Motorbike Auction

7 Oct

If you’ve been reading the blog consistently, you know that I’m a huge fan of the motorbike as a form of transportation. Orestes and I bought one bike last year, and have thoroughly enjoyed all the potential for zooming around that it provides. To start our second year in Thailand, we decided that a second bike was necessary – specifically, a bike just for moi that would allow for independent zooming. Our first bike came from a secondhand motorbike auction held a ways down Ramkhamhaeng, the main road outside our ‘hood. We figured what worked once would work again, so off we went to the motorbike auction!

Before I describe the auction, let’s consider a few things. First, we are functionally illiterate in this country. (No hablo Thai, remember?). In the context of the auction, this means that we can’t read the digital auction board, the forms explaining the rules of the auction, or the bill of sale should we purchase a bike. Second, the entire auction takes place in Thai. The only thing we can understand is the sales bell ringing. Awesome. Finally, we don’t have Thai drivers licenses… which turns out not to be an issue because, TIT, this is Thailand.

Ok. Now picture the scene if you will. Rows upon rows of cars and motorbikes, each with a number painted on the seat, and just enough gas in the tank to give them a little vrroooomm to test them out. We pay 5,000 baht ($150 ish) and get a number card for bidding, plus a list of all the bikes with their year, the milage, and a price. But wait, I thought you are illiterate, you say. True, but not with numbers! Ok, so we can read the numbers (phew). Next issue: I know nothing about motorbikes. Or engines. We walk up and down the rows, trying out the seats, testing out the ones that look snazzy. We rule out any bike that sounds funny, looks like it’s been in an accident, or has entirely too much pink. After much deliberating, we settle on 3 bikes we plan to bid on. I am stressed already. As time passes, the auction grows more and more crowded with Thai men (not women, they don’t buy bikes – I think they send the men to do it for them). Some are private owners, others are dealers who plan to buy whole groups of bikes for rentals, spare parts, etc. They look like they know what they’re doing.

photo 1

Motorbikes as far as the eye can see

photo 3

Rules of the auction – the little dancing bug guy is their logo, I believe

Finally, we find some seats. Some ladies who work for the auction (and are inexplicably wearing high heels) come out and give a speech of some kind. They seem to be the auction equivalent of the opening act. Then the serious auctioneer appears. You can tell he’s the auctioneer because a) he has the snazziest microphone and b) he has a spare sideview mirror that he uses to ring the sales bell. The digital auction board flashes the number of the vehicle, the auctioneer tells us something we can’t understand, and then people begin flinging up their number cards. The pace is frantic! Numbers, numbers, numbers, blur of Thai, I catch the number six somewhere in there, DING! It’s over? Yup, sold. My stress level rises. I make Orestes hold our number card so I don’t accidentally bid on a car.

photo 2

Orestes, in charge of the number card

photo 5

Serious Thai dudes, waiting to bid

photo 4

The auction begins!

photo 1

If you look closely, you can see him ringing the sales bell!

Somehow, somewhere in this controlled chaos, we manage to successfully bid on a bike. It’s lovely, blue and brown plaid, comfy seat, goes vroom nicely. The bike is handed over with a minimum of paperwork, and we’re allowed to leave the auction. On this particular occasion, we’d gone to the auction with another couple, Sara and Said, the gurus of the motorbike auction. Sara and I take a cab back home while Orestes and Said drive our new bikes. Halfway back home, we pass Orestes on the side of the road. WHAT?! I prepare to panic as my phone rings. Remember how all those people who had been testing out the engine? On the few dregs of gas the auction leaves in the bike? Right. Orestes ended up pushing the bike to the nearest gas station 😦 However, all’s well that ends well! My new bike is delightful, I love being able to drive myself around, and there is a lot of (safe) zooming that happens. 🙂

photo 2

My first ride on my new bike

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