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Having never traveled in Bali, I was unprepared for the amount of traffic in Ubud, one of the larger cities. The narrow streets are crammed with cars, trucks, and motorbikes of all sizes and description. No one pays much attention to traffic laws and they park in whatever small space is free, even if it means blocking half the road. I was soon surprised to find myself plunging into this mass of crazy traffic.
One of the first tasks we like to accomplish when traveling is getting new SIM cards for our iPhones so that we can access the Internet as well as make local calls.
Chris, the Aussie manager at the Taman Sari Guest House where we were staying, told me that Kadek, one of the young women who are housekeepers here, would take me into town and help me get them. It appeared that I would be riding on the back of her motorbike. He then told me that I couldn’t wrap my arms around her waist (too intimate). My only option was to hold on underneath the side of the seat which didn’t feel all that secure.
Kadek drove fast as they all do here, but also with a natural, practiced ease. I only had to close my eyes twice as we squeezed into tiny spaces between large automobiles and parked motorbikes. The first shop she chose for me didn’t have the correct type of SIM, so after a bit of a chat with the counter person, in Indonesian (I’m guessing), she took me to a more expensive computer store that had them.
It cost $33 for the two SIM cards so that both Laurie and I could have an unlimited data plan for a month and some calling time. Initially I wasn’t getting any calling time, because I hadn’t expressed myself very well, but Kadek interceded with the clerk so that I got what I needed.
Then we hopped back on the motorbike for our harrowing ride home. Of course, I paid Kadek for the ride and her time. She was quite happy with USD$3.00 which is the going rate plus a nice tip. A few days later Laurie and I would rent our own motorbike and begin the process of learning to “go with the flow” of the traffic in Ubud, Bali.
I got hit by a moped in Bali…I was a pedestrian just minding my own business! Which makes me think you’re probably safer on one than off! Great article, we were too chicken to get bikes in Ubud, we walked miles!
Ouch! Sorry to hear that Nicky. Yes, you definitively have to stay very alert while walking or riding in Bali. We did rent a motorbike for our month there, and by the end, we had gotten a little braver, even driving through the dense city traffic. But there was another danger, besides the traffic. Huge pot holes marred all the streets. Sometimes I felt like our little motorbike could disappear into one! My solution was to watch the motorbike right in front of me and move where they did. Fortunately, we survived the experience and it sure was beautiful riding through the rice fields!
The riding sounds like great scary but functional fun.
It was a little scary at first, but the natives ride so well that I feel safe knowing that they will keep their distance. My old motorcycle skills have helped too.