On the first day I said I wouldn’t need it. I’d walk.
The second day’s walk I hailed a ride.
The third day I rented a scooter, just for the week.
The second week I extended it for the whole month.
The scooter proved to be very easy to drive. The driving rules very difficult to understand. And this is what I can tell you about driving a scooter (In Indonesia).
1. When you think you don’t fit: you fit. There is apparently no space through which an Indonesian guy in a scooter cannot go through. It’s as if the trees move when you need to pass between them. Being on the back of a scooter? Tuck your knees in!
2. Always, always, drive a helmet. Except if you’re wearing those earrings. Or if you arranged your hair beautifully. Or if you went in a shop and then left without a helmet, and then you started feeling so free, and you started wondering how you’ve never felt that way while driving the scooter, suddenly you see police looking suspiciously at you, and then sounds start being overwhelming, because you can hear everything, because you’re not wearing a helmet. So you make it home, and with the 35 degree Celsius you walk back to the shop to get your helmet, to avoid the risk of police looking at you suspiciously once more.
3. No matter what you do, you’re being honked at. Too slow? too fast? on the right? on the left? overcharged? not looking when turning? looking when turning? using lights? not using them?? Just to say hi? You’re being honked at. Join the club (I have) and honk.
4. There is (although I have not tried this myself) no amount of junk that cannot be put on a scooter, only if you arrange it properly: I have seen scooters with 12 cages with roosters, with car tyres, with gas tanks (I love this one for some reason), with surf boards (one or 2 or 3 and the optional second passenger on it). Scooters with baskets that overdo the size of the scooter by 5, scooters with 6 pairs of legs (quite hard to make if it was 5 or 6 but it turned out there were indeed 6 people of all sizes). I feel adventurous when I am carrying my backpack AND my laundry at the same time, and even then the laundry guy offered to help me load the scooter after I’ve sat on it and started the engine (I take he underestimates my skill).
5. It seems safe to leave the helmet on the scooter. Or not. I mean it is safe to leave it and no one will steal it. But you might put it back on and remember: it just rained the most torrential rain for an hour and a half, and half of that rain is still in my helmet. NEVER, leave it upside down. I know it sounds obvious, but I dare you to remember THAT!
6. If there is no space on your lane, then for sure the other lane can take one more, in the wrong direction. This is the most adrenaline shooting sport. You see the other scooter coming right at you. It is advisable not to move from your route, since they are doing the manoeuvre, you continue your journey (not without honking) and you let them get out of your way, they surely have a plan, on time.
7. We drive on the left. A brain-wrecker. So the turns take place the other way around, the stop, the passing over, also you should drive on the leftest side of the lane (not only on the left lane). And while you try to remember this you are honked at, and then you see a blonde girl (this is a true case, not just saying she was blonde for the story) take the main avenue on the right lane, about 35 scooters honk simultaneously, and she fights the traffic like there was no tomorrow, when she’s almost by my side (me going opposite to her) I hear her say: is this a one way street? No darling. We drive on the left.
8. When you need petrol, there isn’t any. I have the bad habit of charging petrol at the latest hours of the day, so that’s something I would typically do on my way home after dinner. Not here. There are not many petrol stations. And how do we get petrol? Well, people put little tables on the edge or side of the road with the sign “Petrol” and you stop for them to pour one (or more) litters of unknown petrol from a bottle of Absolut Vodka. Welcome to Indonesia.
9. Have you travelled 2.5 hours on a scooter? I need a butt transplant.
10. Someone (almost) always, is there to help. Wether it is to park, to start, to move, the scooter. And also, someone is (almost) always there to charge you for the parking. How do I get away with it? Today the ‘parking’ guy came over to charge his “fee” and I asked him, where you here when I arrived? he said yes. So why didn’t you tell me something about the fee then? He said: ok, go…
I hope you enjoy the ride of the story, more to come, follow me on instagram @igoyoa!