Deciding to hire a scooter in Bali

David sitting on a scooter outside West Break Bali. Deciding to hire a scooter in Bali.

I’ve been to Bali at least six times, and this is the first time I have decided to hire a scooter.

Technically, David hired it, and as of this moment, I have not ridden it by myself.

When we arrived here 10 days ago, our host, Muklis from Medewi Secret Surf Camp, advised us not to ride a scooter ourselves.

It can be very dangerous, and if you do not have experience, it might not be a safe place to learn.

The roads are very narrow, with many broken patches, and some locals ride as if they were Casey Stoner on the last lap of the championship race.

When we relocated to West Break Bali, our new host, Boy, said exactly the same thing.

Considering both fellows make money from hiring scooters, their advice comes from their hearts.

Joy on the back of a scooter being driven by a local Balinese man.

Joy arrived back at Medewi Secret Surf Camp on the back of her escort’s scooter. Captured by David Masefield

Feeling restricted

So, I obediently sent a WhatsApp message requesting a ride whenever I wanted to go somewhere that was not practical to walk to.

After several days, I started to feel restricted. Getting to my yoga class each day after work needed to happen in a fairly short window of time.

If the surf was up, my drivers would likely be out riding waves, not scooters.

Having witnessed my mood change on previous occasions when my independence we limited, David took action.

David and Joy with helmets on

David and Joy with their scooter helmets on. 

We now have a Honda scooter and two helmets for less than $5 a day. It turns out that you can buy freedom after all!

Medewi is not as busy as other places in Bali, like Kuta or Canggu, but many trucks and buses are on the small road that passes through the village.

Advice for riding a scooter

Of course, Muklis and Boys’ advice is definitely not to be dismissed. Even Adinda, my yoga teacher and Eco, David’s surf instructor, expressed their concern as well. Their advice:

”If you must ride, go slow and stay left”.

So, for the last few days we have had our scooter, we have ridden it about 10 times. To cafes, yoga, surf spots, fuel station, and scooter service centre.

It turns out that scooter tyres get punctured fairly easily and often.

A scooter with a surfboard on the side, parked beside rice paddies in Bali.

The road through the rice paddies leads to yoga and also to a good surf spot. Captured by David Masefield.

The other advice I got was to keep a few basic supplies in the compartment under the seat, such as:

  • A few 2000 rupiah notes – this is what it costs to get someone to check your tyres and top up the air (about 20 cents)
  • A raincoat – especially when you are here in the rainy season
  • A tote bag – if you need to carry something that doesn’t fit under the seat

In hindsight, I wish someone had advised David how to get fuel like a local.

Lessons learned on the road

In many countries, we have seen little roadside stands with soft drink bottles filled with petrol. As a novice, he played it safe and went to the service station instead.

Unless oil prices have skyrocketed since we last bought fuel at home, the price for less than 5L of fuel should not be 250,000 rupiahs (about AUD $25).

It seems that the service station attendant decided to test David’s currency conversion skills…and found that he wasn’t as attentive as usual.

We learn these lessons in life as travellers!

Thankfully, David acted on the advice about the raincoats. When he picked me up from yoga this evening, it started to rain.

The damp side of riding a scooter

In tropical locations, it does not just shower lightly. The rain comes full and fast and generally continues for several hours.

We pulled over amongst the rice fields and donned our bright blue and green lightweight jackets. The little pack also included pants, but we just put on the jackets.

Fortunately, mine was large enough to keep my tote bag over my shoulder under the rain jacket, so it stayed dry, as did my top half. The bottom half and my yoga mat were fully soaked by the time we reached the main road.

Once you are wet, you are wet…so we continued until we got home and could dry off properly.

One bonus was that the locals tended not to ride in the rain, so the very wet road was quiet.

As I started writing this story, sitting upstairs in the restaurant area at West Break, the driest spot we could find to have dinner, a retired couple from Germany joined us.

Joy sitting at a table in a bamboo building typing on a phone with two hands.

Tropical downpours and laptops do not mix, so Joy wrote today’s #mydaily300 words on her phone instead while waiting for dinner to arrive. Captured by David Masefield

They are travelling around Bali on a motorbike for 2 months. It is his 40th time in Bali, and they love to travel by bike for the ease and flexibility it gives them.

He is also possibly the #1 German fan of Jimmy Barnes…but that is a story for another day!

Learning to ride a motorbike has never been on my bucket list, however, necessity is the mother of invention, so I think tomorrow might be the day I have a go at riding on my own…


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Joy Taylor

Joy Taylor

Joy has been working her way around the world with her kids, solo and with her partner for over 20 years. Her motto is ‘travel cheap, travel deep’. She built a green house and tries to live a green life. 35/196


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