Pink is the New Awesome

I came to Chiang Mai in 2008 with the hopes of motorbiking the Mae Hong Son loop and eating my body weight in khao soi soup. But first I had to find a motorcycle where I could actually reach the ground, and then a helmet that fit my child’s sized head. The former was easy enough in a country full of vertically-challenged individuals. I often make the joke that Thailand feels like home not only because the food makes me smile on a fairly perpetual basis, but also because all the clothes fit me straight off the rack. When in North America I need to shorten all my pants at the tailor, whereas in Thailand I meet Thai people who exclaim “Thai-sized farang!” with an enthusiasm that amazes me.

Motorbike adventures in Chiang Mai

With a Honda Click in hand, I needed to find a helmet. The rental shop only had adult-sized helmets and they were falling off my head standing still, let alone on a 844km loop through the mountains of Northern Thailand. For 300 baht, I found a kids’ helmet that fit – bright blue, adorned with cartoons and with the word Pinkie scrawled out in cursive. Short on time, I bought it and used it for the Mae Hong Son loop.

Renting a Motorcycle in Chiang Mai
Pinkie, the moto helmet that could, my Honda Click and me in 2008

No really: let’s get a closer look….

motorbike helmet chiang mai

At the end of my weeks in Northern Thailand, I gave the helmet to the lovely owners of Na Inn. I jokingly said they could use it until I returned, but I had no plans to come back to Chiang Mai at that point in time. Last week, I stopped by Na Inn to make a reservation for a friend and the owner took one look at me, reached under her desk and pulled out Pinkie The Moto Helmet. “Here you are!” she said, as though she knew all along that I would be showing up to reclaim my helmet that day.


Part of the benefit in moving to Chiang Mai is that driving a motorcycle in everyday traffic is far less of a death wish than in Bangkok. In renting a moto on a monthly basis, I asked that it be one of the lighter models, so that my short frame could support the bike if it began to tip over. What I ended up with was a fun, 1950s-style Fino….in bright pink. I named her Emily, in honor of my family’s holiday turkey of the same name. (Naming our turkeys is a family tradition). And thus, over 2 years later I have been reunited with my ridiculous, shiny, tacky kids’ helmet, only to use it to drive a ridiculous, shiny, tacky motorbike.

Today, I made the mistake of wearing my only pink item of clothing, something I didn’t think about until I was driving on my motorbike over to meet Team Chiang Mai for lunch. Several Thais gave me a thumbs up along the way, laughing to themselves.

Note to self: no more pink clothing when riding the moto.

Renting a Motorcycle in Chiang Mai

And thus concludes my second week in Chiang Mai. Tomorrow I’ll be heading to Laos for a week or two, to explore Luang Prabang (readers: if you’ve been there and have a food suggestion, leave it in the comments!). I’ll be posting my first Thrillable Hours piece next week, but will be lighter on posting for the next bit until I return to Chiang Mai (and my shiny Fino) in early February.


30 thoughts on “Pink is the New Awesome”

  1. Amazingly, the pink motorbike suits you much better than the hot pink motorbike I ended up with suited me. You get thumbs up, I got chuckles. Perhaps I should have bought a pink helmet as well.

    That is a fine looking Fino!

    1. They actually offered me your old bike but I could barely touch the ground. When you get back to Chiang Mai we ought to get you a pink helmet and your old bike and then we’d really look like a pair of idiots trolling around town!

  2. Thanks for bringing a smile to my face! Would self-deprecation be another of the traveler’s indispensable qualities?

      1. Ah, the plot thickens and my company offers me a gig to spend the next few months opening offices in Singapore and Scotland so the Big Sabbatical may be postponed for a bit…but I’m packing up A. and taking him with me to Singapore! Will look forward to reading about Laos. :)

        1. That sounds great – seems like your company understands you’re quite a valuable asset to have around. Hoping to cross paths in Asia, be it Singapore or otherwise. Hope it’s an easy move :)

  3. I can’t believe they remembered you and still had your helemt!
    things like that make me love travel even more :)

  4. Yup, that’s totally pink..with a peace sign thrown in for good measure. I’m trying not to call the whole look “cute” but I’m finding it very difficult…

  5. Awesome! I love that the lady remembered your helmet and handed it over after you absence. That is amazing! Is it hard to learn to ride one of those motorbikes?

