Sunday, December 2, 2007

Born to be Mild

I was dropping off my laundry across the street from where I'm living now - and having some quiet fun watching the owner's small dog making friendly play with her other pet, a kitten - when I heard the familiar sound of Harley rolling thunder behind me. Turning around I was facing two scruffy Thai bikers - members of the Ratchaburi Dragon Jars according to the colors on their leather vests - clutching bags of dirty laundry. Even bikers need clean skivvies, I thought, as they waied polite greetings to the laundress and rumbled away.

I'd forgotten that Hua Hin is hosting a biker fest ("Hua HIn Bike Week 2007") this weekend, kind of a mini-Sturgis minus the wet T-shirt contests and mayhem, but as Saturday night approached more and more largely Thai chopper clubs were clogging bars and streets with their chrome horses. Nagas, Bangbung Riders, Fly Turtle, Black Burapa, Flying Skulls, Jesters, Jikko, Black Devils, Little Devils, Devil Dragons, Dragon Way, Prachuap Riders - a gathering of the Thai chopper tribes. Harleys, I discovered after talking to a Thai member of Chopper Ubon while watching a band do the worst version of Born to Be Wild (no guitar sound, only bass, drums and strained vocals) I'd ever heard, were scarce in Thailand until the '90s. Biker clubs were virtually unknown. Originally most choppers had come in from Singapore and ridden by foreign oil workers up north, "Crazy Dog" told me, until the first Harley dealership opened in Bangkok in 1995.

"It doesn't matter who you are where you are what your job is, you're all equal when you get on your bikes," another biker, a Finn who called himself "Mingo" told me while sucking on a 32 ounce Singha as the band began to happily massacre Metallica's Enter Sandman. "Harleys aren't exactly built for the roads in Thailand so it gets interesting, you know...It a machine we all love. It's a very strange kind of machine, you don't want to abandon it - it is clumsy, loud and very heavy. And the ladies love it."

Just how sedate this whole scene really is pretty much summed up on Schedule of Events.

3.15 - 5pm: Motorcycle safety parade with headlights and helmets.
5.15-6.15pm: Games. (As noted before, did not apparently include wet T-shirt contests, tequila shot contests or urinating on newbie club members. Maybe a heady round of Pin the Tail on the Rice Burner Suzuki?)
8.15-9.15pm: Grand Opening. Provide scholarships for students in need.
9.30-12pm: Music Show.
Midnight: Sing the "Sun Sern Phra Ba Ra Me" song to show respect for the king.

Get your motors running...


Ben said...

Sounds reminiscent of Los Angeles' "Love Ride," often keynoted by the likes of Jay Leno and Pat Boone. Six hundred Harleys obeying speed and sound ordinances at least once a year...

Even bikers have moms who expect a card on Mothers Day.

I just wonder how you get parts for a Hog in Thailand...

Happy Holidays Justin (it's winter here in the States)....

Patrick said...

I bet the Little Devils always feel like total dorks when they have to hang around the Black Devils.

You can't imagine how hip Thai bass-and-drum got this year.

Merry Crimmus time, my man. Its even starting to feel genuinely wintry here in SF. Hope you've been doing fine.