A collection of short stories, essays, blog-posts and photographs from Ubud, Bali.

The Ubud Handbook « It's Silly Season Again

Mural by an anonymous street-artist of a crashed, burned-out Honda 70 scooter on a wall near Badung market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia

Mural by an anonymous street-artist of a crashed, burned-out Honda 70 scooter on a wall near Badung market in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia.
Photograph © 2020 Ubud High.

I'M WAITING FOR a friend on Jalan Suweta in Central Ubud. Three young Scandinavian women are at the side of the road clinching a deal on their new scooter rentals. They mount, and look non-plussed as they hunt for the ignition. The rental lady demonstrates how to switch their motorbikes on.

It really doesn't bode well.

Two of them seem to get the hang of it and disappear into the main road. The third pauses at the junction with Jalan Raya, looks to the right and left, and forgets one crucial thing: if you give an automatic some gas and don't hold onto the brake with your left hand, your body flies backwards and your right hand turns up the throttle even more.

It's a G-force thing.

She tears into the traffic. She can't stop. She narrowly misses hitting a car head-on, swerves past a mum on a 'bike and slaloms across the road as she tries to stop the 90-kilo motorbike with her feet, duck-style. Before she hits anyone – it's a miracle she doesn't – she falls in a bad-sounding heap of bent metal and smashing plastic. A group of Balinese rush to pick her up before the cops see her.

She's almost crying – more out of shock and shame than injury.

But a small hole in the side of her leg starts to bleed, and keeps bleeding, and a widening pool of blood circles her right flip-flop before snaking its way into a dusty gutter. The rental lady has arrived on the scene after hearing the screams. She keeps looking at the tourist's leg, and then at her scrapped motorbike, and back at the tourist's leg.

If you want to kill yourself on Bali, jumping on a scooter with no experience is a tried-and-trusted method. If you've never ridden a motorbike before, don't do it here. If you don't hurt or kill yourself, some other innocent bystander may well be on the receiving end of your madness.

© 2020 John Storey.


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

Other Tales of Getting Around from The Ubud Handbook

The Other Side of the Coin

IBU KETUT'S LATE. She's normally at my house by 10 in the morning: I'm the second job of the day. After me, she'll spend another eight hours cooking in the kitchen of a five-star Ubud hotel to support her seven children.

It's a great life if you don't weaken.

She starts sweeping, and I notice she's limping. There's a spreading bruise and an angry graze running past her knee and onto her calf. She wants to carry on cleaning: I sit her down and ask her what happened.

She's shy; I press...

[ ... » Read on... » ]


Surviving Bali on a 'Bike

CHRISTINA IS A SAVVY 60-year-old American who's come to Ubud to set up nest. She's never ridden a motorbike before and has already fallen off twice in two weeks.

– "I've just learned how to turn left," she says, "without feeling as if I'm going to tip over..."

[ ... » Read on... » ]


© 2020 John Storey.

The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

The Last Word

Portrait of the Day

Portraits from Bali by Ubud High

© 2020 Ubud High.


The Ubud Handbook by John Storey

© 2020 John Storey. All rights reserved.


The Ubud Handbook

The Ubud Handbook

THE UBUD HANDBOOK ~ Your guide to living in Ubud and Bali in a nutshell.

Chapters & Extracts

The Ubud Handbook will be published as a paperback, iBook and e-book on November 11, 2020.

Feel free to enjoy 12 of the 42 chapters. Have fun, and keep reading.


Culture Bites

Cinema Paradiso


Religion Matters

An American Calonarang

The Tale of Ganesha the Globetrotter (Excerpt)


Getting Around

It's Silly Season Again

The Other Side of the Coin

Surviving Bali on a 'Bike


Personal Stories

Diary of a Market Girl


Food Talk

The King of Stink


Tourism & Self-Enrichment

Eat, Pray, Self-Love

The Land of Self-Healing and Snake Oil

From Ubud With Love


Holidays from the Jungle

The Heads of Trunyan

A Line in the Sand (Excerpt)


The Ubud Handbook

THE UBUD HANDBOOK ~ Your guide to living in Ubud and Bali in a nutshell.

THE UBUD HANDBOOK ~ Your guide to living in Ubud and Bali in a nutshell

And finally, the weather

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