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Trust Thy Scooter, Trust Thyself

January 15, 2013

“Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel”- Jim Morrison

“If clarity is what you seek then you’ll need to keep your eyes open. Distraction hides it away. Gratitude holds the keys. Recharge and be good to yourself. ” – Cory Schile

Had breakfast at Dian and wrote. By noon my new friend Ian had rented a scooter ($5) in hopes of heading to Gunung Kawi – one of Bali’s oldest and largest monuments. I saw one helmet.

“This is for you,” he said.

As we got on the scooter, I asked if we could rent just a helmet.

He said, “Yeah,” but when we got to the scooter shop and the lady asked, “Just a helmet?” I nodded and Ian said, “Another scooter, because it’s a long way.”

Given the fact that my Canadian friends Shawn and Emma had a scooter accident three days ago in Denpasar, combined with yesterday’s afternoon rains, I was trepidatious and wary, my intuition was against the idea, and strongly. Either Ian didn’t pick up on it or ignored it, smiling the whole time. The staff read me well, however, and just before we were to leave, the guy came over to me and asked if I’d driven one before.

“Once,” I replied, though one jaunt with my friend Kathleen through Beacon Hill Park in Victoria, BC maybe only counts as a half time? I was glad when he ran through the basics – signals, lights, brake.

“Don’t press front brake first or,” and he motioned to the bike flipping over forward. He was uncertain, I was even more so, and I believe I said, “I’m not sure about this,” three times. We agreed we should have left in the morning, as rain was sure to roll in, especially in the afternoon, and the sky had begun to deepen in grey.

“If there is an accident, you pay a hundred dollars,” I was nicely warned.

“I’m more worried about getting hurt than I am the money,” I told the guy. “As long as it doesn’t pool,” I said to Ian, managing an optimistic moment, “and the roads aren’t up and down.” Yesterday while driving there were big pools and relentless buckets for a good hour and a half. Again Ian was smiling. And we were off…

We started out on congested but one-way Monkey Tree Forest Road. We got petrol (about $12 to fill up) just as the sky began to spit – ever so gently at first. We put on our rain gear – my gear consisted of a $1.99 rain poncho from Canadian Tire that effectively covered most of me and all of my bag. And then the heavens opened up onto all of us, and it pooled. And pooled and pooled. Thunder roared and lightning cracked. We stealthily navigated the wet terrain, around cracks, potholes and random rocks double the size of my foot. The roads, too, were deceptive in their rises and falls, but we drove carefully and the further we went, the less the traffic.

We drove by at least fifty wood carving shops and galleries, countless family corner stores, sarong and artisan shops. There were parts where we were the only ones on the road, and we passed by so many gorgeous rice paddies, filling up with muddy waters, and being tended to by workers nearby and in the distance. About the time I thought, “Wow, this is so beautiful, rural, all the paddies and all the temples tucked in between local shops, and almost no one on the road… I wonder if we’re going the right way, but I don’t much care either way,” Ian pulled over and asked a local. Yes, we’d gone too far, but not much.

Soon we arrived at Gunung Kawi and we thought, Tirta Empul – holy springs believed to have magical powers. We got sarongs put on us, the rain barely spitting now, and walked around, noting fountains, fish, offerings and jasmine incense. We talked a bit about our romantic situations back home – mine being complicated, his being currently open, so if I want to make out on this trip – and then we separately (me on the Wanita side, he on the Pria) dipped in the holy springs. I felt happy, capable, and a free ‘traditional rain shower treatment’ to boot! Confidence Boost #1: I did it!!

Turns out we reached Tirta Empul – which is one kilometre away from Gunung Kawi. We bathed in water, though its holiness is… not certified. But no matter the destination, the journey was a wet and really fun ride. I felt happy, capable, and we got a free ‘traditional rain shower treatment’ too!

On the way back I stopped to take photos and Ian got a coconut. I led a bit of the way, as there were spots I wanted to take shots of and also, I wanted to find where Warung Lezat, where Koko’s playing blues tonight, was. Ian led the last few minutes back to the scooter place and we were just about to shut off the scooters when the lady smiled and said – or did she ask? – “Take in back?” My intuition was strong on this, “No,” but I once again overruled my inner voice, and decided, what with the experience I’d gathered from the day, the carefulness and skill I had demonstrated, to make the ninety degree right turn with about six inches to do it in, and take the scooter in the back. I put my right hand on the gas, left ever so barely loosening it’s grip on the rear brake, and as I attempted to maneuver the scooter around to the right, it jumped forward just enough to poke a metal trinkets and coconut rings rack, but then plowed forward still, knocking the whole rack down, about 40 rings and many odd metal things – well, I shouldn’t say odd, but they looked like coloured metal pufferfish Christmas ornaments. I swear I had my left hand on the rear break but my right hand must have still been caressing the gas.

“And everything was going so well,” Ian sputtered.

Confidence kill #1: I just rammed the scooter into the shop’s front trinkets rack. I see sad faces.

My stomach sunk. Ker plunk! Twice Ian had started driving on the wrong (right) side of the road – true, scooters can drive on both sides, but both times he approached oncoming traffic – luckily they all were moving slowly! Nothing was scathed and he, of course, was smiling. But I, from a stopped position, technically crashed the scooter. I felt so badly, embarrassed, surprised and disappointed all mixed together.

“We go in back,” the guy told me. “Why you don’t leave it in front?”

“I was going to and then the lady said to take it in back. I am so sorry.” He looked the bike over, not much damage except the front license plate was bent a bit.

“You have to pay… not much… 100,000 Rp ($10). No issues financially, but it surprisingly shook me up some. Earlier in the day, Ian had said his place was great and I should check it out, maybe get a room there too.

“I guess you probably don’t want to stay here now,” he said, trying to make light. “No,” I put my tail between my legs and bid my new friend Ian a, “Probably see you later.”

I am grateful for…

Most impressive ancient site in Bali

Most impressive ancient site in Bali

Lush PaddyPaddy Workers


From → Bali

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