Friday, January 24th - 12:30PM
Back at our room now waiting for the rain to let up, and enjoying some more time creating art and writing. We got up pretty early this morning to beat the breakfast rush at the hotel's buffet, and it was worth it to not be bumping elbows with people while trying to choose what to eat. I still can't get over how delicious the coffee is here. I'd thought PNG coffee was pretty good before, but this is even better.
After breakfast we walked up the road a bit looking for a place that rented motorbikes. We eyed up a few places before settling on one, and went inside to talk to the Balinese man who was renting them. It took about 2 minutes and $6 to get one rented for 24 hours. No long forms to fill out, no declining additional insurance, no check of driver's license or giving a credit card for a deposit. Just my first name, hotel and room number, and Indonesian cell phone number, and a bit of cash got us out the door.
We drove back towards our hotel and found a little out-of-the-way street to let Naomi practice on. We hadn't decided if we were just going to get one, or each ride our own yet. The bikes here are little fully automatic 100cc scooters, and super easy to drive. A bit different from the bikes I've owned in the past, but perfect for the roads and traffic here. No need to be able to do 80mph when traffic and road conditions won't let you get past 30.
She decided she was at least comfortable to give it a shot on her own (Naomi: I did, after all, learn to drive in Indonesia as a teenager), so we drove back to the side of the road where we'd rented the first one and got her signed up. Until that point I hadn't bothered to check the gas gage on mine, assuming (foolishly) that it would come full or at least partly full. Wrong. It was pegged on the empty side of the gage, which in hindsight I should've anticipated. Luckily the toko right near the rental place had a couple dozen one-liter Absolut vodka bottles full of gas for 7000 rupiah each (1 USD is about 12,000 rupiah... you do the math) so we bought one for each of the bikes and they poured them right in with a funnel. There's little places like that all over selling gas, so we should be fine. Sentani had two gas stations, but I haven't actually seen one here yet.
We drove all over Kuta for the next 45 minutes, letting Naomi get used to riding a bike again, and driving in traffic here. If I hadn't mentioned it already, it's absolutely insane driving here. And fun! There's almost no road rules at all. Traffic generally tends to drive on the left side of the road, unless you feel you have a good reason for being on the other side, in which case that's cool too. If you want to pass someone, feel free to do it on the left side, or the right side (in a single lane). If you're not sure they see you, just give a quick honk on the horn. Blinkers are completely optional. Four bikes side-by-side in a lane isn't out of the ordinary. If traffic is slow and you don't want to wait, the sidewalk is a legitimate alternative to the road if you can avoid the pedestrians. The shoulder isn't so much a shoulder as it is a two-wide motorcycle lane. Want to park your car for a minute to run in and buy a soda? Just do it right in the lane. People will move around you without a fuss. All this, and I've yet to see an accident or even a real near-miss. Everyone is just used to it, and it seems to work just as well as all the road rules in other countries do.
After getting pretty lost for a bit, and not really caring, we made our way back to a road that looked familiar, and stopped at a larger local store for some necessities... more conditioner for Naomi, a mosquito coil for our patio here, and some snacks both for here and to send back to family at home. It was pouring down rain when we got back out, but the scooter has a storage area under the seat, so we loaded up and got a bit wet making it back home. No harm done.
Now we're here just relaxing and waiting for the sunshine again so we can go do some more exploring. What a great vacation filled with all sorts of new adventures!
Indonesia Trip Days