Unique Transportation: Ode to the Scooter

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“Rent a scooter! You’ll love it, it’s so much fun!” wrote my friend Sherry when I was in Saigon; an old haunt of hers. She had written a few years prior about the harrowing experience of buying a scooter and then integrating with the teems of scooters and other two-wheeled beasts dominating the chaotic streets of Vietnam.

I could barely cross the street while I was there, so there was no way I was going to rent a scooter.

Grenada by scooter - this is the best way to get around the Caribbean Island of Grenada! Here's why, with a video tour. #Grenada #Caribbean #Scooter #roadtrip #driving #TheProfessionalHobo

This post was originally published in 2013. It has since been updated for accuracy of links and content.

Chaotic Scooter-riding in Saigon

So instead, I indulged in a culinary tour of Saigon – on the back of somebody else’s scooter, and between the amazing street food and the joy of riding, it was one of the highlights of all my travels thus far.

I made this teensy little video from my spot on the back of the bike; I think you’ll agree that the streets of Saigon are not great for beginners!

Fast Forward…to Grenada

Buses and Scooters in Grenada

Although I love riding the buses in Grenada, it’s not the most ideal way to get around. Hours and days of operation are restricted, and although each fare is relatively cheap, it adds up when you have to take multiple buses each way to reach your destination.

So…I bought a scooter.

And I must say, a scooter is one of the best ways to live in and experience Grenada.

Ode to the Scooter

Oh scooter!

You help me feel the breeze on a hot day instead of getting into a steamy car and sweating miserably.

You allow me to interact with my environment much more; enjoying the sights, smelling the smells, and hearing the reggae blaring from roadside rum shops.

I can park you anywhere.

You cost about $5 to fill (1 gallon), and a tank lasts over 100kms.

Brand new, you cost less than half what I’d pay for a crappy used car.

You take up very little room on the roads, which is good because the roads are only little to begin with.

Traffic jams? Rush hour? Pshaw! You scoot around traffic without losing a beat.

I will admit…

Handling speed bumps is not one of your virtues. But you only have little wheels, so I forgive you. And I can still get over the bumps faster than cars.

And at night, Grenada’s many pot holes and dogs like to jump out at you, dear scooter, which can be a very precarious thing.

Rain isn’t very much fun for you or me either, but thank goodness most rain is isolated and doesn’t last long.

And a friend of mine who prefers motorcycles, calls you, dear scooter, “$2,000 worth of hair dryer on wheels”.

Don’t listen to them. You’re so much more than a hair dryer (even a very good hair dryer).

And all that is wrong becomes so right when I lean around corners, take in the lush roadside foliage, and zoom, zoom, zoom.

Oh yeah, and…

You make me feel cool.

(literally and figuratively).

Seeing Grenada from a Scooter

Would you like a tour of Grenada by scooter? Take the driver’s seat with this ride on various back roads, into town and through the capital of St. George’s, up to Concord waterfall, down to the beach, and around to the east coast. Throw in a few pit-stops at rum shops (with new friends made every time, despite the fact that I don’t drink rum), and all in all it makes for a perfect day (or few days rather, as it was shot over the course of a week).

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

Other Grenada Adventures:

Random Observations About Grenada Island

The Art of Liming: Grenada’s Unofficial Pastime

My House has no Address, My Street no Name

How to Take a Bus in Grenada

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21 thoughts on “Unique Transportation: Ode to the Scooter”

  1. Sounds like you did Saigon very right, I’m sure driving (or avoiding!) a scooter in Saigon is an experience many travelers will not lightly forget. Lovely city though.

    I’ve driven a scooter in some (carefully selected) places in Vietnam and China and it can be great! So much freedom.

    I second your Ode to the Scooter. Everyone who has never ridden one: Go try!

    • Hey Nick – I’m thankful I used to ride a motorcycle, so many of the principles of riding – and riding in traffic – have are transferrable. I’d like to try riding in other countries too…but like you, I’ll select my opportunities.