    1. Hi Kim, it’s pretty straightforward and then once you become comfortable you can start figuring out how to do so in traffic! I’ve ridden quite a bit prior, but with experience on a moto, I needed a few days to get comfortable again. They’re scooters, and fully automatic, so fairly simple to use. Thanks for reading!

  6. I love that pink bike. It suits you. This is probably a crazy question, but do you need a motorcycle license there the way you do here? Or lessons even?

    1. You do not, in fact, need a moto license to rent a bike. Or lessons. But knowing how to ride before getting into traffic is a good idea – Kyle took me to the bowling alley’s parking lot to try it again as I’d been off a bike since 2008. I believe it’s more strict in Bangkok, but not in Chiang Mai or elsewhere in Thailand.

  7. Aww I love that story Jodi! There’s something just quietly awesome about the lady at Na Inn remembering you from two or three years ago … and hanging onto your helmet that long! Reason #21398455 why Chiang Mai rocks, I guess.

    Enjoy Luang Prabang – I’d love to give you a specific food recommendation but there was no particular dish that stood out above the rest for me other than laap, which you can get anywhere in Laos. All I can suggest is trying the food at the night market (it’s down one of the side streets) … oh, and depending on what you’re after, the smoothie and bread roll stalls that set up during the day nearby do a pretty mean lunch for approximately no money. It’s not very Laotian, but it is cheap and good. :)

    1. Thanks Dave! Agreed that it’s terrific she remembered (without blinking an eye!).

      Been eating at the street just near the beginning of the night market – full of stalls where all the locals stop and grab food in their cars/bikes. Sitting on the side of the road with sticky rice + a skewer of pork is a slice of heaven! Had a watermelon smoothie and it was terrific. Off to Nong Kiow and northeast Laos tomorrow & enjoy my first time here thus far!

      Where are you these days?

      1. Yup, that’s the place I was thinking of! Despite being so close to the market it doesn’t seem to attract that many Westerners for some reason. Sticky rice and pork / chicken was a staple of mine too :)

        I’m in Melbourne these days – tossing up getting a 6-12 month contract and recharging the bank balance or returning to Chiang Mai and just gorging myself until the money runs out. The latter is a lot more tempting…

  8. I love the pink! But, my god, you’re tiny… You’ll fit right in with the ladies of Chiang Mai. As someone who still winces with fear before mounting a motorbike, I envy you your tranquil relationship with your steed.

    1. I wasn’t terribly comfortable at first, I won’t lie. The last time I did a trip in Northern Thailand, I ended up falling off a cliff, with the bike falling on me, because a truck carrying cabbages broke and it started raining cabbages on me. Given my size, I couldn’t hold the bike upright on an incline (and an angle) and tumbled right off the road. So I was a bit worried getting back on this time, but getting more comfortable by the day. I’m sure you would too!

  9. what a cute story! I love the helmet – I can’t believe you got it 2 years later. That’s amazing!

    1. Hard to believe, I know! Found another woman in town (Thai lady) who had the same helmet and she thought I was nuts for pointing at mine in the “omg, TWINSIES!” kind of way. Ha.

  10. Cute bike Jodi, fits you perfectly well :) You should be more careful in the streets though. Highways in Thailand are very different from where you came from. Wear your helmet always.

    Take care and thanks for sharing!

    1. I always wear my helmet – it matches the bike ;) It’s actually a lot of fun to drive the moto here; traffic ebbs and flows smoothly in a way you just don’t see in North America. Reminds me of how traffic moves in Colombia: lots of cars and motorcycles in a complicated dance.

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