*As published on Ajarn.com on 9th Feb 2014.
From the second, I turned into the road, I knew something was wrong. Traffic was queued bumper to bumper as far as I could see in front of me. I was just coming out from the regular Friday evening walking street market in Bophut and even though there were normally lots of cars and bikes, it was never like this.
Luckily, being on a bike, I could sneak into the space on the left and slip past the cars. Then I saw the lights and I knew – there’d been an accident and living on Samui, it was highly unlikely this was an accident between two cars and was almost guaranteed to involve a bike. My stomach sank – a girl had just been killed on this very stretch of road last Friday.
I rode slowly up towards the lights and then I saw it … the blood. Lots and lots of blood. People were crouching over a man’s form which was splayed awkwardly out on the road. He wasn’t moving, he wasn’t groaning, he wasn’t whimpering. The only reason I knew he was alive was that someone was holding his bloodied head very still and shouting commands to other people. I felt sick. The bikes in front of me had all stopped to rubberneck and I couldn’t go any further. As much as I didn’t want to look, my eyes were just drawn to his limp body. What had happened? Was anyone else hurt? Was he in pain? Was he conscious? Did he have insurance? Who could contact his family? And how could anyone, ANYONE, survive with that much blood loss.
I could hear sirens and realised an ambulance was on its way. I tore my eyes away with a sick feeling in my stomach. Then I realised what was missing. My head swung back to his body and I force myself to look at his head and sadly, my suspicions were right. Judging from what was missing from his head and his related injuries, he was NOT wearing a helmet!
I surprised myself by suddenly feeling very angry. Every day, hundreds of tourists descend on Koh Samui and for the time that they are here, seem to leave their brains at home. Riding around on bikes like crazy things, darting in and out of traffic, shouting to each other, racing each other and often driving while WELL under the influence of drink and who knows what else. And, you guessed it, with no helmets.
What is it with tourists that they feel they have no need to wear helmets? Do they think that there is some weird Asian spiritual field hanging over Koh Samui that protects their precious heads from being scraped, sliced or split open. Yeah, you might not look cool but seriously, looking at what was left of this guy’s head, he didn’t look cool either. At least if you wear a helmet, you can take it off at some point and then look cool – I doubt this guy is going to look cool for a very long time.
I’m not saying that this guy was a reckless driver, was drunk or acting like a crazy tourist, but I am saying that if he was wearing a helmet, his head might look in a better state than it did right now. I really hope that he survived.
Wear your helmets people!! They’re not fashion items, they’re life savers and there to protect your head.