When heading into any foreign country; someplace unfamiliar and at first a little strange it’s important to remember that how you portray yourself and how you act is easily recognized by other travellers and locals alike. If you’re the person with a 16-Kilo backpack strapped to your back, frantically flipping through Lonely Planet’s “SE Asia on a Shoestring”, then you’re clearly a target for scams, and just general hassle. However, if you look up the directions to your hostel in advance, walk in a distinct direction (even if you’re not sure), and keep your head high, it’s amazing how much it can affect how others perceive you.
I rented a scooter a couple days ago in Kuta Beach, Bali, Indonesia. Now I’ve driven a Moped in Europe for about 2-minutes, and I’ve driven a dirt bike for about 20-minutes, so naturally I don’t have a clue what I’m doing. There’s no practice track, unmarked roads, or easy side streets. There’s only the main road littered with vehicles, scooters weaving in-and-out of traffic and squeezing in any space available – it’s this, or windy side streets with surprise potholes every 50ft. I paid my $20 for the week, strapped my helmet on, Rose jumped on the back, and off we flew down a crowded side street, I narrowly hit 2 British ladies, dodged a garbage truck and squeal to a halt at the junction – perfect. The learning curve was exponential, I mean you don’t have much choice, but after about 5-minutes you too are upset at the slow car in front of you and opt for the 1m gap between traffic to pass them. After about an hour you feel like a local, and likely drive like one. Point being is that once I became confident (whether or not I’d actually improved my skill) I was able to grow exponentially as a driver, and actually feel a lot safer on the road.
You know who you are, and you know that you’re happy to be in this place, the fact that you’ve finally made it happen should instill enough confidence in you to keep a bold stride, and a steady hand.