Scott and I were in Bali this fall. We took my trusty iphone with us on the trip. I was a bit reluctant about carrying it with us, in fear of it getting lost or stolen. But having the google maps application was a great way to get us from A to B…so I thought.
First of all, I had the adventurous, slash dumb idea of renting a car in Indonesia. The driving is crazy in Denpasar. But once you get into the mellow suburbs, like Ubud, it’s not so bad, though challenging, driving on the left side of the road, on the right side of the vehicle, with a stick shift. I had done a lot of driving in Australia, so I took the wheel.
We decided to venture from civilized Ubud to the Northwest side of the island, near Java. There is a national park there with awesome diving and snorkeling. We figured we wanted a rugged vehicle, so we splurged on fifteen dollars a day for a four-wheel drive. When the rental car company delivered our ride, they were out of the rugged four-wheelers and delivered us a bicycle wheeled piece of shit, but only charged us twelve bucks a day! Such a deal.
We were all packed and ready to hit the road, so we shrugged our shoulders and went with it. We were told by locals that the roads to our destination, Pemuteran, were paved and in good shape. The drive was allegedly around 122 kilometers, estimated to take four and a half hours. Here is the google map page. That is an average of about 27 klicks an hour. Pretty slow for paved roads, but they are really curvy and mountainous, so I guess that sounds about right, stopping for monkey crossings, scenic rice paddy fields, and taking pictures of ladies carrying cool stuff on their heads.
The journey was going quite smoothly. My iphone was hooked up to the car charger we brought along, with a converter. Then we took a wrong turn at Albuquerque. According to the google map that was guiding us, we were on the correct road. This was not a road. This was a bunch of dirt and rocks with huge dips and holes! At first it wasn’t that intense, but eventually, traveling up and down mountainous jungle, it was really bad.
There was no turning back at this point, though. The hill we had just descended was so steep that there was no way the piece of shit car would make it back up! And conditions were getting worse. According to the fucking google map, we only had another twenty klicks to go before reaching what appeared to be a major intersection. We hadn’t seen one for an hour. Then we lost satellite reception. And there was a moment where we could go either straight or left. Which way do we go?
My leg was going like a jack-hammer. I was really nervous. We video-taped some of the ride, including this “crossroads” moment, as we just sat there in the middle of nowhere, with no cars anywhere to be seen. We were seriously lost.
After ten minutes, a guy on a motor bike came along, machete by his side. He looked at us with a face that basically read, “what the heck are you doing here, Howly?”
I only speak about five words in Indonesian. (The basics, like, hello, thank you, where’s the bathroom, and you have a nice smile.) We managed to communicate by saying the name of our destination. I was also a bit paranoid that he might lead us to a dead-end, because Howly, was carrying lots of cash and toys that could feed his family for a year. (Howly is slang for white tourist.) My idea was to dive with the fisheees, not sleep with them.
When I pointed to the left, he shook his head no. He gestured to go straight and said a bunch of stuff I didn’t understand. I said, “Terima Kasih”. (Thank you.)
I have great video footage of this encounter, but my camera got ruined by that biatch, Hurricane Sandy, after we returned home. And we also would have had great photos from Scott’s really expensive Nikon, but I talked him out of taking it on the trip, as I thought for sure it would get stolen…so we left it in Jersey, and it got trashed by Sandy as well. (I hate her!)
For about another ten miles we slowly went over boulders, dipped into trenches, and searched for the best way to crawl around the holes to avoid getting stuck. At least it was dry! We eventually made it to the main, paved road and to our resort, which was like heaven after what we had been through. The ride took us about six hours.
Of course we were happy and grateful to get there in one piece, and our vehicle unscathed. But I was really pissed off at google maps for guiding us this way. We trusted them. It was clearly not the best route. And as it turned out, there was another road, NOT shown on our shit-for-brains google map, that was paved. Why don’t they hire people in each region to help them? Can they not afford it? These third world countries could use the income. I kind of wanted to sue them. But I think there is some clause they have, where they are not responsible for giving you misguided routes that can potentially get you killed.
But I didn’t lose the iphone, so I have at least a photo to share of the resort.
Selamat Tingal for now.