As with any travels, transport around your holiday destination is important otherwise you’d never go anywhere. When we stayed near Kuta it wasn’t really an issue because for local travel you just pull over a Blue Taksi and for short trips they’re very economical. We were about half a kilometre from Waterbom Park and the Centro shopping Centre and at first the thought of catching a taxi was not right to me because normally I would walk that far.
After a couple of days though I was hopping into cabs like a seasoned pro because it was hot, because we had kids with us, because the footpaths in Bali aren’t easy to walk on, and because it wasn’t too expensive. From our hotel to the shopping centre only cost about 5000 Rupiah and the most we paid to Kuta Square was about 17,000 Rupiah (just over $2 Australian) so not much at all. There’s so many of these Blue Taksi’s they don’t seem to mind very short trips and they also didn’t mind three adults and three kids piling into the one taxi. It wouldn’t happen over here.
For the longer trips you need to arrange transport in a non-metered cab as it works out more economical and you have a guarantee of transport to and from and around your destination. We ended up doing this quite a bit and in some cases we may have paid too much and in other cases we got a really good deal.
When we transferred from our first to our second hotel we got chatting to a taksi driver and his uncle had a car that could take us for 175,000 Rupiah. We then found out that this trip should cost us no more than 100,000 Rupiah. As we couldn’t contact the driver to cancel I negotiated the next morning a drop in price. I felt a bit guilty at first but then we ended up giving this driver a LOT of our business and buying him some McDonald’s for him and his family (well The Surfer paid for most of it). I wouldn’t normally buy McDonald’s for anyone but it was obviously a treat for him and he was good to us. In the image above shows The Surfer and our main driver Ayok.
For instance we rang him not long after the hotel transfer and asked how much it would be to to Bali Safari and Marine Park for the day. He told me it would normally be 300,000 Rupiah but he’d only charge us 200,000. We were gone for a long day’s worth and he drove us there and back – the whole trip taking three hours altogether due to traffic – and waited around for us all day. I gather at these places that drivers earn some sort of commission so hopefully that made it more worth his while.
Our day trip to Ubud – driving there, back and to a friend’s place near Ubud – we paid 300,000 Rupiah and we found out afterwards that it should have been closer to 500,000 (around $70 Australian).
Whether we underpaid the transport drivers or not they were always happy as they were really glad to just have the work. They were good with the kids and were always quite chatty and helpful with unpacking and/or packing the car. This was brought home to me when we arrived home in Adelaide and our taxi driver sat in his seat while we got all our luggage out. Perhaps if we’d tipped him he would have helped but I really noticed that he didn’t offer to help.
The other main mode of transport in Bali is the motorbike or scooter. It’s cheaper to run and takes less time to get from A to B in heavy traffic because heavy traffic it is. Even though the main roads have their lanes marked there is no regard for this whatsoever. Where there should only be two lanes of traffic there were three lanes of cars and scooters zipping inbetween and around cars when they could. We saw some westerners riding scooters but for the short time we were there I didn’t get on a bike at all.
Unfortunately we witnessed a tragic accident on the way home from celebrating my son’s birthday at Waterbom Park one afternoon. The traffic had been flowing fairly well until it noticeably slowed down. I looked out the window up ahead and saw two bodies lying on the road. Lots of people were standing around looking and the bodies weren’t moving. We diverted the kids eyes and drove slowly past. Two people, probably riding a scooter, had been clipped by a passing car (which we saw ahead) and I gathered that they’d also been run over. It was an awful end to what had been a pretty good day for us, but it was obviously worse for these two people and their families.
Even though the traffic is chaos I didn’t have my foot on an imaginary brake the whole time I was in a car because everyone seems to know what’s going on. It always freaked me out to see scooters pull out into oncoming traffic without looking though. Our drivers usually honked their horn if they thought someone ahead should know that someone was coming up close behind them but generally it seemed to be a rule of give way to what’s ahead of you and don’t drive too fast. I didn’t see any evidence of road rage at all. I think everyone who is a road rage perpetrator should be sent to drive in a country like this to see how existing on a road with other people can work.
I’ll never forget coming home from the Bali Safari and Marine Park. It was dusk and it must have been around knock off time. Lots of people were trying to cross the road that we were driving on and we noticed one woman riding a scooter with a huge load on her head that she managed to balance while getting across the really busy road. It’s amazing what scooters can carry – people’s livliehoods and their whole families (often without wearing helmets).