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Drift Triking in Thailand


Guest post- Andrew Batten.

Well we were once again back in the land of smiles in our old town of Phrae. Here we met up with many old friends and had some great reunions. After dinner and a few drinks my good friend Lee suggested we go drift triking. He had mentioned that he and his friends in the Phrae Drift Club were one of the first in Thailand to try this new extreme sport. He said it was fun and exciting but also FAST! We were intrigued and it was organized for a few days later.

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We got the call to be ready, put on our sturdiest clothes and thickest socks and jumped in the pickups. First stop was the club house which also doubled as a friend’s workshop for welding, bike building and engineering. Here we met the 10 strong crew and loaded up 8 trikes, a cooler full of drinks and some cameras.

Andy at the bottom of the hill

Andy at the bottom of the hill

We took off to a remote part of the hills nearby the city. Here only the occasional farmer on a scooter could be found using the roads. I think in the 5 hours we were there we only saw 10 scooters and 2 cars on the road, so it was pretty much our own personal race track. The road consisted of one medium sized twisty hill which leveled out to a small crest and then followed on to the main bigger twisty hill flattening out to the valley below. 2 kilometers in total.

We when reached the top everyone climbed out of the pickups, unloaded the gear and got ready. Due to the language barrier and the casualness of the group the safety briefing was done in less than 10 words, a few questions and lots of miming with laughs. E.g. Miming over turning the handle bars “Good!” followed by miming over turning the wheels and using the front brake “No good”  “Dead haha”. Followed by lots of smiles, laughs and worried looks by myself. Lee had mentioned before that these tarted up bicycles and the boys got up to 110km per hour! No pressure!

Before I tell you of my first ride let me first explain what the premise of drift triking is. Basically it

drifting in car vs trike

Drifting in a car vs a trike

involves the crossing of two sports. One being Japanese car drifting. Which is the art of a driver intentionally oversteers, causing loss of traction in the rear wheels while maintaining control from entry to exit of a corner. Basically a controlled skid around corners. This is then crossed with a modified bicycle where the front half of a bicycle is grafted onto a tricycle rear end. The wheels then have hard plastic PVC pipe sections put over them to  give them less grip, make them more slippery and stronger. Then you find a big hill and slip and slide your way down going crazy.

Simple in practice but you need balls of steel to pull it of in the real world because it goes against every driving skill you have every learnt. Basically you are trying to spin out on every corner but then control the spin smoothly around the corner. Every corner feels like you are coming in too hot and that when you go sideways you will flip and the roll the trike. The smooth hard plastic covers are there to stop this however.

triks

Trikes

Thailand isn’t a rich country and occupational health and safety hasn’t ruined fun yet here so my safety equipment consisted of a motocross helmet, soccer shin pads and boots with car tires graphed on to the bottom to be used as brakes again the road. Seriously. The pickup drives in front of the pack as they descend down the hills to film and check for traffic, while Jennie clung onto the back taking pictures. Most of the trikes didn’t have any breaking system at all apart from the shoes. Some boys didn’t even have these special shoes and just used ordinary sneakers. Crazy!

Drifting round a corner

Drifting round a corner

I think I was given the nicest bike because not only did it have a front brake but it also had a bike speedometer on it. That Speedo just scared me more to be honest. Now, I have experienced skidding cars, driving motorbikes and go-carts but this…. it’s a whole different thing. After the initial twists the hill straightened up to a main straight. Here you lift up your feet and bike really picks up speed! My first run the bike got up to 70km per hour! Scary stuff. Then you hit the next hill and do it all again. As I said over turning the handle bars into a corner and shoving your bum out to extent the drift is fun at 20km per hour but at 50 km it is downright scary.  One other new guy like me did crash into a gutter on the side of the road where he rolled but luckily he was totally unhurt apart from the hundreds of tiny thorn hairs in his skin.

At the start

At the start

Overall it was a challenging but amazing day. I defiantly worked up a sweat from exertion and fear but it was totally worth it. It was amazing and I would have defiantly paid money for this experience.  We had a great day and got some amazing photos.

