Riding a motorcycle has always been one of those activities that I highly anticipate. Although during the ride itself, I am so anxious for it to be over. Afterwards I feel as though I have barely escaped the jaws of death or dismemberment. The only person that I have ever felt comfortable riding with was my dad. It’s not that he is the safest driver or knows all there is to know about riding a motorcycle; but more that most dads out there will do whatever it takes to make sure their little girls are out of harm’s way. My dad has always let me learn lessons on my own however, he has never intentionally let me get hurt. So I knew that with him, I was safe.
Indonesians seem to love their motor bikes and scooters. They get them where they need to go cheaply and quickly. Many tourists rent motor bikes over here for the exact same reasons. We’ve been putting off renting one simply because the traffic has been insane and I honestly don’t mind walking. Upon our arrival in Yogyakarta we realized in order to do the things we had planned, a scooter was necessary. Chase had driven a motorcycle before so he felt confident that he was up for the challenge. I was not so sure. It wasn’t that I was questioning his abilities or even the fact that he would keep me safe but was just a bit nervous concerning the craziness that surrounded us. He would be driving a scooter on the opposite side of the road, surrounded by hundreds of ‘crazy’ motorists, while I’m holding on for dear life and navigating us to our destination. It seemed to me that the odds were stacked against us.
I was in a state of terror during our first few minutes on the bike. Chase was learning that riding a scooter wasn’t as much like riding a motorcycle as he had originally thought and that right hand turns are much more difficult in Indonesia. I’m sure it didn’t help that I was clutching on to him for dear life. Thankfully, once we made it out of the congested city center, we both started feeling much better. The wind felt cool against my skin which was completely different than being covered in sweat during our long walks. I had fun helping Chase navigate our way through the countryside and seeing the sights from a different perspective. It didn’t take long for most of my worries to disappear and just enjoy the ride.
Everything seemed grand until we stopped at a light and I hear Chase say, “No. Not here. Not now.” We had run out of gas. The only option we had was to push our scooter until we could find a street vendor. These vendors are typically scattered along the roadside, selling fuel by the liter in Absolut Vodka bottles. Chase spotted a police station at the end of the road and headed towards it. As he began talking, more and more policemen came outside and everyone started speaking to him in Indonesian. All that kept running through my mind was the fact Chase didn’t have an international driver’s license and I was recalling every blog post I had read about how you would have to pay off the cops whatever amount they demanded whenever one was caught without their license. Luckily, what seemed like angry cops at first were just really friendly guys that were stoked to be able to help an American man. They approached so quickly because each one wanted to be THE person that helped us. After we worked through the language barrier they pointed us in the direction of some gas. They then proceeded to take several photos with us (at their request) and pushed our scooter towards the little store. After a few moments we were on the road again and the policemen were all standing outside waving goodbye.
The entire day was splendid! We stopped for snacks on the way back to the city and had a little picnic. It even rained on us on the route home but that didn’t dampen our spirits. We put on our big rain parkas, laughed an awful lot, and carried on about our trip. Chase was a superb driver and handled the traffic and stress of it all amazingly. He kept me safe and by the end of the night I wasn’t concerned in the least. I foresee many more scooter adventures in our future!