Only a small number of things in life truly scare me now.
Moving across the world to live with people I don’t know? Exhilarating.
Hanging out 30m underwater, possibly with sharks? Bring it.
Riding on the back of a motorbike? Petrifying.
Driving my own? Ha! Never.
Except…in Bali, that’s the most common form of transport. And while driving a car isn’t impossible, it is nearly guaranteed to double your drive time. So, I put my big-girl pants on and sucked it up. No time like the present to face my largest fear. When in Rome, right?
Our first weekend here — NINE weeks ago now! –, two of the other newbies and I rented motorbikes for the month of August, received a mini-lesson on how to drive the thing, and took off.
It wasn’t pretty. My shoulders were up in my ears the whole time, I practically came to a complete stop around the corners because it was TERRIFYING, and sometimes I would panic and squeeze the break and accelerate simultaneously. Somehow, I made it to the beach in one piece, pleased with myself for not dying.
But I still needed to get myself home.
A shortcut exists here in Canggu, a winding brick road cutting through gorgeous rice paddies. It gets quite narrow at one particular point, and when a car drives on it, it feels teeny tiny.
Of course, when I drove on it that night — a mere three hours after I rented the damn thing –, a minivan passed by me at that narrowest of points. I felt like it was all up on my side of the road, but other bikes made it, so there’s a slight chance that I may have overreacted. I panicked, accelerated and braked at the same time, and drove right off the road into the rice field.
It happened in slow motion, and I saw myself going over the edge and jumped ship. A bunch of locals helped me lift the bike out of the mud, checked to make sure it was still working and that I was okay, and then they laughed at me. I had to sheepishly drive by the traffic I caused to back up, covered in mud.
Don’t worry, folks, I had nothing but a bruised ego. And, unfortunately, an even greater fear of that bike for days to come. I dreaded getting on it. Now, two months later, I am more competent and confident. I can zip around on the highway, weaving in and out of traffic, at a speed I would have thought impossible when I first crawled along. (Don’t worry, I always wear my helmet. Because literally YOLO.)
And that shortcut is now my favorite part of my commute. Watching the sun kiss the rice fields each morning is absolutely breath-taking. But more importantly, I know now that I can drive into a rice field, get a little shaken and muddy, and everything will be okay. At least it wasn’t a concrete wall.