Our favourite family adventure days are often the most unexpected which was certainly true of our day spent exploring rural Bali by riding mopeds with kids!

Expect the unexpected

Never in all my wildest dreams would I have seen myself speeding through rice fields on the back of a moped. I’ve never been comfortable on anything with 2 wheels. I have very little balance, and am therefore laughable on a bike, in fact I fell off twice while cycling in South Tyrol. For this reason I’ve never contemplated riding on a motorised bike of any kind, even as a passenger.

Mopeds are a popular form of transport in Bali and in fact all of Indonesia and Asia. It is easy to see why. It is incredible cheap (we filled our fuel tank for £2 / $2.20) and the roads are extremely narrow and bumpy making travel by car challenging.

However there is very little regard for safety you’ll often see entire families riding a small moped with no helmets and the items people often try to balance on their moped range from ambitious to ridiculous. You’ll also often see riders speeding down the wrong way on a duel carriageway and riding down pavements.

We’d seen our fair share of camicarse riding in Southern Italy and Thailand and on arriving in Bali it became quickly apparent that we couldn’t get anywhere without hiring a car and driver or using the mopeds provided by the Sahaja Sawah Resort where we were staying.

Like riding a bike (or not in my case)

Lee had ridden mopeds when he was a teenager and was happy to relive his youth and give the scooby scooters a go. He went up and down the road in front of the resort under the guidance of Putu one of the resort staff.

He was soon venturing further a field and visiting the local markets for supplies when needed. On his first trip he went out for 2 hours and returned with 6 eggs but that’s a story for another time!

Mopeds with kids

After nearly a week I was itching to leave the resort and explore so I decided to try a moped. I drove off down the road like Bambi on ice and although I marginally improved with each lap there was no way I’d trust myself to ride mopeds with kids. Lee wasn’t happy to have both kids with him either so we resigned ourselves to needing to book a car to explore.

Then Putu suggested that he ride with Zach and I as passengers and Lee could take Anabelle. Zach stood in front of the seat holding onto the middle of the handle bars and with Putu’s arms either side of him. I rode on the back and Anabelle rode on the back with Lee.

Putu was aware we nervous about the situation and was a very thoughtful and sensitive chauffeur. He rode slowly and carefully with regular stops to check everyone was OK and comfortable.

Close to nature

We set off to see the local mountains and waterfalls with Putu explaining every inch of the countryside he has spent his entire life in.

There was so much wildlife we encountered on our journey from lizards, snakes, deer, cows, chickens, ducks, herons and dogs plus a rich landscape filled with lush vegetation such as green beans, corn, watermelon, rice, coffee, herbs, bananas and coconuts. It was sensory overwhelm and difficult to take in all at once there was just so much to see!

Up in the mountain the air was cooler and we stopped at two waterfalls but didn’t brave the water this time. On the way back we cut through the jungle, the road disappeared to a single grass track on which we had to get off and push the bikes.
Back on the road again we also stopped at a little cafe to enjoy a well deserved ice cream and watch a local martial arts competition.

What if

When we returned to the resort newly arrived guests were waiting to use the mopeds. Within a matter of hours we learned that just a few feet from the resort one of these guests came off his moped and broke his leg in two places!

After our exhilerating adventure this was sobering news. I’ve often looked back at this day and wondered should we have ridden the mopeds with kids?  The man who was injured was an experience rider and came off just a few feet from the hotel on the same day! What if this was us? What if one of the kids had been hurt.

During our travels I’ve learned you can tie yourself up in ‘what if’s’. Stomboli volcano recently erupted right where we had enjoyed an amazing volcano night tour. The terrorist attacks in Nice took place exactly where we were walking 1 week earlier. If we listened to our doubts and fears we’d never do anything.

Travel certainly makes you braver and it makes you grab opportunities with both hands but you always need to understand it is a calculated risk. Had Lee never ridden before I wouldn’t have let him taken Anabelle on the back. Had Zachary been any younger than 6 I doubt we’d have put him on the bike at all. If we had to go on main roads or if there were no helmets both of these would have been deal breakers.

Did we take a risk? Yes, but we all had an incredible day that just wouldn’t have been the same in a car. Putu was an amazing guide that gave us a true, off the beaten track adventure.

Safety First

While you can’t predict an accident or natural disaster you can be prepared.

  • Never skip fully comprehensive travel insurance and check the fine print of what is covered.
  • When riding mopeds always make sure you have a good quality helmet.
  • Ensure the bike is in good working order, know your route and ideally have a guide who knows the roads.
  • Make sure you have your phones with you and that they are fully charged.
  • Carry a first aid kit and know basic first aid

Have you ridden a moped abroad? Have you taken ridden mopeds with kids? I’d love to hear more, please leave me a comment below.


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