bali street markets


Waiting patiently outside the salon for my hair-cutter to finish with a customer. What else is there to do but watch the always-entertaining passing parade?

On the other side of the street, close enough to see and hear and marvel, is a young couple. European-looking from their clothes and demeanour, but who knows? They are talking to a local security guard and indicating that they want to rent a motorbike.

Out comes the guard’s hand-phone, and within seconds, two locals zoom up with a bike and negotiations commence. In response to their enquiry about her license, she imperiously waves them off with a “yayayayaya, I have licence. I KNOW how to ride!”

So she clambers on, has to be shown how to start it, how to raise the kick stand, where the brakes are and all the rest of the stuff that she says she already ‘knows’. Then she declares “I try it first” She can’t get the bike to move, then leaps it forward, has no idea how to turn it, freezes, and crashes into the stone wall on the other side of the street. Instead of prudently getting off, she suddenly revs the thing, which naturally tries to climb the wall.

By the time the bike owner has bounded the three metres needed to rescue her, and his bike, she is already off it and complaining vociferously. “This go-fast thing here,” she says, pointing to the twist-grip throttle, “is installed the wrong way round!”

The bike owner is befuddled, and his permanent ‘for customers’ smile is fraying around the edges. She keeps complaining: “To go forward, this thing should be twisted FORWARD, not backwards! Why is yours wrong?” Yep, I can see she has vast experience with motorbikes.

The owner takes the bike, his outrider jumps on and they begin to leave. “I’ll take it,” says the young lady. The bike owner’s smile is by now a fixed rictus with all the warmth of a crocodile. “No.” he says over his shoulder. “Not available now,” and he roars off with the subtlest of eye-rolls.

She stands, arms akimbo, staring after him. “What the hell is wrong with these people?” she mutters to her companion.

Nothing, lady. Nothing at all. He actually just saved you from death or injury on Bali’s roads. Be grateful.

by Vyt Karazija

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