Friday, September 08, 2006

Visionari Blog#4 Bikes 'N People

Welcome to Blog #4
As I mentioned in the last blog this one is dedicated to the subjects of bikes (cycle & motorized) and people, as these subjects are everywhere in Bali. Bikes are an essential part of Bali life, used in all manner of ways. They really are integrated into their culture as some of the photos below reveal. Many houses do not have what we would call road access, with very basic walking paths which can be navigated by the motorbikes, so they cart in and out all manner of things, often very precariously balanced or held with one hand. This is why the automatic motor bike, including electric start, is so handy for them. I took some interesting photos from the Ojek (which is the Indonesian word for motorbike) of other Ojeks.

Like this guy sitting on at least a couple of 8x4 sheets of ply while he rode down the main road with the backs of the sheets nearly on the road. Another with a fat guy complete with a full bag of Rice across the back. Many other fantastic sights I was too slow to capture with a photo.

However I saw these cyclists with their huge grass swarths & rode past them, stopped to get the camera out. As soon as a bike stops (this was pretty much in the middle of nowhere) kids run up to the bike wanting to be in the photo. As I already had the camera out they went bananas, so I took a photo of them & motioned them to come and have a look, which they did & were once again ecstatic!

Filling up at the petrol stations is also often an interesting experience. I knew I had about 1/3 left in the tank, the attendant filled it up & I saw the price at 15,400 Rps. He started filling somebody else’s Ojek, so I gave the exact money to the other bloke, and I said ok he’s got the money, the bloke said, no the price is 20,000 Rps. I knew that wasn’t right because when I was nearly empty once before, & I had said to another petrol station attendant, the previous day, “put in 20,000 rps, worth” & it overflowed at 19,000Rps. So I just closed the seat down, hopped on the bike and took off!!!! Seems like its open slather on the petrol stations. You also need to really look at the change that gets handed back as that’s often on the light side.

My map showed a road around the back linking the whole Gunung Batur crater area, so off I started on it. However the road got narrower & rougher. Finally it petered out at Blandingan. I drove down through this village which was pretty dirty with chickens & mangey scruffy dogs, & there was no road. Immediately people came from everywhere, nobody could speak English. I pointed to the next town on the map & was shown a direction & started to head the bike towards it, but it was obvious it was only a walking track.

By the look of all the people & kids around, this thing called me was a fairly rare event! A woman was washing herself naked from the waist up & just continued on. Some young lads said Photo, Photo, so I took my camera out & took one of him, by this time the crowd was maybe 30 people, old, young, everyone! So I thought ok lets see what happens when I take the sax out for a blow! I took my helmet off, & opened the sax case, & started to play, it raised quite a stir (a lot of smiles & bagus’s, which means good!)

I had given the camera to the young guy who started it all off with the photos, & shown him how to use it. He came back with no photo, & we did the same scenario another 4 times after that with also no photos. Finally I got through to him by holding my finger on his arm and pushed & held it to give him the idea, which worked! They asked if I wanted tobacco, or coffee, both I said no to, then an older dark skinned man asked if I needed Benzine. I was at about half a tank so I said ok & of he shot! I was showing people the images I’d taken of them & it was as though they had never seen a digital camera. When I took my glasses off, a couple of the older men picked them up to try on themselves, then I noticed no one around here is wearing glasses (maybe they don’t have them or need them?). I made a joke with the sax case balancing on my head, like the women carrying loads, using my jacket as a soft head balancing substitute for the towels or rings they use, however the lady who I cracked the joke to, started putting on my jacket & was having a great laugh about it all. Occasionally I’d let fly with the Sax & finally decided to put it away! Now the guy with the Benzine has turned up & poured 2 litres into my tank. I gave him 10,000 & wasn’t sure if that was enough, so I gave him another 10,000, which he gratefully received (this was about double going rate, I found out later). I tied my sax on the back, made sure I’d left nothing behind & got on the Ojek & headed out & up. The guy who I’d got the Benzine from had a bunch of very green bananas, asking me if I wanted any, so I said ok, then he said, money, so I said no thanks & took off for civilization.

Getting back to Kitamani & Batur I stopped well away from the corner to consult my map, however people still approach asking if I want a guide or a sarong. Another guy comes up on another ojek, saying its ok I’m not a guide, I’m an artist. Where you from, ah New Zealand, I have friends in New Zealand and promptly opens his diary at a hand written page from a Maori guy who married a Finnish woman & has bought painting from this guy. He starts showing me his stuff, anyway thanks, but no thanks. Gee the electric start on the Ojek is great for fast getaways. Another 5 km down the road I stopped in the middle of nowhere, no buildings just a fork in the road. Another motorbike approached & pulled up along side, with exactly the same patter, it's OK I’m not a guide, where you from. I have friends from NZ etc, & please look at my paintings. By now the bike almost does it on its own!

So by now you can see how important to Balinese is the humble Ojek. It's truly the servant of the people. Next week I head to Singapore to update my Visa before the final month's Bali Hi. So till then “Be Bagus”.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim
Good to catch up with your travels. Mum will be here in just over a week to fly to Cairns for our holiday. She has a cold at the moment and a slight strain in a calf muscle. She will see the phsio today.

Toodle oo