Learning to ride a sepeda motor & not freak the fuck out.
Updated: Jun 14, 2020
Bali is a fabulous place clearly a myriad of reasons as why I have chosen to base myself here.... learning to ride a scooter was not one of them.....
Being on a bike in Bali is like swimming in a school of fish everyone moves in and about each other it ebbs & flows sometimes it is just banyak macek - much traffic and your 10km per hour comes to a complete stop. I also think of it like ikat the traditional weaving where we are all threads weaving in an out of each other the part of the pattern off life in Bali
So many stories about people living their best Bali lives doing jackass stupid stuff on bikes... Canggu i am looking at you.... you see this on the news you think that this is the whole story... Its not ... but yes there are idiots out there and as my dad would say "bloody temporary Australians"
So lets back track a bit I probably should have learned to ride a scooter earns ago however a few things have stalled me gaining my Indonesian independence
1) When we were own schoolies in Surfers Paradise in 1987 it was a pretty rad thing to do back then & we really did go to the beach & hang out pot was about the only drug around & we were more about having Fluffy Ducks at the Pink Poodle (aka cocktails in a retro hotel) We did for some reason think it was a good idea to hire a scooter..... my friends were way better at this than me..... I can't believe anyone considered letting a bunch of 17 years olds hire shiny red vespas ???? No one showed me how to ride it was I supposed to be born with this skill??? (apparently everyone in South East Asia is) It was a disaster, I think I took a walk of shame (not to be confused with the walk of shame)& pushed that shiny red Vespa right back to the rental joint.
2) My dad has been a serious influence on my lack of skills here..... the words "temporary Australian", "bloody fools" & "bloody motor bike idiots" all said in a voice of disgust weighed heavily as a kid and hung around right up to me letting go of my fears & daily visualising my success at riding a scooter. Pretty sure there is photographic evidence of dad on a motorbike & possibly too his brother Bob... While I appreciate his dadness to protect his kidlings.... I cannot let my dads language & baggage be mine & it has taken 49 years to realise that I can let that go, that his fears do not have to be mine. Note I don't want to disappoint him & I will wear a helmet & promise to only drive at 10-20km per hour on a scooter not a motor bike. Sorry dad but I really need to jump this hurdle.
3) One of my besties JBean likes bikes. Actually I think that is an understatement lol his passion for racing motorbikes like Eastern Creek style racing & professional approach to safety i.e. kevlar/ leather & protective everything for his track bikes.... track bikes that some how got on a road that some how lead to me meeting him in hospital & doing his grocery runs while he recovered form some pretty bloody serious injuries it scared me to see him in that state he has been rebuilt a few times.... I shake my head in amazement at what he can & still does put his body through. I love him to death but certainly don't want his bike experiences to be mine..... bless him he doesn't want his bike experiences to be mine either and offered to buy me a full face Hello Kitty helmet for my birthday he knows me well :)
4) Bali bogans or ..... being a dick on a bike. Point four I would like to note does not apply only to Australians there are all manner of international offenders you need only to seek out @thecanggupole on Instagram to see dumbarsery in action sweet baby jesus people, sex on a bike no "protection" Its not the Bali way it is the idiot way & its a complete lack of respect for anyone else on the road never mind a respect for their own lives ...... was that a rant???? Put helmets on your kids people & side note a Baby Bjorn is not safety wear for a newborn.
Ok so rant over fear expunged my Crazy Corsican neighbour has offered to teach me how to ride a scooter turns out even though unlicensed he is actually a good teacher ... So Bali....
Lesson 1 The Crazy Corsican Neighbour is pillion passenger to me in the front seat sweating in my shorts I may need to pee (again) giving me instructions. My first thirty minutes.... I am sweating feel like I need to take up smoking Semoporna & slamming a few vodka rocks to calm my nerves followed by a deep tissue massage... I also think I now have mild turrets & may need a new heart.
Lesson 2 We go on a main road.... lol aha you thought I was straight out there bahaha No I was not I was still a back street Betty. Sooo off we go & I have relaxed my shoulders & am feeling a bit better its not actually that bad we go in traffic my Crazy Corsican Neighbour is patient & encouraging all the while giving me super helpful instructions which I am stamping into my adult brain. Its just a matter of 5 million other moving parts and finding out where you fit it ... perhaps I am not quite peak hour traffic capable but we did drive for about 40 minutes uphill & down dale turning corners coordinating indicating I felt more relaxed still needed to go home pee, change my clothes & contemplate a nervous poo.
Lesson 3 Woot woot no pillion passenger for me! I am am now tracking my CCN tasked with following him as we move in the traffic onto living & breathing heaving roads of Bali. No near misses only patient people & impatient people. I learn t refuel the bike - kinda important- we get to the Gu & back OMG I am actually doing it .... I need to get a seat cover I am sweating balls do they make them in terry towelling - are they even a thing? Well they are going to be now...no wonder the local ladies wrap a sarong before they hoon off.
My friend Jake helps me hire a Scoopy. I ask him to find me a Hello Kitty one he refuses, I am pretty sure the concept fair & squire unearths his masculinity ... I explain that there is a dude that drives one to Wacko Burger around the corner.... I will have to go negotiate terms of a sale with him at a later date How cool would a Hello Kitty Scoopy be!!!!!.
The Scoopy is home delivered by a 12 year old who has been riding since he was 2. Said Scoopy doesn't do more than 45km per hour I like it, its white & gold and already has scratches from past hires so it feels worn in I feel like the previous riders have taken one for the team. Fingers crossed I can identify it in the thousands of others that line the streets. I put a sticker on it & claim it as my own ...am still working on names cause natch I am gonna have to chat with him enroute.
So three hours of lessons after 6 months of riding my push bike in and out of traffic I am not overly cocky nor am I fearful. I feel vigilant always expect the unexpected cause Bali drivers drive any & everywhere no footpath is sacred riders will "naik di atas & naik di bawah" go up & down the foot paths as they Ikat weave in & out of traffic....not me just yet but as my CCN pointed out "the point is not to sit behind a car otherwise whats the fucking point?" tru dat
I am also going to be a nicer pedestrian in light of my newly elevated status to scooter rider.
OK am off to get a bubble tea I have earned it :)