Monday, August 17, 2009

Driving in Bali

Wow, I just realized that I have so many posts in my head that I need to start getting them down. I realized just now that I had so many posts that I had planned in my head while I was still in Bali, but since coming home I only posted some photos and I haven't written a thing.

I must say, Bali was definitely my favorite vacation so far, of all my travels. It's such an amazing little island with so much culture. The people are so friendly. While I expected them to be pushy like in Vietnam, always trying to get your money, but usually when you said no to whatever they were selling, they just moved on to the next person.

I thought I should mention driving in Bali. The first difference is that they drive on the opposite side of the road, like British style. Our most interesting experiences driving were on the tiny island of Nusa Lembongan. It took an hour boat ride to get out here to this tiny developing island. We had been told that there were no cars on the island, but it's something you can't truly believe until you see it for yourself. They did have a few trucks on the island (I really doubt more than 20 or 30 on the whole island) and everyone else road motorbikes. If there hadn't been a huge hill on the island separating the only two villages on the island, I bet people would have gone around on bikes, since it is small enough.

On our first full day on the island, we realized that we weren't going to see much of the island on foot. In the hot (but dry) temperatures, walking long distances was a bit uncomfortable, but the beach where our hotel was located was really a beach for boats, not swimming. It was very shallow and there was a breaker out in the water so there were no waves. To get to the other beaches, we broke down and started to learn to ride motor scooters. I was fortunate enough to go out with my friend's husband who is really into motorbikes/motorcycles before anyone else in our crew, and got a real instruction on how to drive it. Most people were just given the bike and were told, "good luck". After riding a while with him, I was driving it myself with him on the back. Later that day, I even took another girl out who had rented her bike for the afternoon, but was too scared to ride it.

Though I was no amazing driver, driving on this island was easy, since there were so few people and literally no cars. The only two things I worried about were starting the motorbike, because I seemed to have a habit of accelerating too fast while the wheel was turned, and driving into the side of the road, and other tourists like me on their bikes. Obviously the locals know how to drive, since I noticed that they learn to ride when they are about 10 years old. But, there were so many other folks like me who were just starting to learn how to ride that it was a bit scary. Also, remembering which side of the road to stay on was a bit nerve racking too.

Fortunately, I survived with no accidents, and the only accident in our whole group of friends were some minor scrapes. We did see an Australian guy with a dislocated shoulder from falling off his bike. I was glad I was done riding after that and getting ready to leave the island, because I'm not sure if I would have wanted to ride again after seeing that nasty injury.

Going back and forth to the hotel, we were given a ride in the back of a truck. I took these videos of the roads while we were driving:

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