Bali Stories: Scooters

About a year ago, in Spring 2011 i went to Bali for a few weeks.

One of the first things you notice after finally getting out the airport in Bali is the traffic. It’s fuckin gnarballs.  Most people in Bali can’t afford cars. Almost everyone gets around via scooters or motorcycles. You can maneuver around in traffic easily on a scooter which is crucial. At each stop light, every inch of space will get filled by a scooter, sometimes with a family of 5. People drive up on sidewalks, medians, whatever to get where their going. It’s an aggressive, sketchy, every man for himself mode of travel. It’s awesome!

With Kuta as a home base, most of the spots that you’d surf are a short scooter mission away. Anywhere from 5 minutes to an hour depending on where you want to go. A few of the spots we’d go to were 30 mins away, which by Bali standards is fairly far. With all that extra effort of a whole 30 mins of pre-surf scooter action we were rewarded with mellow lineups.

The farther away from Kuta or any major road you go the traffic gets progressively less gnarly but the roads get progressively gnarlier. And by gnarlier i mean huge potholes, cracks, debris, burning trash, dogs, babies, ceremony foot traffic, etc.


One day after surf we were coming home from a spot that was a good 45 mins away. We’d been scoring here for weeks.  My friend was a head of me by about 50 yards. As i came around a curve in the road i saw him layed out on the ground with his bike on top of him.

Mildly panicked I pulled over and yanked his bike off. Dude was completely out of it and bleeding out of his elbow that he was holding with his other arm. A few of the locals came out to help and we picked him up and hauled him off to the side of the road and sat him down.

Once we got his helmet off i noticed he was white as a ghost. Like what tan people look like when they put sunblock on their faces. So creepy. Then he keeled over and passed out–just collapsed. At this point i got a really good look at his arm that he’d grated across the pavement. So fucking gross i almost passed out too.


One of our other friends spoke Balinese so he was able to figure out that a “hospital” was 1km away and arrange a ride. Took him in and he got all cleaned up, disinfected, sent home with some pills. Think in all it cost like 12 dollars.


Luckily he fell on the left side and had the board between him and the ground or it would’a been a lot worse.

Here’s an interesting article on driving scooters in Bali.

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