The crew told me that they had just been featured on a Thai variety show showcasing their skills and that they had also won the Thai drift championship in 2014. So lastly a big thank you and shout out to Lee Suparsiri and the Phrae drift Club.

Phrae Drift Club

Phrae Drift Club

Scams to Avoid While Visiting Vietnam


Guest Post by Louise Rose, catch more of her Vietnam adventures at  go Vietnam.

Motorbikes, Vietnam

All first-time visitors to any country must first learn the ropes which regards to the day-to-day happenings in that country. Staying in any country without understanding the local customs, language or currency rates makes any visitor prone to unscrupulous people who may seek to take advantage of their naivety. As in the case with any other countries, Vietnam has a myriad of scams targeting visitors. These scams are age-old, tested techniques that always render visitors helpless against these individuals. Some of these tricks are simply irritating while others are dangerous enough to wreck your visit. The following are common scams to avoid while visiting Vietnam.

1. Taxi scams

In Vietnam, fake and illegal taxi drivers often have a variety of tricks, particularly when they ferry visitors. The simplest and the oldest trick on the book is to tamper with the taxi meter. These modified meters spin faster than the normal meters. This allows the drivers to make some easy money. Another trick is to take “shortcuts” during the trip which are in fact longer routes. The taxi drivers simply circle around to increase the fare you will pay when you get to your destination. In order to avoid scams, you should get a taxi of trustworthy brands, such as “Vinasun” or “Mai Linh”.

Mai Linh

Mai Linh

If you use the popular Vietnamese Cyclos, commonly known as bicycle taxis, it is advisable to agree on the amount you will pay before getting into the taxi. If you get into a taxi without agreeing on the price, you no longer have the power to bargain. It is also important to ask beforehand if the quoted price is for one person or if it is inclusive for everyone. Remember that taxi fares can always be negotiated.

  1. Xe om scams
    Taking a xe om (motorcycle taxi) trip is a very adventurous prospect in Vietnam. Because of the fact that there is no mandatory certification for motorcycle drivers, any motorcycle owner can do the job. With such a crowd, many dishonest drivers exist. The most common scam is to convince you to take the trip first and pay later. Though you may be convinced that it will be cheaper than taking a taxi, the net charges are exorbitant; even double the taxi fares. These riders also circle around to raise the fares. They may even stop in dark alleys and threaten passengers. It is advisable to stay away from these deceitful cyclists, especially at night. Dishonest motorcycle owners also like to deceive tourists with offers for motorcycle rentals. These people can actually steal the motorbike from you and ask you to pay for the ‘stolen’ motorbike.


    3. Street vendors

Even though they may look friendly at the beginning, they can be a source of great irritation for foreigners. Some street vendors may ask visitors to take photos with their merchandise after they force them to either buy their goods or tip them. Most food vendors and restaurants do not usually list their prices on the menus. Therefore, visitors may end up with different bills for the same items. Another trick is to price the meals in a currency like the US dollar and then price in another currency with a higher rate. Most tourists end up paying because they do not want any trouble. The official Vietnamese currency is the Vietnamese Dong. Most restaurants and food vendors can quote in the local currency or in the dollar. Ten can mean ten US dollars or ten thousand dong. If you opt to pay using the local currency for a price quoted in dollars, be sure to check the exchange rate.

Street Vendor in Hoi An

Street Vendor in Hoi An

When you travel, you often get carried away by the excitement of being in a new place. This may make you lose your anticipation when visiting new countries. Most people around the world are friendly and will welcome travelers to their countries with open arms. Some others, unfortunately, see backpackers are targets. To make the most of your visit in the safest condition and the most enjoyable way, why don’t you hop on http://backofthebiketours.com. Not only will you enjoy delicious street-food but it also helps you avoid unfortunate scams, as the local guide will help you choosing your souvenirs and dishes at the best price.

-Added-

One more that really gets to Andy and I is the shoe shine scam! These guys will shout and point at your feet while you are walking down the road long enough for you to stop to look at what they are pointing at. Before you know it they have taken off your shoe and charging you for “Fixing it”. one of our friends who was just in Hanoi agreed to get her shoes polished, before she knew it the guy had glued on a new base and demanded 150,000 dong when the original price was meant to be 20,000!