When I graduated from university in 2014, I could have followed the crowd of fellow graduates and bought a fancy gold ring. The university I went to is well known for graduates getting the ring as a symbol of community and pride. However, when I graduated I decided to use the money to go on an awesome trip in through Thailand.
After deciding I wanted to go on the trip, I told my family members and friends. Everyone convinced me I should go with someone, so it would be less dangerous, and even though I hesitated, citing my year long stint in China, I decided it would be best to bring someone along. I asked a friend I met during my senior year, and he agreed.
The friend I went with had only left the country a handful of times, usually with his family, and to a country in Europe where his grandparents are from. I knew this would be nothing like a trip to Asia, especially southeast Asia, especially without parents. Southeast Asia is an awesome place, and it is a totally different world than anything you will find in Europe.
After we arrived in Thailand and had been travelling for several days, we decided to rent some motor bikes and travel from Chiang Mai to a little town nestled in the Northern region of Thailand, known as Pai. By that time, we were travelling with some Chinese friends we met along the way and things were going well. However, I noticed something was a bit off. The friend I was travelling with became increasingly belligerent during the trip, and his belligerence was showing became more apparent during our motorized trek through the mountains.
The biggest red-flag I noticed was his reckless driving. He was getting too comfortable speeding around places, always trying to take the lead, and seemingly losing his awareness of the fact that we were a world away from America. Now, I was not completely innocent, as I became competitive with him at times, and acted just as stupidly as him. In fact, one time him and I raced around Chiang Mai with some English girls on the back of our motor bikes; It was so reckless and dangerous that the episode actually haunted me for some time, because one wrong turn could have ended it horribly. Anyway, as I noticed my friend becoming more reckless I knew I needed to keep an eye on him.
After arriving at Pai and having a nice time. I decided to stay in the back of our motor bike convoy on our way back from Pai, because my senses were tingling. At this point there are four people: two Chinese and us two Americans. We have three bikes: our Chinese friend is riding one, I am riding one, and my friend is carrying the other Chinese friend on the back of his motor bike. As we are driving down the curvy mountain road from Pai back to Chiang Mai, I notice my American friend is getting into his reckless zone. I made sure to keep some distance behind him in case something went wrong. As the journey continued we were hitting some sharp turns, and that’s when it happens: my friend was driving too fast, tried to take a sharp left mountain turn, but there was a dip in the road, so he caught some air, lost control, and he and our Chines friend went sliding across the road towards the cliff.
It was so strange. I am not sure how I knew something was about to go wrong, but I knew it. After they wrecked, I immediately pulled up them, grabbed my first aid supplies and assessed the damage. Fortunately they did not slide off the cliff, and none of their bones appeared broken. But they each had significant road rash on different parts of their bodies. After tending to their flesh wounds, we proceeded to slowly drive down the mountains until we got to Chiang Mai, and we took them to a local hospital to get checked out. They both came away without significant injuries, but damn they were lucky. Had my friend waited an extra few seconds to turn, they both would have gone off the cliff. After that, I knew I could not trust my friend on the trip, which made the experience a bit less fun, but still amazingly memorable, and it served as a reminder that sometimes you just have to trust your instincts.