If I go missing: I’ve taken up a career as a motorbike driver.

There is something about being on a two-wheeled motorized vehicle that gets me all sorts of excited.

Thailand must have known I was coming; they devised a whole public transportation system consisting of thousands of orange-vested men willing to taxi me from destination to destination on the back of their motorbikes for less than an American dollar.

And when they do, the same scenario unfolds: I hop on side-saddle, grab the back of the seat handle as we speed off, allow a ridiculous smile to smear across my face, maybe shake my hair out like we’re filming a Pantene commercial, maybe give my motorbike driver a sniff to see if he put cologne on that morning, and more often than not, experience true happiness. It’s adrenaline-pumping and weird and I love it.

It’s like a magic carpet ride with Aladdin, except Aladdin is Thai and he may or may not be drunk, his carpet is a jacked-up scooter, and he doesn’t answer to “slow down.” It’s great.

Motorbike ride in Battambang

Look how happy we are.

Each ride is unique. The other day, I’m pretty sure a Thai Ted Nugent gave me a ride. Although he was toothless, dressed in leather chaps and drove a Harley – this was a first – I got off his bike feeling nostalgic for America. And then last week’s ride seriously rose my blood pressure – another first in my motorbike adventures – when I caught a ride in torrential rain pour, fearing a slow skid to my death in the drenched streets. Before that, my friend Heidi and I once hopped on a motorbike together. Three people on a bike isn’t a big deal around here. Families of four or more get on bikes together. But we’re American full-bottomed girls, together weighing more than a typical Thai family, and those tires don’t always seem capable. Nonetheless, we reached our Soi safely, and more importantly, batshit excited.

If you’re an adrenaline junkie, a risk-taker, or lacking common sense, this is for you.

Motorbikes in Bangkok

Look how happy everyone is.

Back in the States, I’d never turn down a motorcycle ride. Here, it’s a practical albeit exhilarating way to get around. And it’s just as dangerous! Met a guy the other day who said he was going on his fourth motorbike accident.

But in Bangkok, transportation in general is dangerous. There are over 7.4 million registered vehicles in a city which can only accommodate 1.6 million. I could just as likely find my fate in a taxi, or crossing the street, or falling off a boat into a canal of lethally polluted water.

So if I go missing, don’t assume any of the aforementioned fatal occurrences happened. Assume I’ve pursued my dream career, and rest assured I’m OK, happily transporting passengers to their destinations in a city of nightmare traffic.

If I Go Missing: I often find myself in scenarios where I think, “what a great way of life,” or “I could do this for a living,” or “this has retirement written all over it.” For those instances, I’ve created this series in an effort to let my loved ones know where I might be if I disappear and escape ordinary life.  

Read: If I Go Missing: I’ve Escaped to Jordan to Become a Princess



  1. I swore i would never take one when i first arrived in Thailand, five months later and i love them.
    Everyone else thinks i’m mad for doing so.
    Kudos for a fellow crazy!

    1. Thanks Amy. They’re too convenient not to take! And indeed, it’s always a gamble. Met another guy who got pretty torn up from an accident. So best of luck to you as well – safe travels!

  2. You’ll get used to them…and, scarily enough, will come to depend on them. At least you’re not my size – when you’re twice the size of the average driver it’s HILARIOUS every. Single. Time. You get on a bike and the whole gang watches how far the shocks go down.

    1. Ha! That’s funny, Greg. Sounds like a thrill for you, your driver and the whole motorbike queue. I’m surprised you haven’t gotten your own motorbike yet?

  3. That sea of motorcycles captures Bangkok so well!

    1. It is indeed a sea! Not the safest sea to swim in however.

  4. Sarah, I really hope you stick a helmet on that pretty head. Fun as it may be to fly around with the wind blowing in your hair, it is horrific to see just how a human head opens up when smashed against the road. Please have a great time, but ensure you keep yourself protected.

    1. Thanks for your concern, Shane. Actually, I’ve been handed a helmet once (out of…13432 rides?). Have you had a bad experience? I’ve heard it’s not necessarily uncommon.

  5. […] changing the face (pun not intended) of limestone karst conservation in Vietnam. I’m becoming a motorbike taxi driver in Thailand; a scorpion wrangler in […]

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