Riding in cars with strangers

Taxi photo Ubud


Transport? Yes? Transport? Tomorrow? Anyone who has been to Bali will be familiar with the always optimistically asked question of whether you need transport, even if you are literally stepping out of a taxi, they will still ask.

Drivers are everywhere here, trying to make a living and will do their best, understandably to get a gig. You can’t walk a few steps without a tooting horn from a taxi if you are in Kuta/Legian area, a roadside driver calling transport, or a friendly face offering you a ride if in Ubud, as taxis aren’t allowed to operate here.

Today I was taking a walk and had already said no about fifty times when I started talking to a friendly guy named Wayan. Oh by the way, people tell you to ignore when approached by drivers, shop keepers etc, after all these years, I still can’t do that. I smile politely and say no thank you in English or Bahasa, depending on my mood. Everyone is just doing their best to make a buck and deserves respect, even if you have been asked a million times if you want a massage, pedicure, leather jacket, valium, viagra, transport etc. So back to Wayan. I told him I didn’t need a ride as I was jalan jalan (walking). We had a chat and I took his number as you never know when you need a ride, especially given I was here for a month this trip.

After lunch I was about to head out to find a driver back to my villa when I remembered him, so I sent him a text and asked him to pick me up. No big deal right? It was only when I started thinking of it from an outsiders perspective that it might seem strange. Where else in the world would you hop in a car or onto the back of a motorbike in this case, with no idea of who you are going with, and no way to monitor who is taking you. No ID, no licensing regulations, just a bloke with a motorbike. Only in Bali, well for me anyway.

me and random

Just another day shopping in Seminyak – 2009

I was then reminded of the many times I have gotten rides on bikes and in cars with different people and I remembered the day I met Ketut. It was November 2009 and my friend and I were walking up Monkey Forest Road when a cheeky guy said something that got my attention. I sat on the roadside and talked to him for ages, he was hilarious and we had a great laugh. I then asked if he could take me for a ride, so he and his friend got their bikes and off we went. No idea where and for how long, but I didn’t care. My friend only went a short time as her guy had to be back at work but Ketut and I went for a couple of hours. We went to the back blocks of Ubud to places I’ve never seen, beautiful peaceful places, and he even took me to his family compound to see his home. I had a lovely time and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

me and ketut

Ketut and I touring around Ubud – 2009

I’m usually such a scaredy cat. I would never do this in Australia and I don’t walk around the streets in the dark at home either, despite living in a very safe area. Here though, I feel so safe that I don’t give these kinds of things a second thought. I don’t place myself in danger or take unnecessary risks, but I certainly don’t feel scared either.  I’m currently here alone for a month to write my book and am happy pottering around and could do so forever.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be safe, or take care of ourselves, but I am saying that life is here to be enjoyed. Live it to its fullest, no matter who you are or where you are. Embrace it, take a chance. Talk to a stranger. Strangers are after all just friends we haven’t met yet.

You never know who you might meet or where you might end up. Enjoy the wonderful adventure that life is!

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