Hiking up the steep slope as the sun rose above the clouds, the view was breathtaking.
I was heading to the top of a volcano, Mount Batur, in Bali.
It was July 2022 and my friend Katy, then 19, and I had been travelling for nine days together.
We had decided to book a spur of the moment trip to celebrate finishing my uni degree.
‘I’ve never left Australia,’ Katy commented.
‘Let’s go to Bali!’ I said.
I’d been on a family holiday to Bali 10 years earlier, and I remembered crazy traffic jams and wild driving.
And I’d heard all the horror stories about scooters.
‘Don’t get on the back of a moped,’ my mum, Honey, then 53, warned before Katy and I headed off on our trip.
But chatting with friends who’d recently visited Bali, they raved about a taxi-style scooter service.
‘You ride with a local. I felt super safe,’ a friend told me.
Who knows the streets better than the locals? I thought.
Plus my boyfriend Brody, then 21, and my dad, Phillip, then 63, rode bikes, and I was used to being on the back.
But my dad reminded me to get good travel insurance, just in case.
Now, Katy and I were having an amazing time exploring Bali.
'Don't get on the back of a moped.'
When we weren’t climbing volcanoes, walking through rice paddies, or swimming with manta rays, we were zipping from place to place on the back of a taxi scooter.
Sitting down to dinner at a restaurant on our last night, we were reminiscing about the trip.
A group of American guys were on the next table and we got chatting.
They offered to give us a ride back to our hotel on their scooters.
‘It’s on the way,’ one of them said.
We’ve been fine the whole trip. What could go wrong? I thought.
‘Sure, why not,’ we agreed.
Pulling on a helmet moments later, I jumped on the back of one of the scooters and held on tight.
‘See you there,’ I smiled, waving to Katy who was close behind us.
'What could go wrong?'
Following a stream of scooters in front of us, we watched as oncoming cars pulled to the side of the road to give way to scooters as they passed.
Waiting a few minutes for a gap in the traffic, we planned to do the same.
When a gap appeared, we rode into oncoming traffic, but the four-wheel drive coming towards us didn’t seem to be moving over far enough.
Closing my eyes, I held onto my rider’s waist tightly and hoped we’d be okay.
Colliding with the car, I felt my grip slip away as my body catapulted from the scooter, and I landed with a thud on the road.
Terrifyingly, I was pinned underneath the scooter from my waist down.
As I lay in the middle of the road, cars screeched to a halt around me.
Frantic, the bloke whose scooter I’d been on the back of pulled the bike off me.
Managing to sit up, I looked down at my butchered right leg.
I can see my kneecap, I thought, the white bone staring back at me.
Wiggling my toes to make sure I could feel my feet, I realised the injury was bad.
The scooter driver was hurt too. He had a broken foot, cuts, and scrapes to his face and back.
Katy had seen the accident unfold and was already at my side.
‘Oh my God, what do we do?’ she fretted, shocked.
But she then reassured me I’d be okay.
Rallying around me, locals stopped and diverted traffic while the American guys used a piece of plywood for a stretcher to lift me off the road.
As they moved me though, agonising pain hit and was overwhelming.
At the side of the road, one of the guys made a makeshift splint around my leg using three pieces of timber and some rope.
‘It would be impossible to get an ambulance through this traffic,’ one of the locals said, flagging down a taxi that took me to the public hospital.
There, doctors gave me pain relief and Katy contacted my insurance company, 1Cover, who had me transferred to a private hospital the next day.
Calling my boyfriend, Brody, who was travelling through Vietnam at the time, I told him I’d been in an accident.
‘I’m getting on the night flight,’ he soothed.
X-rays showed I had broken my femur, as well as having a deep laceration to my knee.
I’d need my femur replaced with a titanium rod.
With one last kiss from Brody, I was whisked in for the eight-hour surgery.
After 10 days recovering in Bali, and armed with pain meds and a wheelchair, I flew home.
Mum and Dad were waiting at the airport and took me to the Royal North Shore Hospital for checks.
Just a few hours later, I had the green light to go.
It took four months of intensive physio and rehab twice a week before I could walk without crutches.
And it was eight months before I could bend my knee without excruciating pain.
Now I’m sharing my story to encourage others to take precautions while travelling – and to get travel insurance.
You never know when disaster could strike. I’m so lucky to be alive!