Hua Hin & Cha-Am Today often publishes stories about social events including weddings, anniversaries and birthdays. However this social event is a little different to the mainstream. We were invited to join in the birthday celebration of the President of the Eastside Choppers Motorcycle Club, Niclas Nyberg, or ‘Nikki’ to his friends and fellow Club Members.
I was thinking about a sub heading for this article such as: ‘What do you say when you are invited to the President of the Eastside Choppers Motorcycle Club’s birthday party? – Answer: YES! However this would be giving the wrong impression; we really wanted to go!
Nikki’s birthday party was held at the Club House of the ‘Choppers’ on Narathip Road Cha-Am. The guests included many wearing the ‘Support Eastside Choppers’ T-Shirt as a sign of their approval of the Club, including the owners and staff of nearby businesses. The Club House poses no problems for these ‘locals’ and Nikki is clearly a popular figure in the neighbourhood. Of course many of the guests were Club Members but there were also Members of other motor cycle clubs from various parts of Thailand and overseas joining in the festivities.
Incidentally, ‘Bella Restaurant & Pizzeria’ provided the catering. Once again the restaurant showed how to ensure that party guests really enjoy their food. Well done Khun Daeng and his staff!
We were guided through the process of becoming a Club Member and given some insights into their activities by the friendly Club Members. The first qualification for Membership of this Club (not necessarily other Clubs) is the ownership of a Harley-Davidson motor cycle. A ‘Harley’ would be considered the quintessential bikers’ motor bike and obviously revered by the Club. After spending some time getting to know the Members and participating in Club activities the next stage is to become a ‘prospect’. Being accepted as a ‘prospect’ indicates that the Club Membership feels comfortable with the new person’s involvement with the Club. It’s like a one year period of probation with someone of authority in the Club being a designated ‘mentor’ to ensure that the ‘prospect’ understands and accepts Club Rules and expectations. If all is well, when this period is completed the Club may then have a new Member.
The Club was described as a way for motorcycle enthusiasts to join together with others with the same interests in a very social way. Joint rides to various parts of the countryside is a frequent activity. Thailand has more than 100 Clubs similar to this one. Because the Clubs are comfortable to socialise together there is likely to be a party at the end of the ride hosted by the home Club. In many overseas countries Clubs are not so friendly with each other and this would be a recipe for mayhem; not so in Thailand!
We understand that the ‘Choppers’ have a positive relationship with the various authorities (including the Police) in the Region. The Club is eager to be contributing community organisation. Being involved in charity fund raising events is one example of this approach. As an aside it was noted that many Club Members spend time overseas working in either maritime or other industries that have strict drug testing regimes. The notion that Motorcycle Club Members are likely to be involved in this scene just doesn’t fit with this Club.
The Eastside Choppers certainly follow the ‘dangerous’ image with black and leather being the predominant visual impression. Of course the Club ‘patch’ also follows this image with a liking for skulls or other less than friendly logos. However this is not really something to be feared by others in the community. The aggressive, illegal and sometimes violent behaviour of some overseas Clubs isn’t acceptable to this Club. These often feared groups may best be described as ‘criminal gangs’ rather than Clubs. The Choppers have shown by example they are ‘good neighbours’ and not antisocial.
Thanks to Nikki and the ‘boys’ for their hospitality and openness. And of course – Happy Birthday Mr President!