where locals visit to pray, however to me this place had a bit of a Disneyland vibe to me. There was music playing out of the speakers and it kind of felt like a museum to me.

Just like all of us, I hate touristy places, but sometimes we have to bite the bullet, because it was still worth it! The White Temple is famous for a reason, as there are no similar temples in Thailand – and as much as I know nowhere else in SE Asia! Let me know in the comments, if you know any similar temples!

After thousands of failed attempts to get a shot with no other tourists in the background, we set off to our second destination: the Blue Temple. We got there at around 3:00pm. Of course this place was just as crowded as the White Temple, however it did not have an entrance fee. In my opinion the general vibe of this place was less ‘forced to be beautiful’, it simply had a nice aura.

Again I forced my friend to take thousands of pictures of me, but here it was a bit easier to take pictures without any other tourists in the background – see my favorite picture.

By 4:00pm and after visiting multiple temples we believed we still had enough time to visit one more spot in Chiang Rai: The Black House.

The Black House is actually a museum called Baandam Museum and is probably the most disturbing attraction of Northern Thailand. The museum’s ground consists of around 40 artistic rather dark and mystical structures. Inside some of the spooky halls which were supposedly set for a meeting of demons, you can find skulls, skins and horns of various animals.

By now it was already 6:00pm, and we were actually supposed to be on our way back to Chiang Mai for a while. After grabbing a quick 7Eleven cheese sandwich dinner, we slowly started driving towards Chiang Rai.

Bear in mind that back then I was too scared to ride a scooter myself. Which means I was sitting on the back and my friend was riding the scooter all day long.

Well the way back to Chiang Mai involved the terrible road conditions in the Khun Chae National Park and after it was slowly getting darker, the temperature was also falling.

Or course we were not prepared and didn’t bring a jacket, so we were honestly freezing!

Since we wanted to be back in our warm hostel soon, we drove a little faster than we should have, but my friend (who was driving), told me that his wrist was sore after driving for so many hours.

By now it was already completely dark in the National Park.

We slowed down a bit.
And this is when it happened!

It came out of nowhere, because there was no other vehicle involved nor did we any pot-holes on the road.

We were driving straight, but something pulled the steering wheel of the scooter to the left!

With around 50 km/h the scooter fell on the left side, and we were sliding on the ground.

After a few meters the scooter stopped, and we were both still sitting on the scooter but lying on the side.

Without even thinking I jumped up, grabbed my friend, and we pushed the scooter to the side of the road.

We were just standing there for a few minutes!

I felt really sick because of all the adrenaline.

I’ve never been in an accident before!

By now our wounds started bleeding!
So much blood!

My toe was bleeding, as well as my left hand and the side of my ass.

I must have stopped us sliding on the ground with my bum!

My friend’s knee and foot was terribly bleeding as well!

Finally, another car was driving by, and we tried to stop them, but nobody seemed to care!

I mean, it was quite obvious that we had an accident, but the first few vehicles didn’t even stop.

Maybe because it was already dark and we were in the middle of nowhere in a freaking National Park!

Eventually some locals stopped, but unlike the Thais in touristy areas, the English skills of these locals were extremely limited.

While we were trying to explain what happened, another scooter crashed at the exact same spot, as we did!

It was a local military man, who was wearing long thick clothes and safety shoes with steel toe caps!

Well, that guy was definitely better prepared than we were!

I felt like a stupid tourist, who didn’t deserve any better!

Because we were wearing flip-flops and shorts!

At one point the locals called the police and only 20 minutes later one cop arrived in a shabby car.

First of all the cop asked me to take a picture with him!

Wow!

I mean it’s not like I was in pain, but okay!

Then the cop told us that if the scooter is still working, we can simply continue driving.

Wow!

Okay, at least the cop called the ambulance, which was free of charge, but can definitely not be compared to the German standards.

I’m sure the ambulancewoman did her best, but she dropped one of the bandages on the ground and used it anyway.

After we were treated, we didn’t quite know what was going to happen now. Because I knew for sure, I wasn’t getting back on the scooter again, but we still had to get the scooter back to Chiang Mai somehow.

The cop offered us to ask some of his friends to pick us and the scooter up and drive us to Chiang Mai, but it is not going to be cheap.

Whatever! I just wanted to go back to the hostel!

By now it was already 10:00pm, but finally his friends (some locals farmers) arrived and drove us back to our hostel in Chiang Mai for 50 €. This is a lot of money in Thailand, but I honestly did not care at this moment, I was just happy we were still alive and back in the hostel.
My injured friend, the cop & the farmer lifting the scooter onto the truck

Back at the hostel we looked at the wounds and some fellow travelers got some 7Elevent disinfectant. Good enough – we thought!

Well, we thought wrong!

The night after the scooter accident was horrible, and all of our wounds got infected! Of course!

The Day after the Scooter Accident

So I called my German travel insurance and asked them which hospital to go to. They sent me to the Chiang Mai Ram Hospital.

I was pleasantly surprised, because I really felt like I was in good hands!

I got my foot x-rayed and the nurses cleaned up my wounds. Everything was very sterile! As my wounds were really infected I had to go to the hospital every day for the next 14 days.

They also gave me painkillers and antibiotics!

Every time I went to the hospital, I had to pay for the treatments straight away. However, I sent the receipts to my insurance and got all the money back!

How to avoid a scooter accident in SE Asia

Well, there is no way you can avoid an accident, because it could also happen back home.

But here are a few tips on how to minimize the chances and how to be prepared!

  • Get a travel insurance before you start your trip
  • Research the local ambulance number when starting your trip (Thailand Emergency Number: 191)
  • Always wear a helmet
  • Wear closed shoes and long clothes
  • Don’t drive when you drank alcohol or did drugs! Nor get on the back of someone you did!
  • Try to avoid driving at night and long distances