The trip from the Denpasar Airport to Ubud #BaliDisey

I had booked a transfer from Denpasar airport to my hotel in Ubud, but I couldn’t see my name when I exited customs. I panicked slowly, knowing that it was probably a Bali time thing—probably similar to India—and I was taken to the airport information desk by a man in his early 50s wearing a red Hawaiian shirt and a broad smile (he said he worked for the airport) where they made an announcement. ‘If your ride doesn’t come miss, maybe I take you to Ubud?’ I replied that I was sure they would be here, and that I would make a phone call. It was dark and I didn’t fancy taking a taxi if I didn’t have to.

I checked the paperwork, and it turned out that I was to look for the hotel sign, not my name. And sure enough, there was my driver, carrying a sign with the hotel’s logo. He was about my height, maybe a little shorter and was dressed in the Sens hotel uniform. His hair was short and well cut, his nose small and his eyes dark and lively. He told me his name was Made (pronounced Mah-dee, which I later found out indicates where he is in the order of siblings), and he commandeered the baggage trolley and ushered me efficiently out of the airport to the car, where I was given a moist towel up freshen up, and a small bottle of water. ‘I was looking for you,’ he said. ‘I see you walk past, twice.’

‘I was looking for my name,’ I replied. ‘You did your job, I didn’t do mine. I’ll tell the hotel that.’

He chuckled. ‘Good, good.’

He stowed my bags in the car, and indicated that I sit up the front with him. ‘Sure,’ I said. ‘No problem.’

I was sitting up the front for a reason, though. He started his sales pitch almost straight away, except I didn’t know it was a pitch. He would take me to place, he said, if I needed a driver. He had a laminated map of Bali with pictures of tourist locations. ‘Tomorrow I will take you to see beautiful sunset,’ he said pointing to a picture that said Tanah Lot.

‘Sure,’ I said, finally catching on. ‘How much?’

‘Four hundred thousand rupees.’

I did some quick math. Forty Australian dollars. Bargain.

‘Ok,’ I said. ‘Pick me up at three.”

Now that the deal had been done, we commenced small talk. He told me he was thirty seven and divorced. ‘The babies did not come, so break. Two years,’ he said. He told me he was 37, from Kintamini and had been in Ubud for two years working for the hotel as a driver. He pointed out landmarks as we drove to Ubud, but it was dark and I couldn’t see much. We chatted, and while I found him a little hard to understand (I think I picked up about 60-70% of what he said) we still managed to have a reasonable conversation on the hour or so drive, which included the possibility of him picking me up and taking me out on his motor bike. Sure, I said. Why the hell not? He seemed trustworthy, and I picked up a certain kindness about him.

We arrived at the Sens Hotel and I checked in and said see you tomorrow to Made. The hotel is new and beautiful, the staff friendly and helpful. I made my way up to my room, the porter bringing my bags. My room was large, spacious and well appointed. It was gorgeous. I stowed my stuff, showered, climbed into bed with a glass of wine, exhausted but content.

My Bali adventure has begun.

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