In the last year, I’ve found a new travel hobby: renting motorbikes and just cruising, seeing if there’s anything beyond the small radius that my walking feet can take me. It’s a liberating feeling to be able to literally go anywhere the wind takes me.
In Southeast Asia where renting a motorbike can be little as $3USD a day, it’s often one of the cheapest, easiest, and fastest ways to explore a greater amount of space in less time.
Despite the lax and confusing (or altogether nonexistent traffic laws, at least to the ignorant traveler), many don’t even think twice about hopping on and driving off into the great unknown. Even though renting a motorbike is now a common occurrence for me, it was a slow and cautious road I took before becoming fully comfortable with the idea that I was driving a vehicle I have never had any formal training to drive, on roads that I have no familiarity with, and more often than not, with road signs that I will never be able to decipher.
The first time I had ever tried driving a motorbike was plain stupid because I had never, ever even been on a motorbike before. This was when I traveled to Cancun with my friend Kristin in 2009. I was absolutely terrified, yet at the same time, overly concerned with taking photos of the beautiful scenery whizzing past me. I nearly killed myself and my friend (slight exaggeration) when I almost rear ended her in traffic trying to take a photo while driving. I cannot stress how completely irresponsible it was of me to do this, and it’s a miracle that no one ended up hurt.
Which leads to my main point: rent a motorbike and go exploring, feel the wind in your hair. It’s liberating and fun, something everyone should experience. But just don’t be stupid about it. I’ve met a number of travelers who have nasty scraps, bruises, and even oozing infections due to motorbike accidents caused by their own reckless behavior. And those are the lucky ones.
Rent a motorbike, but take all the safety precautions that you can: always wear a helmet, don’t drive recklessly, pay attention to the road, and never, EVER drink and drive! Your travel photographs and stories, not to mention your own life, depend on it.
Now get out there and go exploring!