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Monday, 30 April 2007

South East Asia on a Scooter - Page 2

Written by Rhys Stacker
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When it comes to cheap thrills in developing countries, it’s hard to do better than a motor scooter.  During a recent three-month trip through south east Asia, I found no greater pleasure than blasting past villages and farms, taking in the menagerie of smells and seeing the countryside as many locals see it - from the saddle of a step-through motorbike.

scootersRenting a scooter is as straightforward as handing over your passport and the fee in advance. Paperwork was scarce in the smaller Vietnamese and Cambodian towns I visited so make sure you check out the bike first, point out any faults and reach some sort of agreement that you won't be charged for them when you return.

Be ready to bargain. In Vietnam, scooters can be hired from around US$5 per day. In Hoi An, I hired one for a week and was able to bargain the price down to US$20, or less than US$3 per day. Thailand was the most expensive at US$6 per day, but they also have the best motorbikes. In Ao Nang I rented an almost new Honda Wave 125cc with just 850 kilometers on the clock.

Fuel is inexpensive by European standards and a full tank should get you a whole day of riding for just a few dollars.

If you're a scooter rookie, there is no need to be worried. Scooters are an exercise in simplicity. On bikes with gears, the throttle is on the right handlebar, along with the hand brake which controls the front wheel. A foot brake is on the right, and the gear selector is on the left foot peg - pressing down moves the bike up through the gears, usually up to fourth gear. There's no clutch to worry about, but it does take a little bit of practice to change the gears smoothly.

Automatic scooters are even simpler, with just stop and go to worry about. However, they tend to be of the traditional scooter style, with feet placed on a running board in front of the rider. Combine that with their smaller wheels and I thought they were a little unstable for the often rugged terrain that passes for roads in some parts of the region.

Automatic or manual, the fun really starts once you shake off the beginner wobbles, get in tune with the traffic, and enjoy the road.

(Page 2 of 4)
Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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