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Annie and Jon left corporate America to do some world traveling. This blog chronicles their unconventional path and hopefully provides a little inspiration along the way.

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Entries in Bali (2)


beep beep

Sharing the road with the local water buffalo. (Kuta, Lombok)

In Bali there is a universal language understood by all people and animals called beep beep. It can mean a lot of different things so you have to be careful how you interpret it. It could mean a turn signal, warning to dogs, pedestrians, and/or other cars that a vehicle is passing by, someone is driving too slow and needs to speed up, sign to oncoming traffic that you are not slowing down to let them in or simply saying hello to someone. In many of the villages there are no sidewalks so motorbikes, cars, horse drawn carriages, people, dog, chickens, and water buffalos all have to learn to share the road and beep beep.

It took us a few days to learn the language and after driving around in a motorbike we have become proficient in it. Sometimes I get too eager or maybe nervous with all the traffic and say the words beep beep rather than waiting for Jon to honk the horn.

We have seen some pretty crazy things on the road. One day we were on a motorbike in Kuta, Lombok on the way to the beach. There were a group of water buffalos coming our way. The road was pretty narrow so we had to pull off to the side of the road to let them pass. I wanted to take a picture so I grabbed my camera out of my bag. One of the water buffalos got spooked by what I was doing because he came to a stand still and stared us for a good ten seconds. I thought he was going to ram into us. They were huge animals and if they decided to hit us it would have been detrimental.  That set off a chain reaction because some of others got so scared that they would stop and stare at us while taking a poop on the road. After they all passed we had a huge poop pile to drive by. I guess it serves me right for scaring them.

On our way to Lembar to catch the ferry to take us back to Bali we had a very gregarious driver. He beeped every two seconds at someone. He got calls on his cell phone and scream into the speaker while keeping another hand on the horn to continue beeping. Later on he blasted Indonesian music and started singing and dancing. We thought that would calm his road rage but he just continued with his beeping. At one point he came to a screeching halt because a hen and her five chickies were running across the road too slowly and of course that caused another beep. We all just laughed. It felt like we were in the middle of an arcade game and every time we darted an animal or car we scored points. We’ll never forget that car ride.

Another memorable experience was our ride from the port in Bali, Padang Bai, to Candi Dasa. When we got off the ferry we were directed to follow a driver who would take us to our home stay. However, he handed us off to another driver since we were the only two people going to Candi Dasa. We got into a beat-up minivan that had about ten 5-gallon water jugs in the back. I think the man was a water delivery man who wanted to make some extra money by picking up people going his way. As we drove along he stopped to pick up some people. We didn’t know how we were all going to fit since there were only two rows of metal seats along the window and we also had our luggage. But just when you think you couldn’t fit any more people one more hopped on. At one point we had a total of seven adults and one child in the car. The most interesting part was the last two elderly men who got on. They had a bundle of long bamboo sticks and a few canvas bags with them. One of the bags started moving so we thought they were fisherman. I asked the person sitting next to them if they had fish inside the bags. The man said no they had something else. Jon couldn’t really understand what the man was saying but I was sure he said bats. I started getting really nervous since I was less than a foot away from them. I just kept my eyes forward and hoped we would arrive at our home stay soon. When we got off I asked the man again if it was really a bat by flapping my hands. He said yes. Yikes!! We later learned that we were on a bemo, which is Bali’s public transportation system. They have larger vehicles which are called buses.

There are many other stories but these are the highlights of our Indo road adventures. We have gotten used to driving on the left side of the road so it will be an adjustment when we go back to the states. 

If you see us on the road please beep at us. It will make us feel like we are in Bali again. 


dazed and confused

When we arrived in Ubud, Suma, our host at the home stay picked us up at the bus stop. It was a quick ten minute drive to our home stay through the center of town. We then drove up an unpaved driveway and Suma told us we would need to walk the rest of the way. The rest of the path is not big enough for a car. Both Jon and I looked at each other with uncertainty. A guy came on his motorcycle to take our suitcases. He was trying to balance both suitcases and looked as if he was going to tip over. He didn't say a word to us and off he went. Suma said he had to park the car and we should go on ahead and follow the path. It should take us only five minutes to reach our home stay. Without another word Suma also took off leaving Jon and I dazed and confused about what was happening. Where are we?!

We followed the narrow footpath as instructed and not before long we were among acres of rice paddies. There were no signs indicating where our home stay was or that we were even in the right place. We kept walking until we came across an art studio. The artist must see the same confused facial expression everyday. Actually we later noticed that there is a sign for Sawah at the junction. It is small and a bit faded with an arrow pointing right. He asked if we were staying at the Sawah Sunrise Bed and Breakfast. We nodded our heads and he told us where to go. We saw a traditional Balinese house that was really nicely kept. I remember saying to Jon that’s a pretty place. After a few more meters we saw the man who had our suitcases and we were pleasantly surprised the house we just saw was our home stay. We walked in and were shown to our room.

There are a total of four rooms and we were staying on the top floor. The window in our room overlooked the rice paddies and we could see a farmer working. He was literally right next door to us. We put our stuff down and plopped on the bed with a big sigh. We made it!

A few minutes later the guy who carried our suitcases brought us a refreshing lime juice. We found out his name is Nyoman (because he’s the third child in his family) and he’s a bit shy but once you start probing him with questions he’s happy to talk. His English is pretty good and everyday he learns a new word in the dictionary. He is honest and straightforward with his answers. One day we asked him about arak, which is a hard liquor Balinese men drink (women aren’t supposed to drink since it’s considered unlady). He told us to be careful because people have gone blind from it though I think it’s probably from over consumption. Nonetheless he gave us all the warnings of arak. We have come to really like Nyoman and become good friends with him.

Over the next few days while we have been at Sawah we noticed that everyone first walks in with the same dazed expression. They are not quite sure where they are. We have greeted many of them while relaxing at the bamboo gazebo on the front lawn. I have realized all that we are looking for sometimes is that reassurance that we are in the right place. Especially if you have never visited an area such as Bali you are just not sure what is happening. You are warned that you should never leave your luggage with someone else. Rationally we know that nothing is going to happen but just to have a nod and smile from another tourist allows you to relax your shoulders and exhale. And then you come to realize what an amazing place Sawah is.

We have really enjoyed our first home stay experience. Suma, his wife, and Nyoman made every effort to ensure our stay was relaxing and enjoyable. Sawah was small and quaint and the scenery was beautiful. You open your window in the morning to the sounds of rooster croaking and see rice paddies, rows and rows of coconut trees, and ducks swimming in the paddies. You can’t believe how far away from home you are and what you are experiencing. You try to take it all in.