I must be the only person on all of Bali who’s not allowed a motor scooter.
Ever since I got my license and a car when I was a teenager, driving has been crucial to me. I’ve done periods of time without a car, but driving represents freedom and independence. I usually feel a bit stuck without one. I’ve driven up and down the East Coast of Australia dozens of times; camping, surfing, visiting friends and family. I drove across Australia from Byron Bay to Perth on my own in 2001. I lived and worked in a roadhouse in the middle of nowhere, and drove 300kms to the local waterhole on my weekends to visit my lovely German boyfriend who was fruit-picking ‘up the road’. I drove a fuck-off van from the U.S, through Mexico, to Guatemala in my 20s. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked when the motor-scooter company in Canggu, Bali wouldn’t rent me a moped.
I’m staying at a Homestay in Canggu, with a lovely priest and his lovely wife. Originally, I thought I’d be able to walk to the beach every day to go for a surf, but when I arrived I realised it’s quite a long distance and I’m pretty much the only person walking it; along a road with no footpath and 50 bajillion mopeds hooning past.
I asked the priest where I could hire a motor scooter and he called his friend who brought one over. I was about to sign up for it, but when I asked his offsider how you turn it on, the owner was like “Nope! I can’t do it. From my heart, it’s dangerous”. I was pretty gobsmacked. Tourists tear around here without helmets, and I thought that’s just the way it is. He let me take a little one for a ride up the driveway, and I ended up with a wheel in a gutter and someone had to help me get it out. The guy was really lovely, and I felt it took a lot of integrity to say no, so I appreciated his conscientiousness. It was a bit annoying that I’d have to walk everywhere with my surfboard. So, time to get some lessons!
This morning the priest asked, “Do you want me to call my friend and get a lesson?” 5 minutes later, a very young kid arrived and doubled me on the back of his scooter to a quiet street (through rice fields!). I drove up and down it a couple of times, and then turned onto my horrible busy street, did a huge, twisting, green block for 15 minutes or so, then came back to my house.
I’m on the road again.