  2. Having lived there for nearly a year, I can soooo relate to the nutso chaos that is Saigon traffic. Actually it’s rather like a beautiful “dance” with streams of motorbikes (apparently with the same innate instincts of fish or birds) flowing like silk – weaving to and fro ’round (utterly carefree) pedestrians, bicyclists and huge buses alike. It just w.o.r.k.s. And it’s quite amazing to be in the middle of it all.

    That said, I too wasn’t foolish enough to ever commandeer my own motorbike whilst in HCMC (hey, whizzing on the back of a xe om with my knee bare INCHES from the aforementioned buses lumbering by, was plenty adrenaline-pumping for me.) Nosireee. I waited til I moved up here to the cooool, greeen hill top haven of Dalat before I had the nerve to drive my own motorbike.

    P.S. Your videos are KILLING me Nora! Thanks to your “8 Countries, 20,000 Miles…” I just spent the last week of my life utterly BLEARY-EYED, cobbling together a similar video of my past year – moving from Seattle to a g-forsaken rice paddy here in Vietnam.

    Let’s just say – you owe me one, girl! 😉

    • Hey Dyanne – Somebody once referred to the scooter traffic in Vietnam as being a part of a school of fish. It looks chaotic from the outside, but everything just tends to move in harmony if you go with the flow.

      I look forward to seeing your video! 🙂

    • Scooters are great fun! But they’re not toys…a fall can be serious, and you need to know what you’re doing moving in and around traffic. I’m lucky to have experience as a motorcycle rider in Toronto – so I’m a very defensive rider. I believe riding like everything and everybody is out to kill you is the best way to stay alive! 🙂

  3. Boyfriend and I rented a scooter on our first first trip together to Corfu. Then we crashed and I had to be taken to a hospital.
    We rented a car on our enxt vacation 😀

    • Sofie – Oh no! Like I said above, scooters may look fun, but they’re serious machines. I lived (and drove) in Grenada for many months before having the courage to get a scooter!
      Hope you’re okay now…was it serious?

      • Yeah, our crash was really stupid. We’d been driving around all day just fine, but then we stopped to relax a bit on the beach and when we took off again the combination of our tiers that had melted a bit because of the heat + the heated asfalt made us slip in a turn. I wasn’t badly injured at all, but I had a cut at my ancle that needed stitches. So I was taken to the doctor by a crazy cab driver. The doctor told me I needed to go to some private hospital and called an ambulance (!). In the hospital only one person spoke English and I’m telling you, Greek is like Chinese to me.
        Anyways, they wanted to deinfect everything with something that’s called oxygen fluid and that hurts like hell and when they’d cleaned everything they put bandages on, but the kind that immediately gets stuck in your flesh.
        I wasn’t happy with the treatment at all. My boyfriend also had scrapes but his actually got better much quicker because he just left them open in the air with a bit of desinfectant on them.
        Never listen to hospital people…
        My scars now are actually bigger than his, when mine were treated!
        Now they’re not hideous oranything, but the ones on my knees still turn darker brown when I get a bit of sun and I had some serious amount of skin scraped off off my left hand.

        I was actually planning on doing a post on this adventure:D

        • Hey Sofie – I’m glad you’re okay, and at least you can get some bragging rights from your remaining war wounds! 🙂
          I must say – I’m used to riding a motorcycle with a helmet and full protective gear on; riding a scooter with no helmet or jacket reminds me how imperative it is to ride safely, even if I’m not going fast.
          I think your adventure would make an excellent post! 🙂

  4. Such a romantic poem. I appreciate your use of puns and other repetitive imagery. I’m sure mr. Scooter, whoever he may be, will one day read this and fall in love and lust immediately.


    In all seriousness, I appreciate this post. That picture of Saigon has definitely scared me off big city traffic, but I think I will hire a scooter in a smaller town like you did. It does seem like the most practical way to get around. And something you can’t get the opportunity to try out back home.. =)

    • Hi Olivia – This post has just become pretty ironic for me, as I was on the scooter last week and got in a head-on collision with a car (who was in the wrong and made the crash unavoidable). I’m recovering from a nastily concussed head wound and various body injuries that make mobility difficult. And my partner is in the hospital for 2 months – in traction.

