Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Although I cannot claim at being anywhere near a ‘petrol head’ and take little pleasure in all things auto, I did however jump at the chance to try go-karting on my recent weekend trip to Pattaya. Located right beside my abode, it could not have been easier to reach. Deciding to forgo the joys of the go-go bars along Walking Street for one night, my colleague Holger and I hit the EasyKart track on a barmy Sunday night around 9 pm (open daily 10 am-1 am).

Drivers can choose between the beginner, advanced and children’s track. Being wimps (well, me at any rate), the German and I opted for the first. For Bht 450 we got to zip around the 350m-long track as many times as we liked in 8 minutes, driving a 160 cc kart that could reach top speeds of 40 kmh (although not nearly that fast in my case). Safety is important, so a helmet (provided) and closed-toe shoes are mandatory [if you don’t have, they rent shoes for Bht 50]; they also have complimentary racing suits (optional) for a little added glam and protection. Besides that, it’s pretty straight forward: accelerator on your left, brake on your right, steering wheel in the middle and away you go...

And so we headed off. Being chivalrous I let Holger go first... Eating his dust I set off soon after and continued to trail him for the remainder of the time (in truth he lapped me several times!). It turns out that living abroad for so long and not driving a car (approx. 10 years) has had a hazardous affect on my motor skills. Getting my feet and brain to coordinate was frustratingly tricky and annoyingly slow. Fortunately there we no other punters using the track at the same time as us, for undoubtedly they would have found my erratic zig-zagging and careening (hug the corners!!!) around the track somewhat annoying and/or dangerous! Fortunately Holger is a good sport and masterfully side-stepped me and continued on his merry way.

I must say after about the 10th lap I was starting to get a little bored with the whole thing and wondering if I could make a quick pit-stop to use the loo (all the excitement you know!). I honestly don’t know how Formula One drivers do it, maybe it’s a “chick” thing, but I found the whole thing rather dull and extremely repetitive. But, as I’m not one to give up, I wearily kept going in circles until finally I saw the attendant madly waving the red flag signalling that we should haul our arses in. I must admit, I was not saddened by this, I was starting to feel nauseous, my palms were killing me from gripping the damn steering wheel too hard and my bum was a little dumb from the seat.

And so, with Holger grinning from ear-to-ear and mumbling something about giving it another go and progressing to the faster 70/kmh advanced track, I ponder the strange proclivities of man’s obsession with speed and my own yearning for a bath and a good book. Whilst I did have glimmers of fun, namely the first two minutes, I did not find it nearly as fun, challenging or varied as off-road quad bike riding. But still, there are not so many things you can do in just 8 minutes – knit a sock, watch a 1/3 of a sitcom, cook four rounds of 2-minute noodles – and I reckon this is one of the best.

At the end of your ride the management provide each rider with a print out of their lap times and other particulars like “best time of the today” and “best times of the month” (not surprisingly I did not make either list!). In 14 laps I managed a top speed of 0:33:979, averaging 0:36:009. Holger on the other hand managed a nifty 16 laps, with a top speed of 0:25:579 and an average speed of 0:28:483. According to the Leader Board the record belongs to DJ with an impressive Schumaker-esque 0:23:033.

Getting there: As I mentioned above, EasyKart is located beside the Siam Bayshore Resort & Spa on the southern end of Pattaya Bay behind Bali Hai Pier. From the hotel head out the back entrance (Beach Road) and turn left towards the pier. Walk straight for 200m past the 7/11 store and then take the small road heading off to the left. Follow it around and EasyKart is on your left-hand side, you really can’t miss it. For those not able to reach Pattaya, there is also an outlet in Bangkok, located at RCA Plaza nearby Sukhumvit. For more information go to www.easykart.net.

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