Yikes!...Crazy trip to Negara...Soooooooo many cars, trucks, motorbikes and people...

In Hanoi, a few months ago, we witness the craziness of over 5 million motorbikes.  In Bali, we expect there are as many although we can't find any stats.

"Sightings on the Beach in Bali"
What?  A duck flew into the pool!
Where do we begin? Its not easy to describe our first foray on our own with Tom driving as we made our way to Negara, the biggest city closest to Sumbersari. We discover that the traffic and crazy roadways during the 30 to 40 minute drive was comparable in its complexity as the four to five hour harrowing drive to and from Denpasar.

Holding on for dear life, good driver that Tom is, I remained on constant alert watching the road for possible hazards while Tom kept a watchful eye on the endless stream of fast weaving motorbikes.  The local drivers are used to all of this, not us.
She seemed perfectly content until realizing  it could be tough getting out so she swam to the steps as shown and walked out.  Animals are amazing!
It was not unlike Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, a favorite of mine as a kid when we'd go to Disneyland once or twice a year. While driving in Bali one must anticipate a log or other large obstacle that may have fallen off a vehicle, a motorbike or car darting out from a side road or an entire grouping of motorbikes coming at you when trying to pass a slow moving vehicle.

I supposed a considerable aspect of the stress of driving in Bali is the constant need to pass on the narrow two lanes roads with little or no shoulder.  If I was driving I'd stay behind the slow moving vehicle all the way to my destination.  But Tom, like most aggressive and determined drivers, simply won't tolerate moving at a snail's pace.

It was nearly impossible to maneuver the trolley in the produce department.
Only a few times, I spewed, "Honey, we have all the time in the world."  He agreed but its not the time of day he's focusing on.  Its his innate desire to keep moving at a reasonable pace.  Of course, I'd have really been anxious if he wasn't such a good driver. 

But, Tom is capable enough that I was able to rely upon his good judgment and skills while I watched for other road hazards.  We only encountered one log on the road during the round trip drive.

Our intent had been to do some sightseeing in Negara before heading to the market. Although, last time we were there, a few months ago, we saw the major highlights.  Repeats weren't necessary.  Instead we'd planned to drive around the busy town to explore willy nilly.  That proved to be a pointless objective.

Customer service lines were jammed with shoppers.
With the heavy traffic, horns honking, blocked roads, people walking while texting and motorbikes everywhere it only took awhile for us to changed our minds about sightseeing.   

After ending up at a few crowded dead end roads with barely a means of turning around, waiting in long lines of cars that were barely moving, knowing Tom's 'traffic distress" I blurted out, "Let's just find the market and ATM, do what we need to do and head back to the villa."  We didn't need the stress.  Its not our thing.

Motorbikes are everywhere!
Luckily, Tom's sense of direction always serves us well.  Within 30 minutes after we'd arrived in Negara, he pulled in to a surprisingly open parking spot near Hardy's Market and the ATM.  Little did we know what we'd encounter inside the store.

Never in our lives, even on the day before a holiday weekend, did we ever see so many people grocery shopping, anywhere in the world.  Once we were entangled in the crowd attempting to push our small lightweight trolley, we wished we'd grabbed a smaller hand cart when it was nearly impossible to get around the people.

Incense is used frequently by the Balinese people not only during religious celebrations but often in daily life.  The market carried numerous options at low prices.
Since the two Ketuts (I've been spelling their names wrong in past posts) don't have access to purchasing regular lettuce at the open markets early in the morning, we were happy to find it in the packed produce department where each item must be weighed at a specific weighing station. 

Luckily, that line moved quickly.  Without any other produce on our list we were thrilled to wrangle our way out of the busy produce section.  Then we were off to find other items on the list; cheese, mayo, olives, coffee, paper towels and a few other items that can't be purchased in the local markets here in Melaya Beach.

None of the store employees spoke English, nor did we find any other English speaking shoppers we could ask to help us find the items on our list.  Instead, we accepted the fact we'd have to scour every single row in every single narrow aisle to find the items on the list.  Checking off the items on the grocery app on my phone, we were finally done and searched for the shortest cashier line.  All registers were open with huge queues.

Beer, soda, alcoholic beverages and cigarettes at less than US $2, IDR 426,230 a pack are sold in the market.
With only 8 to 10 shoppers in front of us in our chosen row, none with a cart full like ours, we waited for no less than 30 minutes.  There are no moving belts, no scanning machines, no swipe-your-credit-card-machines since they only accept cash.  There's only a tiny space to load the groceries, contributing to the slow pace of the process.

Finally, we made it through the line, paying for our groceries and quickly headed out the door to escape from the dense crowds.  While I shopped, Tom left to go the nearby ATM.  Once he loaded the cool box we'd brought along in the back of the van, we were on our way back to the villa. 

Whew!  We were both sweating from the lack of air con in the market and anxious to blast the cold air in the van for the return ride.  But, getting cool was the least of it with yet another harrowing 30 to 40 minutes on the road.

 We graciously apologized when bumping into other shoppers as we waited in line to pay.
Happy to be back at the villa, we quickly put our groceries away, threw on our swimsuits and jumped into the pool as we do every sunny afternoon.  In no time at all, the hectic scenario wafted from our minds as we languished in our peaceful villa overlooking the sea, thrilled to be back in paradise.

How does we travel the world avoiding traffic and crowds?  We don't.  We continue to be stuck in traffic or at a venue bumping elbows with strangers wherever we may go. It the nature of the beast.  When traffic and crowds are avoidable without sacrificing too much, we're all over it.

We'll encounter lots more traffic and people elbow rubbing in 10 days when we head to Lovina for four nights in a hotel while we work on acquiring our visa extensions for our last 30 days in Indonesia.  In the interim, we have no motivation to repeat yesterday's experience any sooner than we have to.

We hope you have a stress free day!  We plan on it!

Photo from one year ago today, September 16, 2015:
We couldn't believe the beauty of Savusavu bay as we overlooked Nawi Island.  For more photos of Savusavu, Fiji, please click here.


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