Driving in Bali is like playing space invaders. Cars, dogs, scooters, chickens, trucks and bikes are all sharing the one lane road with you and they’re coming at you from every direction trying to kill you. If you get distracted by the 7 year old driving past you on his scooter with his three year old brother perched behind, more fool you, because you’re going to plough into the family of 5 – sharing one helmet – that are weaving dangerously in front of you.
So I’m not sure putting me behind the wheel of a huge 4×4 is a good idea. But I’d rather be there than be the chicken on the road. That’s a literal chicken I’m talking about – not a wussy kind of driver. The chickens seem to get a bad deal in Bali. Roadkill or just plain kill, grill and on a plate next to a pile of rice. They don’t stand a chance.
Anyway, driving here – it’s kind of invigorating. It’s better than driving in South East London because here no one gets out their car with a baseball bat and smashes your car up if you cut them up (that did actually happen to me in Brixton). In Bali they expect to be cut up and just smile about it. Also here if the police see you do something bad you can pay them off with the 50,000 rupiah you stash in your glove compartment ($5), whereas if you tried to pay cigarette money to a policeman in the UK you’d be arrested.
I can hear my dad and my brother reading this and going ‘She’s driving? She’s driving in Bali? JESUS.’ Well HUH. Yes I’m driving and so far no deaths, of the human kind, though I make no claims about the poultry kind. And the thing is getting in a car I felt like I was 17 again – the same crazy, stomach wobbling feeling of liberty and lip-biting excitement at having the means to explore the world and to be able to ditch out of school whenever I felt like it. Having a car is like being given keys to the kingdom. And in this case, the kingdom is Bali. It’s heaven and I’ve got a hall pass.
I drop Lula off at school in the morning then head on into town for breakfast/shopping oh who the hell cares. I don’t . I just like the drive and knowing I can go wherever I want whenever I want. Then I mooch on back to pick her up and then we’re like Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon – Lula and I – we head on out on the open road keeping one eye open for Brad Pitt. Let’s just hope it doesn’t come to a nose dive off a canyon.