Things I learnt whilst driving a scooter in Asia

 

  1. Bugs will fly into your eyes, ears, and nose. Sometimes simultaneously. Employ the use of goggles, a visor, sunglasses during the day or I purchased fake glasses to drive with at night.
    My driving glasses
  2. Seemingly innocent things like dry leaves can really hurt when they fly into your face at speed. A butterfly’s wing can feel like someone has just bitch slapped you across the cheek.
  3. Don’t be embarrassed to ask where the indicators are and how the trunk opens, as it’s different on many types of scooters. It’s far more embarrassing when you assume you know but then you have to go to a gas station and the attendant is watching you fumble around trying to figure it out.IMG_0725
  4. Speeding on gravel or dirt tracks is not a good idea, especially if it involves turning corners.
  5. Check you breaks work first before driving off from the rental shop. You don’t want to park on a steep hill and realise as you’re cutting your engine that you can’t stop the bike from rolling backwards, toppling over and falling on you.
  6. If you hit a pothole or rock at speed it is perfectly possible that it will jolt the bike and inadvertently cause you to squeeze the accelerator. Very fun on a hill. Said no one ever.IMG_8041
  7. Beeping is different here. It often means “I’m overtaking you, do NOT swing out into the road or I will plough into you” or “I’m going very fast because I have shit to do and I’m not stopping for you or anybody else so stay out my damn way”. Sometimes I cannot ascertain the reason and people just seem to be doing it for shits and giggles.
  8. If you’re driving on rural roads, fill up on gas whenever possible, don’t wait “until later” in case there isn’t one and you run out of gas and have to coast down, oh say, a mountain.IMG_7987
  9. That’s actually applicable anywhere, because what you definitely don’t want to do is run out of gas turning into a junction, and have to push your bike down a one-way highway packed with dense traffic to get to the nearest gas station.
  10. Driving in mud is hard. Try not to put your feet down even if you feel unstable because it would really suck if your flip flop got caught in said mud and you had to sheepishly stop your bike and wade through the foul-smelling slop to retrieve it whilst the locals all stop to laugh at you.
  11. Don’t wear dresses on a bike, or if you do, tuck them under/over/inside something unless your prerogative is for everyone to see your bum.
  12. Do as the locals do. In polluted, busy cities you will really appreciate the dorky gas mask that you bought. When you are out on the open road in 40 degrees with the sun beating down on you relentlessly, you will love that driving hoodie from the local market which protects your arms from a hellish sunburn.IMG_1326
  13. Don’t put important stuff, like electricals or food in your boot for long periods of time. The food will melt or go stinky, rank and soggy and your iPhone might come up with an “overheat warning”.
  14. If you’re doing long journeys get a cushion or a pillow or a hoodie or anything to lessen the blow that your poor bum cheeks are about to suffer.
  15. If you’re driving around in short shorts then take a towel, t-shirt or hoodie around with you to place on the seat because if you park that bad boy in the sun for even a few minutes and then sit on it, it’s gonna be hotter than the Devil’s armpit and you will instantly regret the moment you were born when your skin is sizzling on that molten plastic.
  16. Driving in the rain really sucks. It’s like a thousand needles stinging your skin, like a demonic crow pecking at your eyeballs, and regardless of whether you have glasses or a visor, you will be able to see fuck all. When Asia does a rain storm, it doesn’t do half measures. You’re better off running for cover and waiting it out.

Check out my vlogs here for my driving adventures across Vietnam.

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Freelance writer who loves reading, cooking & travelling. Rarely spotted without red lipstick. Penchant for whiskey on the rocks.

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