For many travelers, Bali is the unique island of the Gods, or the island of thousand temples. These are just two of the nicknames, given to Bali by clever tourism marketing people.
That sounds mysterious and exciting. And for many tourists it is enough to visit several temples, to admire the exotic charm of another world from the outside,
and possibly enjoy some cheap massages in a spa. On my first visit to Bali that’s been enough for me also. But I was infected at the same time. A virus had overwhelmed me. A virus called Bali. Since those times I have been to Bali very often, have made many friends and experienced the “real”, the original Bali. The Bali beyond the illusory tourism-world.
For several years I stayed, whenever I have been to Bali, with my Balinese adoptive family. I shared their everyday live. So I got very deep insights into the culture of the island. And then it happened, that I met the Balinese Vespas.
Amazingly, there is a very interesting Vespa scene in Indonesia. This is because in Java until the year 2001 Vespas were produced. The old scooters are now often taken over by “young guns” to prepare them. There are three fractions. The first tries to restore Vespas faithfully. In this scene, you can meet real beautyful scooters.
There are also two other types of “scooterists”: extreme and gembel. The “extreme” change their Vespas often so, that you wouldn’t imagine that there is still a vespa-engine in the heart of the newly formed vehicle. There is a range from “choppers” to a variety of trikes and even small cars.
The “Gembels” (the Indonesian word ‘gembel’ = very poor, ragged, torn down), however, attach utmost importance to their Vespas just ragged, torn, rusted and almost like a moving pile of garbage come along. There are holes cut into the bodies and everything is omitted, which is not absolutely necessary. Often have Gembel Vespas sidecars in the form of a platform with a bamboo roof, sometimes even the classic sidecar-form as permeable grid structure made of tubes welded together.
All this is possible because a vehicle inspection by authorities is not performed. As long as there are papers in which the chassis number and engine number are shown correctly, you can unscrew the license plate of the “former” Vespa, simply put it on the redesigned vehicle – and no one complains… Common to all scooteristsin Indonesia is, that they are organized in clubs where close cohesion is practiced. And of course there are plenty of shared tours. Highlights are as in Europe, the big Vespa meetings.