And so this girl’s own adventure has come to an end.
I am back in my own land of Australia, reflecting on the week that has been. It will probably take some time to digest all that I saw and experienced, but I do feel a little different in myself.
Something like a letting go, of what I am still not completely sure.
There are so many little things that I will always carry with me from this sojourn in Ubud. And I’ll be honest, some moments were pretty tough on this old girl.
Sunday was a particularly hard day for me, but there some unexpected and delightful memories made too. More on those later.
But the day kind of went a bit south when I – against my better judgement – hired a scooter. Despite my trepidation and my inner voice telling me to do otherwise, I got on that bloody Vespa and made my way into the centre of Ubud.
For ten minutes I had the wind on my face and a grin from ear to ear. Maybe I’ll get one of these back home, I thought. What was I so worried about? Wheeee!!!
But my born to be wild moment came to a crashing halt almost as soon as I hit town, and I fell off that goddamned scooter making a fairly simple right-hand turn. Luckily, I only scraped my ankle and elbow and picked up a few killer bruises on my legs.
It could have been so much worse.
I will never forget the kindness of the men who got me to my feet, and told me to just rest, get over the shock. “Just take a seat here – ohh look at your foot, your arm…here, sit here.”
They discussed what the problem with the bike was – they agreed it was the brakes. To a degree I thought it was the brakes too – I hit them too hard turning the corner and the bike slid out and turned on its side.
I asked one of the men, a taxi driver, where I could get bandages. ‘Yes, yes, across there.’ He took my helmet and ushered me across the road, telling me he’d look after the scooter.
When I returned, an older Australian couple asked me if I was okay. They had seen the whole thing. “We ride motorbikes in Australia, but we’ll never ride here,” they told me.
Yes, I thought. I wasn’t going to either. But I had seen so many travellers ride past me on my morning walks that I began to think perhaps I wasn’t being adventurous enough.
And now I had to dust myself off and get back on the damned thing. I was fucking terrified.
“Where you want to be going?” The Balinese man asked me. “To Senimen coffee,” I told him.
“Oh! It’s over there – do you want me to turn bike around for you to go in right direction?And so he turned the scooter around, and within moments I was off again, fearing for my life.
Sipping on an iced latte at Senimen, I was surrounded by a raft of sun-kissed tourists. My nerves started to take over. I felt like shit, like a fool. I had put myself in a potentially life-threatening situation and for what?
What makes us throw caution to the wind in foreign places, and decide we can do as the locals do? We seek out food joints and hipster coffee bars that remind of us home, and yet when it comes to the stuff that requires a lifetime of learned experience – like driving – we stick to the adage ‘When in Rome’.
In the days following, I saw westerners on scooters wearing no helmets, some with their babies strapped to them or young kids riding in front, smiling and laughing as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Perhaps for them it was.
I guess at any age we seek to push the boundaries a little and find out what our limits are. With a slightly bruised ego and very bruised body, I realised very quickly that I am more of a four-door kind of girl.
And I’m okay with that.