Thrilling to rent a bike, I've never ridden

by Kshitij Agrawal (India)

A decision that pushed me to the edge Vietnam


Never having ridden a motorcycle before, it seemed like a thrilling fantasy to rent one for a day. I could never have predicted the horrid yet heartening events I was to face, as I almost lost my life before witnessing the humility of unknown people in Vietnam. Renting bikes did not require a license in Da Lat. At 9am, I stormed down the stairs and sped outside. My smirk radiating confidence out of having no idea what's to come. Lyn received me with a smile. But when I said, “I've never ridden before” it turned into trauma. So a brief tutorial began. Starting up switching gears, we went onto inclined streets. No control for me, anxiety for her. Our bumps, sharp turns, and ascents, we finished in 20 minutes. “It's a bad idea entrusting you this scooter”. “I can't argue”. The day began. Sunlight glistened on the empty street. I was glad the helmet had no front glass, as the chilled lake breeze made the forehead sweat disappear. I'd halt to check navigation, struggle with acceleration at sharp turns, get ankle jerks trying to brake with my feet. The rains began to pour down mercilessly next. A slippery highway with drops bombarding my eyes, turned out a disaster. A gulp of uncertainty passed as I began to wonder if this was another bad decision. I eventually stopped by closed shops, where a stranger helped me drag my scooter under a roof. A disappointed me was comforted as he stood there and shared his patience. After a while, I was able to cover glorious Pagodas, waterfalls, museums. I stood by Buddha statues, incense odour, and calm monks, as the vibe tried to comfort me. However, my mind was on the fence between the thrill of the scooter ride, and the the potential risk I had taken over-confidently. Riding back on a national highway now, eyes steady on the road, the mirror reflected a truck moving with fierce momentum. In a split second, as a turn was coming up I skid and slipped over to the side of the road. Almost. The heavy scooter on my leg as I fell, I spazzed just in time to avoid being run over by the truck. A candid Bollywood moment. Towards the end of the day, riding back to town, I did manage to gain some control. Too soon to learn but there was not much anxiety anymore. Perhaps I had accepted the need for a risky leap to achieve the brilliant experience riding.