      With this in hindsight, I’d feel irresponsible if I didn’t recommend that if you’re going to get a scooter in a foreign country, give yourself the best chance of staying upright and only do it if you’ve ridden a scooter/motorcycle before and can ride confidently and defensively. Although this crash was unavoidable, my riding experience has helped me stay safe more than a few times.

  5. Hey your travels make me so envious! I’m moving to Grenada in the summer for school and was interested in purchasing a scooter. I saw in your post that you bought one but I can’t seem to find somewhere that sells them. And are they pretty expensive?

    • Hi Thanh – There are a few places to get scooters in Grenada; one of the main places is Hubbards, in Mt Gay. I believe the price is around $6,000EC dollars (about $2,000US).
      But you can also get scooters (at varying prices and conditions) at some of the lots closer to Grand Anse where you’ll probably be living. Ask around once you’re here; it won’t take you long!
      And please…..be safe.

  6. Nora! I am so sorry to hear of your injuries and that of your partner, too. 2 months in traction, oh, man! But better than forever in the grave, yes? I love scooters but as you say, they are not toys, and have limitations. You are always at risk because car drivers often don’t see you as easily as they do other cars. And scooters tend to allow you to do things cars can’t and this is not always safe for you in traffic. An insurance agent once told me, David, do you know what the statistical chances of being in an accident on a motorcycle or scooter? 100% Meaning, you will dump it over on the road or go off the road unintentionally to avoid an accident and then tip over, etc.; and helmets are a no brainer even in countries where they are not required like Hawaii … I hope you will recover soon and wonder if you will get another scooter? It would be understandable if you felt shy about it for awhile. Economically, you can’t beat it for easy transportation but even if you are very safety conscious as I am sure you are, you can never be sure of how trustworthy other people are on the roadways. It is amazing how much trust we have in other people on the roads and for the most part, that it seems to work …

    • Thanks David! My partner is recovering very well, and you are right – better the hospital than the grave. We are both very lucky.
      Indeed….in the weeks preceding the accident I had been thinking about what it would be to drop the scooter, but rested on my riding experience (I have many years of riding motorcycles in my repertoire), and defensive driving skills.
      But like you say, there’s no accounting for other drivers sometimes – which is exactly what happened. This other driver was on the phone, didn’t signal, and came into our lane and hit us head-on with no time to react or evade.

      I don’t necessarily feel shy about riding again, but practically speaking a scooter no longer makes sense with my own injuries and especially those of my partner. So we’ll be getting a car! 🙂

  7. Nora! Small cars make sense in areas where there are sudden weather changes, too. You can carry more stuff, and smaller cars are economical compared to larger ones. You can’t beat the mileage a scooter gives you, though – even if it has more cc’s and can keep up with traffic it is easier on gas than any car. Scooters are heavier than people imagine, and falling with one is not a fun thing to do – better to leave it entirely than go down with it; much like a motorcycle in that respect. It can hurt you if it hits you before it stops moving! I hope you will fully recover from you injuries (younger people always bounce back faster) and that you will count yourself lucky that in all of your worldwide travels you have not had any serious accidents until now. What do they say? Most vehicle accidents occur within a few miles of home? I wonder if this was true for you? In any case, I hope you and your friend will both recover completely, and count your lucky stars this was not worse for either of you – permanent brain injuries, for example. I had a couple of rough airline flights in a row and you know, I didn’t fly for several years; emotionally, I thought I was not gonna tempt fate, after that … but this year I have flown twice and am still breathing, so it was just a natural kind of fear that develops after a traumatic event – and I hope you will find that hurdle is one you get over, too …


    • Thanks for your kind advice and empathy, David – indeed there’s something to be said for getting back up on the horse (or airplane, or scooter, or car)! And yes….ever grateful that it wasn’t worse.


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