I thought you might enjoying hearing about our trip from another perspective, so I snagged an email John wrote to some of his friends about a recent overnight bus ride we took from Bali to Java. The trip was quite entertaining and so was how John described it.
Please welcome the newest guest blogger to The Courage Vibe, Mr. John White or Boss Man as he is called here in Indonesia.
Okay, so trying to stay on a budget and experience what “the locals do,” we decided to save a couple of hundred bucks and take the bus from north of Kuta to Java, the island northwest of Bali and a ferry ride away.
Where to begin.
Oh yes, the bus terminal. Thank goodness we had a guide. There would have been no way we would have navigated that one without some help. Also, be it good or bad, we didn’t have to change buses.
We were told this was a luxury bus and led to believe the seats reclined, with plenty of legroom, and a toilet. Right! There was assigned seating, and Jody and Riley had the only pair of seats on the entire bus with no leg room.
After about an hour into the trip, the air-conditioning gave out. Did I mention it is hot and muggy here? Oh, and the windows wouldn’t open and the bus was packed.
The lack of air became obvious quite quickly.
Then there was the driving. Let me just say, if anyone drove in the US like our driver did for hour after hour, he would be locked up for reckless driving and endangerment. I’ve never experienced anything like the ride on this bus. It felt like a suicide drive. Our bus was about 75 feet long, and the driver sped along at 60-80 km’s per hour, coming up behind other big trucks, some going 20 MPH, and pulling into the oncoming lanes with motor scooters, cars, trucks and other buses coming right at us.
Our bus didn’t accelerate like a turbo-charged Volvo; it took awhile to get going, which meant passing other vehicles was harrowing. The half dozen times I had the courage to watch, we didn’t make it around the other trucks in time. Often, the driver of the truck we were passing would slam on his brakes or head for the shoulder to give us room, and the oncoming traffic would do the same. The bus driver’s “assistant” sat on the floor about four feet from the windshield without a seat belt. If we had ever hit anything, he would have been the bug going thru’ the windshield from the inside out.
This swerving, diving, and slamming of the brakes went on all night long. Jody had to reposition herself in her seat repeatedly.
After about three hours, we arrived at the port for a ferry ride to the next island. Five ferries were lined up, but there were only two loading ramps. There were scores of large trucks waiting to get onto the ferries, and they backed on, one at a time within inches of each other. It took 90 minutes.
Once on board, I sat out on the bow, where it was pleasant and peaceful. I needed to calm myself down. Jody and Alli walked up a flight of stairs and were invited by the captain to join him. Riley wandered down to the main cabin. We heard squeals coming from that direction and discovered Riley in the middle of a couple hundred swarming Hindu girls who seemed to believe he was Justin Bieber, or enough of a lookalike to rate a celebrity welcome. He must have had a hundred pictures taken with the girls. Jody and Alli also had their share of photos taken.
We met a teacher who spoke English. He invited us to dinner at his home a few nights later to help his students practice their English.
Getting off the ferry was interesting to say the least.
The captain drove the ferry up to shore and dropped the ramp right onto the big rocks. This meant the passengers on foot had to crawl up the bank. When the ramp finally became available, the buses unloaded. We watched drivers maneuver their huge trucks back down the ramp and onto the ferry in the dark, parking their big rigs inches from each other. No one seemed to get upset, which impressed me.
With about an hour left on the trip in the stuffy, hot, swaying machine, the driver pulled into a bus repair shop…to fix the air conditioning? Please? No, to switch out the windshield!
While the windshield was being replace, we decided we needed a cup of coffee and some breakfast, so I asked a man outside the gate to direct us. He walked us down the street, into an alley and to a café on a very busy street. We ordered coffee and chicken Satay, one of four things on the menu. We watched the café owner prepare our food on a grill right there on the sidewalk. The grill was 6” wide and about 15” long. The “chicken” was chewy, and overcooked. Uncertain what we were really eating, we took it back to share with others on the bus. Later, we were told it was probably goat, hopefully.
At daybreak, we started dropping passengers off. At no point on the trip could I determine where we were. Talk about going by faith! An English-speaking contractor who was building a house in Bali helped us know where to get off of the bus. Fortunately, he got off at the same stop we did and hailed down a taxi, arranging a set fare and telling the driver where to take us.
We continue to have wonderful people like that contractor pop into our lives at precisely the right moment to make friends, give us great advice, and help us get to our destinations.
1. Glad we did it.
2. NEVER again.
3. Met some wonderful people.
4. Have an opportunity to volunteer and teach.
5. New appreciation for what people without many options do to get around.
6. Each of us experiences different things.
7. Each of us is glad about who we are and what we have.