Bust A Move are posts focused on what Tyler and Megan are thinking and learning before, during and after their move to another country.
Driving in Bali, you wonder why there aren't accidents constantly. Scooters and cars rarely staying in lanes, intersections without stop signs, motorbikes taking to sidewalks during rush hour, and it all takes place on some of the most intense roads you'll ever drive.
The roads around Bali are bonkers—80% of the roads here are one lane and couldn’t safely handle two American-sized pickup trucks passing each other in opposite directions. Plus they’re treacherous, twisty and loaded with potholes. That’s why it’s a coincidence that when I got into my scooter accident, it was because I was driving on what I would consider “a westernized road.”
I got into an accident driving on Bali’s only proper freeway system—a smooth six-lane affair (three lanes in each direction) where both scooters and cars are barreling down at closer to 50mph instead of their typical 25. This type of driving (especially on scooter) quickly chips away your nerves, and after three wrong turns in 30 minutes, I pulled over out of frustration. Angry and not concentrating, I told Megan to get off the bike and began aggressively pulling it into place to reenter traffic by its handlebars.
In doing this, I accidentally twisted the accelerator…
That gentle torque sent the scooter flying out from under me, launching it 5 feet into the air and dropping it into the center lane of oncoming traffic.
Now, you know Bali traffic is a stream. If it’s not congested it’s flowing, and this was early morning so traffic was at it’s fastest. For some reason, let’s call it divine intervention, the moment the scooter fell into traffic there was almost a 10 foot gap before the next wave of scooters and cars. Nobody was crushed, knocked off their own bike, all the drivers (one in a van-sized dump truck) had ample time to brake.
The result was a lot of deep scratches all over the body of the bike, some shredded paint on the front fender and a front wheel that was now basically parallel with our handlebars. So, that was out situation and I’m still here to tell you that everything is going to be fine. Because if you’re ok it will be…
These things are all over the country, and they don’t look like much. This is a photo taken from outside of ours. That sign is less than half the size of your scooter. As you’re driving through the country, you’ll barely pay attention to how many of these types of shops there are until you need one. Putra Motor here was only a mile away from our accident, but about the 3rd one we passed by—a few other shops told us they couldn’t help.
If you’re from the U.S., you know how much paperwork and VIN writing and signatures have to be traded back-and-forth before a mechanic even looks at your bike. Not in Bali. We wobbled in, and within 20 seconds one of the mechanics was already starting to take off the front end of the scooter. The “business card” they gave us was a ripped-off portion of an invoice that had its telephone number scratched out and rewritten in pen. A day later, when we weren’t as filled with adrenaline, we were immediately struck with how informal this all was and assumed our bike was being chopped for parts.
I’m not sure if we got lucky that we found our mechanic, or that’s just who Balinese people are, but I’m going to always assume the latter. This man, who saw two foreigners scared and in need, did the only thing he knew how to do…fix our scooter at a price he’d charge everybody else.
We were so thankful to hear this that we actually gave him 150,000 (have you ever tipped your mechanic?) Now I’m not saying your price will be this low, but my feeling is that outside of tourist-heavy places like Kuta, most people are happy when they can help you. They’re content making a fair wage for fair work here, and that shines through.
So, those are a few worries I had and a few things I wish I heard after my scooter accident. People in Bali are some of the friendliest and outgoing you’ll ever meet, and just because you have western money doesn’t mean you’re a target—they want to help as much as you want to experience. So take a deep breath, everything’s going to be fine, and for god’s sake take your hand off the accelerator when you’re not on the bike.
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