How To Get Run Over In Bali

October 11, 2010

So I’m noodling along Jl. Padma on the motorbike, doing maybe 8 kph, and this elderly chappie steps on to the road without looking – right in front of my bike. As it strikes me as a reasonable thing to do, I hit the brakes hard. He hears the sound of tyres scrabbling on tarmac, panics, and instead of continuing to cross the road, spins around and lunges for the apparent safety of the footpath, which puts him directly in front of my bike again. My bike stops 10 cm from him. He glares at me, breathing heavily.

“You’re going too fast!” he says. The fact that he didn’t even bother to check for traffic before crossing the road seems to have escaped him. I am unperturbed – low speed avoidance of perambulating idiots is commonplace here. He, on the other hand is in shock, believing he has just survived a near-death experience. “You were going too fast”, he insists. “If I was going too fast, I would have hit you”, I say reasonably. “You need to look before you step off the footpath, because Bali traffic is dangerous”, I continue mildly. He is clearly rattled, because, fixated on his belief that he bears no responsibility for his safety, he walks backwards away from me, muttering “You were going too fast”, as a taxi narrowly avoids running him down. I consider suggesting that he get a good medical insurance plan, but keep my counsel. He’d probably say that I’m talking too fast anyway.

What can you do? Like many visitors, this character neither understands Bali’s traffic nor has the basic skills of self-preservation to survive it. However, unlike many visitors, this one seems incapable of learning from his mistakes. It’s so much more comfortable blaming someone else for one’s senior moments, isn’t it? Ah well, I guess I’ll see you in hospital soon, mate. Good luck.



  1. Another winner, Vyt. Thanks for the post. I can’t imagine that you’ll get much argument that it’s often the visitors who are the danger on the road. And those who recommend to new tourists that they look down and not make eye contact have to share the blame. What irresponsible, dangerous advice!

  2. Glad that you decided to start writing again, I was hoping that your previous post wouldn’t be your last. For me, I usually face the most arguments and “road rage” from unknowing tourists who don’t know how to walk on these roads never mind drive on them. That’s life though.

    BTW check out my Bali blog!

    • Mmmm – got withdrawal symptoms after 2 weeks. But I’m only writing little short ones for a while. They’re easier to fit into my busy schedule of doing , er … nothing mostly.
      Like your blog – the link to it is up in the sidebar 🙂

  3. Good to see you back, keep them coming.!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Short sabbatical. Best kind.
    Glad you’re back.

  5. Short but sweet. Or sour? Anyway, don’t go away again.

  6. Odd, usually it’s the locals that tend to walk into traffic without looking, I’ve had to avoid more of those than I had to avoid any tourists.

    • I find that the locals are the ones who will walk across/along the narrower streets and gangs with impunity. It seems to be the “this is MY village; I do what I want” syndrome. The same philosophy seems to drive their tendency to park their bikes anywhere they want – regardless of whether it blocks traffic, or how dangerous it is.

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