Indonesia, Life in Asia

#5 Mastering Two Wheels – Top 15 of 2015

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When we visited Asia last year, I knew I would have to learn how to drive a motorbike. Everyone in Asia gets around on two wheels! Singles, couples, families with kids, families with pets…all on motorbikes. Last year, I let my husband drive the whole time, and I never even attempted it. I was scared. I remember how embarrassingly long it took me ride a bike without training wheels. And I wasn’t ever really a “bike kid”. I had flashback insecurity fears of trying to not fall down. Add that to driving on the other side of the road in traffic, and I was more than hesitant. But I also knew that if I wanted to ever get myself around, I’d have to learn.

So while we were still in America, we took a motorcycle driving certification course. I don’t think we were the target audience for this course. The instructor wheeled out the learning bikes, and I almost left right then. A 250cc bike with a manual transmission. That’s twice as big as the bikes we’d be getting in Asia, and I can’t even drive a manual car! I was dreading this course more and more. The instructor was a good one, and little by little, I actually began to drive the thing. He told me I could switch to a scooter and still pass, but he challenged me to stick with the “big bike”. [Every American biker is laughing at the fact I just called a 250cc a big bike. My cousin, for example, drives a 600cc bike. I can’t even.] And I did. And I passed. Such sweet accomplishment.

When we moved to Asia, I still let my husband drive most of the time. But I slowly starting attempting to learn. I had much more confidence and knew I could learn. Eventually, I started renting a bike of my own, and that’s when I realized how much I enjoyed the independence of my own bike. I was so used to life in America, with my car and being able to go wherever I wanted whenever I wanted. I hadn’t been able to do that here yet. But now I was tasting that, and I wanted more. Around my birthday, we decided to buy a second motorbike with leftover money from our car sales. So I became a proud owner of my very own motorbike.

I’m still learning the rhythms and flow of traffic here. Motorbikes rule the road, and can weave in and out of anything. We can pass on the left and the right and drive into other lanes of traffic to do it. We can run lights. Sometimes, it’s safer to pull out in front of a bus than another bike. So much of driving here can’t be taught, but observed and felt. I’m slowly driving more and more, further and further. It’s been a fun life accomplishment to tackle, and I’m so glad I didn’t let fear keep me home!!

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