Driving around Bali on a scooter was great, and cheap. In two weeks I visited a few places on my own, free from the bubble of a car-and-driver.
There’s so much more to see on Bali. But for my second month in Indonesia I wanted to visit different parts of this gigantic country.
My original plan was to take buses West from Bali across Java to Jakarta. There’s certainly a lot of great sites to see there. But I had more fun in the Philippines riding a motorbike on my own than riding buses. I didn’t want to go back to buses here.
When I heard it was possible to easily ride a motorbike onto ferries to visit different islands, I was intrigued. When I heard about the Eastern route from Bali, I was hooked, and knew I had to do it.
Going West is the popular route. Java is where all the famous sites are. Few tourists venture East. It’s possible to ride all the way to Alor, at the end of the archipelago, or even Timor. But I’d have to ride back, so I settled on the three multicolored volcanic lakes of Kelimutu as my goal.
I don’t like to book in advance, in order to preserve flexibility. But I like to have a plan. A little research showed there’s only one road to follow, and there are clear places to stop when going East from Bali. So I put together an itinerary.
- Sumbawa Besar – I’d drive across Lombok without stopping on the way out. Sumbawa Besar is the capital of the island of Sumbawa. It, and the entire island, are not a tourist destination. There are no big sites to see. I was looking forward to observing how locals lived off the tourist path.
- Bima – another city on Sumbawa with no tourist attractions. I didn’t see that as a negative.
- Labuan Bajo – A port town on the Catholic island of Flores. There is a nascent tourist industry there for diving and boat trips to Komodo National Park, so I’d be encountering some bule.
- Komodo National Park – A boat trip to these islands, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a big goal of mine on this trip.
- Ruteng – I’d be leaving the tourist trail again, driving across the lush island of Flores to Ruteng, a town without major attractions.
- Bajawa – It’s possible to visit traditional villages from this town.
- Moni – A tiny strip of guesthouses that is the jumping-off point to Kelimutu. I’d have to turn back after this.
- Wae Rebo – I really wanted to spend the night in this remote traditional village, which isn’t in Google Maps, or any other map. Getting there was quite an adventure!
- Lombok – I’d save Lombok for the end of my trip. I was hoping to climb the volcano here, but I didn’t have the energy. Instead I spent a couple days in the beach town of Kuta, Lombok.
Making The Plan Possible
A problem is that the bikes available for rent in Kuta, scooters only, are in poor repair. If you tell the shifty touts who hawk bikes, along with illicit drugs and prostitutes, that you want to take the bike off Bali, they say it’s not possible. I think you could just not tell them, because all you need is the original bike registration papers. Then you could pay a mechanic to change the oil, tubes, breaks, and buy your own tools.
Finally, you’d have to figure out a way to secure your bag to the bike. While riding around Bali, I learned you cannot wear a backpack on a motorbike. The shoulder pain makes driving miserable.
Instead of giving the dodgy guys my business, I contacted Kris of Motor Adventure Bali. He made everything easy by providing a scooter in a good state of repair, as well as all the tools I could possibly need, including a spare gas tank (which I didn’t need). His business is motorbike adventures across Indonesia, so he didn’t have a problem with me leaving Bali.
Kris’ scooters come equipped with actual luggage racks and straps, not the jury-rigged contraptions you see in Indonesia. I could firmly secure my bag to the rack, which meant I could refuel without having to unstrap the bag.
The trip took me three weeks and was incredible. It was probably the best travel I ever did. But I won’t say more now. Stay tuned for more installments of the Motorscooter Diaries to read about this amazing adventure!
I didn’t receive any compensation for plugging Motor Adventure Bali. Kris just made everything so easy that I recommend him for anyone contemplating a trip like this.