Sidecar saga: 70 year old’s 600km epic journey to the seasideLegacy

A 70 year old Thai man was so determined to enjoy the seaside for the first time in his life that he successfully rode his sidecar motorcycle over 600 kilometres from the Isaan province of Ubon Ratchathani to Koh Chang, an island in the eastern province of Trat.

The story of the 70 year old, Loi Tapila, came to light when a reporter in the Isaan province of Surin encountered him resting on his old sidecar motorcycle at a petrol station on March 7. The reporter spoke to Loi and discovered that he was on a journey from his home province of Ubon Ratchathani to see the sea for the first time in Koh Chang.

Loi revealed that he left home on March 3 with only 200 baht in cash. Along the way, he collected plastic bottles and other recyclable trash and sold them to buy food, drinks, and petrol. He mostly slept at petrol stations because he thought they were safe and had toilets where he could shower.

Loi added that he lived alone after he divorced his wife, and his children had left home to build their families. He wanted to enjoy the beach and sea at least once in his life and this motivated him to embark on this epic journey to Koh Chang in Trat.

Loi told the reporter that his main concern was his ageing motorcycle, which he feared could break down unpredictably. He mentioned that he had previously embarked on motorcycle trips from his home to the northern province of Chiang Rai and was hopeful for a successful journey this time.

The reporter observed that Loi’s motorcycle was laden with plastic bottles and recyclable items. They were collected by Loi, who intended to sell them to finance his dream trip. Attached to his motorcycle was a small sign, handwritten by Loi.

It said…

“I am an old man on a journey from Ubon Ratchathani to Trat. I am collecting rubbish along the way to earn money for the journey. This old man welcomes any support from you. Thank you for supporting me.

Freshly grilled seafood and five-star hotels

Loi’s inspiring story gained traction on Thai social media, garnering support from petrol station attendants and locals throughout his journey until he reached Trat on March 8. Loi told the media that he would taste the sea water, to see whether it was salty as others had told him.

Locals in Trat together with the Trat Tourism Council were looking forward to welcoming Loi. He got a free ferry trip from the province’s mainland to Koh Chang. The owner of a seafood restaurant, 58 year old Pichit Wongpaikorn, offered grilled seafood to Loi for free as a welcome meal.

Loi stayed on the island for three days and got free accommodation from two five-star hotels, Marina Sands Resort Koh Chang and the Aiyapura Resort.

Loi enjoyed a boat trip, dancing and fire shows, and multiple Koh Chang signature dishes. The pictures and videos of Loi running and playing in the sea were shared on Thai social media, and all netizens were happy for him.

Loi extended his beach adventure to another island, Koh Kood, today, March 11, before journeying back home on his trusty sidecar motorcycle. Channel 3 reported that numerous hotels and restaurants generously supported him, striving to ensure his inaugural beach excursion became the highlight of his life.

It is heartening to witness Loi’s dream materialise. Many elderly individuals in Thailand may harbour similar aspirations but encounter financial hurdles.

ThaiRath reported that the majority of elderly Thai citizens are ill-prepared for retirement, facing low incomes and inadequate savings. Furthermore, the country provides limited welfare support for its elderly residents.

Only 5% of the elderly population earn enough to save, with the majority either continuing to work post-retirement or relying on their children and younger family members for financial assistance.

@trattvonline

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Author: Petch Petpailin