Things I Miss About Thailand: Dogs on Motorbikes

Dog on a Motorbike near Chiang Mai Gate, Thailand

I’m back in Canada with my family, and despite the sticker shock (really, $7.95 for chicken fried rice? Really?) it’s a great time to be back in Montreal. The International Jazzfest just started, the weather is lovely and the entire city has shed its layers and moved onto the streets. However, every day several things jolt me back to the life I led in Asia a mere month ago, and I remain wistful for the chaos of the many markets, the piles of spices and the never ending street food. The fairly recent proliferation of motorbikes in Montreal is one of those cues. What’s with only 1 or 2 people on the Montreal motos? And where are the dogs on motorbikes that I miss from my Asia days?

Dogs on Motorbikes in Thailand

Dogs on Motorbikes - Chiang Mai Gate, ThailandJust another Thursday in Chiang Mai.

Dogs on Motorbikes - Chiang Mai Gate, Thailand

One of the many things I miss about Thailand is the nonchalant way that these canines perched on a motorbike, casually waiting for their owners to come back. While I was trying to get a photo of the first dog, he turned to look at me with pure disdain, as if to say “What? You find this interesting? Please.” And it’s true: the amount of things and animals and people that Thais can fit on one tiny motorbike is staggering. A dog on a motorbike isn’t news in Chiang Mai.

I remember driving home on my ridiculously pink moto and seeing a woman in front of me on a bike of her own. On her lap was a tiny dog. Standing behind her on all four paws…another tiny dog. And sitting in between her feet on the floor of the motorbike? You got it – a third tiny dog. I passed her to get a better look and then, completely dumbfounded, stopped my motorbike on the side of the road. She drove by, giving me the same look as the dog above “You ain’t seen nothing yet, lady.”

Ah, Thailand. In my return to Canada, I miss those many moments of wonderment. There is a lot to see and rediscover during my first Montreal summer in a decade, but I do miss Southeast Asia. I spent almost three years in the region, but getting bored is an impossibility when every day yields quirky snapshots like these.

More to come from my months in Asia, including where to eat in Chiang Mai and all the other little idiosyncrasies that made my time there so much fun.


27 thoughts on “Things I Miss About Thailand: Dogs on Motorbikes”

  1. Jodles,

    Welcome back to La belle province! I’m sure traffic, what with the Mercier being shut with ‘les travaux’, is more to your SE-Asian sensibilities.

    You should really think about doing some x-Canada trips. I can think of dozens of places that would blow you away; in a different way than does SE-Asia, but would blow you away nonetheless.

    See you next week in NYC!


    1. Hey Tony! Would love to do some cross-Canada trips – my sea kayaking experience in BC was one of the more memorable vacations I had and it was in the Canada. I’ll be likely heading out to Newfoundland for my birthday mountain this year, so I’ll get to visit a new province. The rest will have to wait for the moment, as cost of living is far more palatable in Asia ;)

      Looking forward to seeing you and Jo in NY!

  2. The cautious, dog lover in me cringes at this to think what would happen to those dogs if they have an accident. Maybe it doesn’t happen very often but my overprotective side kicks in on this one. I guess I have seen what happens to people on bikes too many times. Driving in Thailand is much different than the highways here in the US.

    So maybe this is an obvious question to ask but why were you dumbfounded? Is it just that there were that many dogs or that people put dogs on bikes or that you were concerned about safety as well?

    1. I was dumbfounded because 3 dogs on a bike, one of which was being held while the woman drove with her other arm, was quite a sight to see! And they all looked totally calm. The dogs were also of the fluffy, white variety…really it looked hilarious and I couldn’t stop laughing.

      The woman wasn’t wearing a helmet on her bike either (obviously the dogs weren’t ;), so if bad things happened they’d hurt her and them. Most bigger cities in Asia have newly enacted helmet laws (whether people abide by them is another issue) but superimposing the types of rules we’re used to here on life elsewhere would be an exercise in frustration because it’s quite a different way of living. When I’ve asked where the backseat seatbelt was in some of the cars in Asia, the response was laughter because many of them just don’t work or aren’t used. It’s actually been a bit of an adjustment coming back to Canada for the summer since I’m constantly forgetting about the rules here!

  3. That is one excellent photo. Dogs on motorbikes remind me of Gulu, Uganda, where my friend had a German shepherd puppy. Puppy, friend and I rode motorcycles all together. It is surprisingly comfortable…

    I can only imagine how much you miss Thailand – thank you for sharing your nostalgia with us.

    1. I think there might be a need for a site devoted to dogs on motorbikes? I love how people have shared their own dogs on bikes stories in the comments! Do you have any photos from your moto excursions in Uganda? Would love to see them!

  4. Ahh, stray dogs and small motorcycles. It seems that the longer I stay in this clean and peaceful country the more I long to return to the wild and bizarre East!

    Hope your trip is going well!


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  6. Side note but sort of related: I don’t know how these dogs ride on motorbikes, but in Vietnam I saw a guy riding a motorbike and eating a foot long sandwich once. How he did that, I’ll never understand.

  7. That is seriously one of the cutest posts. Do they have their own helmets? Hopefully they are just posing and not riding with their owners.

    1. Thank you Charu. They don’t have helmets, no. Neither do many of the kids riding on their parents’ laps! They aren’t just posing, they do ride the bikes in front, with the owner sitting behind them and driving. Or, they sit on the floor between the driver’s legs, or on the seat. Either way, that’s how they get around town!

  8. I can only imagine first of all the shock when you start realizing the price difference in everything compared to being in Canada. How in the world do they manage to keep those dogs on there? I have a hard enough time getting my friends to hold-on on my motorcycle. And I clearly remember that pink moto you had.

    1. They seem to just stay on. It’s baffling to us, I know. But as they’ve been on the motorbikes since they were puppies, they just sit there the same way we would. In my months in Asia, I’ve never seen any dog jump off or try to. They patiently wait and then when signaled, they hop off. Amazing.

  9. I love your pictures! They got me excited about my upcoming trip to Thailand. I haven’t tried scootering in Bangkok yet, but I think I just might try this time around.

  10. Yes, for many foreigner I think is funny. Often my clients when they see the dog on the motobike they also laughing and think it is funny.
    I hope you happy in your home. People from Canada are nice, so maybe invite your friends and make fried rice yourself better than buy it so expensive :-)

  11. My dogs love going out on the boat and are pretty fearless, but I have a feeling they would eat me alive if I tried putting them on a motorbike!

  12. I love this one. Koreans are also pros at putting anything and everything onto a far-too-small motorcycle, but only once did I ever see a dog on one!

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