Learning to Ride the Scooter in Bali

I have always aspired to ride a scooter or a motorbike. I had observed how nearly everyone rides one in Taiwan, Indonesia and Thailand. An acquaintance once mentioned that if I knew how to ride a bicycle, then riding a scooter would come naturally to me. As it turns out, this was indeed the case.

Starting to ride a scooter was intimidating for a couple reasons. I doubted whether I had the strength to keep the motorbike upright, and I wasn’t sure if I had the courage to ride at faster speeds than on a bicycle. I had my fair share of accidents on the latter, included one that caused injuries in multiple places. Given the increased speed of a scooter and the recklessness of other drivers on the road, I believe that my fear was justified.

That’s why, rather than relying on a friend to teach me, I decided to take a lesson with Kadek Local Bali Tours. I find that investing in a two-hour session with a qualified instructor before venturing onto the roads was money well spent.

The instructor, Kadek himself, is a natural teacher! When I met him in an empty parking lot in Canggu, he patiently explained the basic controls and safety measures of his Scoopy, which is the lightest scooter available. For the entire two-hour session, we focused solely on practicing in the parking lot, which was no small feat. Kadek mentioned that some individuals require a week worth of lessons to become proficient, so I was actually learning quickly.

To be fair again, I already had experience riding a bicycle on busy roads, so my balancing skills were already quite developed. But for everything else with the motorbike, Kadek’s guidance stayed with me throughout the remainder of my trip and helped keep me safe during my first-time scooter riding experience. I highly recommend choosing Kadek as an instructor!

The following day in Legian, I rented a Scoopy and immediately set out on the road to Ubud, which was over an hour away. The terrain was a bit hilly and winding, but not as challenging as the stretch I later rode on Java from Banyuwangi to Licin. Nevertheless, I took my time to acclimate to the heavy traffic and average road conditions. Eventually, as I continued my journey towards Gilimanuk and back, I encountered potholes and slow-moving trucks, which required me to navigate my way carefully to reach my destination. My previous experience with navigating busy Taiwanese city traffic on a bicycle certainly came in handy!

the rain was the most challenging aspect of my journey. I experienced rain twice: once on my trip back from Ubud to Seminyak after dark, and the other on my way to Ubud from Gilimanuk. Both were equally treacherous, from the slippery roads that caused me to skid once, to the floods in Denpasar. If possible, I would avoid riding in the rain while in Bali.

Despite the challenges of navigating the lawless roads of Indonesia, I found myself missing the convenience of traveling on a motorbike. It’s undoubtedly the most efficient way to get around the island, even if it sometimes requires lengthy rides. I would definitely do it again to explore more of Bali and beyond, with the hope of having improved skills by then.

*All photos featured in this story are taken by the author.

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