Coffee plantations - and an accident!
Trip Start Sep 24, 2009
69Trip End Apr 30, 2010
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Where I stayed
Sea Breeze Bungalows
High up in the hills, we stopped at a boutique-style coffee restaurant where they grew, roasted, ground, brewed and sold their own coffee. The roasted the coffee beans by placing them in a metal cylinder over a fire and having someone sit there for an hour and half manually turning the roaster round and round over the fire. Once cooled, the beans were placed in a small concrete pit and someone pounded them with a wooden pole until they are superfine. Then, of course, we come along and drink the freshly brewed coffee in about 10 minutes! It was excellent coffee and obviously very fresh. I treated myself to a piece of Black Forest Cake to go with the coffee – but it ended up being so huge, I had to give Alan half to eat
We had a bit of fun stopping in one of the villages up in the hills and just wandered around for awhile talking to the locals. I don't think too many tourists stop in this area so were treated almost like celebrities with people calling out or waving to us, asking us where we were going, etc – and some just wanted to have their photos taken, getting a kick out of seeing themselves in the digital playback.
It was a really pleasant drive as traffic in northern Bali is much lighter, especially on the back roads. And for some reason, the roads seem to be better marked making navigation just that much easier.
There isn’t much to say about Lovina itself other than that it’s a touristy beach town on the Northern Coast of Bali with more local sellers giving us sad stories about why we should buy their stuff. It’s also bloody hot! We got there late in the afternoon and left first thing in the morning, and didn’t really do anything noteworthy while there.
We were keen to escape the heat of Lovina, and getting weary of travelling these bumpy roads in our tin-can-on-wheels that lacks any sort of suspension, we wanted to get the travelling part of our day out of the way! Because of the generally bad road conditions we are lucky to ever travel over 40km/hour so driving 80kms can end up taking hours!
We headed out, with the aim of following the coastal road from the north around to the east. About 10kms out of Lovina, we came to Singaraja, the second largest city in Bali. We were somehow diverted to a side road which took us off the main road that we wanted to be on.
Now you have to understand what it’s like driving on these roads. They are narrow and don’t have marked lanes. There are people, dogs and chickens walking down the roads, people on motorbikes overtaking you on both sides, and often coming towards you on the wrong side of the road. There are piles of sand and gravel on the edge of the road, and numerous potholes. And kids playing in the street. It takes full concentration for the driver to just keep an eye on where they are going, while the passenger needs to keep an eye out for the signs, read the maps, and give directions.
Driving down this side road not much faster than 20-25kms, a young girl suddenly ran out, without looking, in front of the car. Alan slammed on the brakes immediately and I jumped out to run around the front, expecting the worst. Her shoe (jandal) was caught under the tire and her big toe was a bit grazed – but there was still the obvious concern that her foot could have been broken.
People came out from all directions and someone called her father. Now it’s really hard to know what to do in these circumstances. Everyone is yabbering away and I couldn’t understand much of what was being said. I explained to a few people what happened (for what it was worth) essentially trying to establish that we were not at fault
I had read somewhere that that the best thing to do if involved in an accident or get waved down by a policeman at an intersection (where they linger, just waiting for tourists to break traffic rules) is to do a runner. Why? Because it doesn’t matter what happened, you, the tourist, will be at fault and be expected to pay large amounts of money to cover damages and anything else that they can think of.
Well, doing a runner just didn’t seem the right thing to do, even though it wasn’t our fault, and there was absolutely nothing that we could have done to avoid hitting her. There was one man (an 'uncle’) who took charge and told us to follow the convoy to the hospital. When I asked why we needed to go to the hospital, he stated ‘To pay the bill’. Of course.
Don’t get me wrong – we did want to know that the girl was OK, and we were fine about contributing to costs, but this had the potential to become a real problem for us. We followed them to the hospital and as Alan drove, I quickly transferred a small amount of money out of one wallet into a spare one and purposely left out any EFT-Pos and credit cards
I dreaded the thought of sitting for hours in a horrible and stuffy sitting room at some grotty hospital. Fortunately, the girl was seen to immediately (and the hospital wasn’t too bad). When the doctor finished examining her, I pulled the doctor aside, and explained to him how the accident happened, then asked what the diagnosis was. (Speaking Indonesian paid off big time during this incident!) He explained that nothing was broken, and it was just a few scrapes that needed to be cleaned up and bandaged.
At this point, knowing that she was basically OK, I explained very politely (with my fingers crossed behind my back) to the doctor and the family that we were heading back to Kuta as we had a plane to catch later in the day and we were not able to wait for too long at the hospital. No problem – they were able to very quickly generate a bill – for approx NZD$75. This was more expensive that a doctor’s visit in NZ, for goodness sakes.
So, with my fingers still crossed behind my back, I explained that 1) we were unable to pay this full amount as we didn’t have this money with us, and 2) that even though the accident was NOT our fault, we were happy to contribute something towards expenses but that we expected the family to pay some of the bill as well
The very lovely and helpful hospital administrator listened to my points, and also listened to the father who said that HE had no money. (I doubted this as he was dressed in some sort of government uniform, so he wasn’t exactly the worst paid man in town). The administrator I think was actually on our side about this and talked at length with the father before recalculating the bill down to $23.
Excellent - but there was still a principle involved – i.e. it wasn’t our fault, the girl ran in front without looking, and the family should take some responsibility too. I opened up the ‘spare’ wallet, and counted out ‘all the money we had’ – and even shook out the coins. We had enough to pay 2/3 of the bill. They suggested we go to an ATM to get the rest – but I explained (fingers still crossed) that our ATM card was left behind in the safety deposit box at our hotel in Kuta along with the rest of our money. So the rest of the bill was up to the father. He reluctantly pulled out his wallet (stuffed full of money, I noticed), and paid the balance.
Everything ended on a friendly note, we all shook hands, we apologized again, gave the girl a little NZ coin purse that we had brought as gifts and headed on our away. We were very fortunate that everything turned out OK, that the girl’s injuries weren’t worse and that they didn’t decide to get the police involved. What galled me at the end, though, was when the ‘uncle’ reminded us to be careful on the roads. I very politely asked him to remind his children to be careful when playing on the roads.
Lesson learned yet again that showing respect and politeness goes a long way over here.