Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Driving in Bali - June 2014

On our recent trip to Bali, Indonesia Becca and I spent a lot of time on the road touring the island by SUV.  The island of Bali is about the size of the state of Minnesota and you can get anywhere and back in a day.  

My daughter, Becca had heard that you can rent a car and driver for $30 – 40 per day and go anywhere you wish on the island.  They will take you to your destination, wait for you to finish a tour or shopping or lunch and then take you to your next destination.  

Let me set the stage for you.
1.        Small. Narrow Roads:
The roads are narrow, small and single lanes each way in order to keep the environment as natural and original as possible. Along the road are markets, farms, convenience stores, eating places and in the country are temples and rice fields.  
2.        Vehicles:
There are tour buses, SUVs, trucks, motor scooters and bicycles everywhere.  
The motor scooters seem to be the most popular mode of transportation.  They are seen all over the road as they  weave their way around and through the traffic in any way possible.  

 Does this make sense to you?

A family of five can be seen on one motor scooter - one parent drives, the other sits behind and the kids are squeezed in between.
Our mode of transportation was by SUV with our own private driver.  
We did take motor scooters into town to shop one day but only once and not very far.

3.        Parking:
In addition, there is never anywhere to park your vehicle.  If you need to stop to buy something, the driver will pull over as much as possible, stop and the cars and scooters behind must merge into oncoming traffic and go around that stopped vehicle.  If there is a parking area - you will back into it with help from employees in the area - trus, trus, trus until they tap the back of the vehicle to STOP.
4.        Speed – not posted:
There are no speed limits posted, which is usually OK because you’re only driving at the speed of 2 miles per hour anyway.  There are no rules and it seems very chaotic to me.  Normal citizens help move traffic constantly until the police show up and take over.  
5.        Walking:
There are no sidewalks, only roads and you are at the mercy of the traffic already on the road.  To cross the street, you need to wait for a pause in the flow and then hold up your arm to halt traffic still coming.

I found it very hard to watch the road and traffic while being transported from place to place, mainly because they mix it all up and do it the opposite of us.  They drive on the other side of the road - their left turn is a right turn for us and their right turn is across traffic and similar to our left turn but it’s not.  The passenger seat is on the driver’s side and the driver sits on the opposite side. Got that?

I never did get used to driving on the wrong side of the road.  I found it hard to watch the road with all the scooters dodging and weaving through traffic.  I was so happy that I wasn’t doing the driving.

Back Home in the USA:
In addition to jet lag and loss of sleep from my travels, I thought I would never be comfortable driving a car again - there are so many differences here in Minnesota - fewer if any scooters, driving on the other side of the road and the fast speed and posted limits to follow constantly.  I started out slow, just taking in errands in the neighborhood and soon found driving in the USA in must less complicated and our traffic here is nothing compared to traffic in Indonesia.

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