Global bikers converge on Patong
Tuesday 12 April 2011, 03:07AM
The petrol fumes may have now cleared, but it was all about leather, engines and two wheels when Bike Week rumbled into Patong on April 8.
More than 30,000 motorcycle enthusiasts and riders from around the world converged on Phuket for the event from April 8-10, bringing with them more than 6,000 rare big bikes.
The annual Phuket Bike Week has been held for the past 17 years by Phuket province together with Patong Municipality and motorbike groups such as Phuket Riders Club, Heroes-End MC, Ride Thailand Magazine, and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT).
The effects on local business, struggling after recent flooding in the south, were obvious.
Patong hotels reported more than 95 per cent occupancy during the event, a trend that should continue throughout the Songkran festival.
The restaurants and bars lining Patong beach also reported double the usual patronage, with most of the extra business coming from bikers.
The staff of motorbike shops across the island were also kept busy.
“We sold one bike this week and have repaired at least 20 big bikes,” said Teddy “Doc” Fagerstorm, director of West Coast Riders on bypass road.
“Moreover, Bike Week helps in tightening up the relationship between Thailand bikers. We worked together very well.”
Jakrapong Rattanapoj, a member of Heroes End MC, said the reason Thailand attracts so many international bikers is because of its friendly environment.
“In some foreign countries, fights between bikers are quite common. But in Thailand, there is none of that because all bikers are treated with respect. All Thailand bike clubs adhere to a strict rule that we have created together, that bikers should not be involved with drugs and fighting,” said Mr Jakrapong.
“We explained to every international biker who wanted to join bike week that if you come here, you have to be well-behaved. So the event remained peaceful and there remains no discrimination among us.”
The participants of Bike Week also took part in giving something back to Phuket during the event by helping promote the island’s road safety campaign, environmental conservation and fund raising for local charities.
“This event means a lot to bikers,” Doc said, “because it gives us an opportunity to do something positive for the community.”
The event attracted enthusiasts from 26 countries, most of whom are expected to remain in Phuket over Songkran.