Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
Roads in Lombok are often very rough but
traffic is lighter than Bali.
Avoid driving at night or at dusk. Many
bicycles, carts and horse-drawn vehicles do
not have proper lights, and street lighting
is limited.
Use your horn to warn anything in front
that you're there, especially if you're
about to overtake.
increased vehicle ownership in Bali, ojek are
becoming increasingly less common. They're
OK on quiet country roads, but a high-risk
option in the big towns. You will find them in
remote places like Nusa Lembongan and Nusa
Penida. Ojek are more common on Lombok.
Fares are negotiable, but about 8000Rp for
5km is fairly standard.
fees can be over the odds (all the more reason
to tip Bali Taxi drivers about 10%).
Taxis can be annoying with their constant
honking to attract patrons. And men, espe-
cially single men, will find that some taxi
drivers may promote a 'complete massage' at a
'spa'. Drivers will enthusiastically pantomime
some of the activities that this entails. At the
very least, insist that they keep their hands
on the wheel.
Drive on the left side of the road,
although it's often a case of driving on
whatever side of the road is available.
You can hitchhike in Bali and on Lombok,
but it's not a very useful option for getting
around, as public transport is so cheap and
frequent and private vehicles are often full.
Bear in mind, also, that hitching is never
entirely safe in any country. Travellers who
decide to hitch should understand that they are
taking a small but potentially serious risk.
Dokar & Cidomo
Small dokar (pony carts) still provide local
transport in some remote areas, and even in
areas of Denpasar, but they're uncommon,
extremely slow and are not particularly cheap.
Prices start at 4000Rp per person for a short
trip, but are negotiable, depending on demand,
number of passengers, nearby competition,
and your bargaining skills. The tourist price
can be high if the driver thinks the tourist will
pay big-time for the novelty value.
The pony cart used on Lombok is known
as a cidomo - a contraction of cika (a tradi-
tional handcart), dokar and mobil (because
car wheels and tyres are used). They are often
brightly coloured and the horses decorated
with coloured tassels and jingling bells. A
typical cidomo has a narrow bench seat on
either side. The ponies appear to some visi-
tors to be heavily laden and harshly treated,
but they are usually looked after reasonably
well, if only because the owners depend on
them for their livelihood. Cidomo are a very
popular form of transport in many parts of
Lombok, and often go to places that bemo
don't, won't or can't.
Lombok fares are not set by the government.
The price will always depend on demand, the
number of passengers, the destination and
your negotiating skills - maybe 2000Rp to
4000Rp per passenger for a short trip.
Police will stop drivers on some very slender
pretexts, and it's fair to say that they're not
motivated by a desire to enhance road safety.
If a cop sees your front wheel half an inch
over the faded line at a stop sign, if the chin-
strap of your helmet isn't fastened, or if you
don't observe one of the ever changing and
poorly signposted one-way traffic restrictions,
you may be waved down. They also do spot
checks of licences and vehicle registrations,
especially before major holiday periods. It's
not uncommon to see cops stopping a line of
visitors on motorcycles while locals fly past
sans helmets.
The cop will ask to see your licence and
the vehicle's registration papers, and he will
also tell you what a serious offence you've
committed. He may start talking about court
appearances, heavy fines and long delays.
Stay cool and don't argue. Don't offer him
a bribe. Eventually he'll suggest that you can
pay him some amount of money to deal with
the matter. If it's a very large amount, tell
him politely that you don't have that much.
These matters can be settled for something
between 10,000Rp and 60,000Rp; although it
will be more like 100,000Rp if you don't have
an IDP or if you argue. Always make sure
you have the correct papers, and don't have
too much visible cash in your wallet. If things
deteriorate, ask for the cop's name and talk
about contacting your consulate.
Metered taxis are common in South Bali
and Denpasar. They are essential for getting
around Kuta and Seminyak, where you can
easily flag one down. Elsewhere, they're often
a lot less hassle than haggling with bemo jock-
eys and charter drivers.
The usual rate for a taxi is 5000Rp flag fall
and 2000Rp per kilometre, but the rate is
higher in the evening. If you phone for a taxi,
the minimum charge is 10,000Rp. Any driver
that claims meter problems or who won't use
it should be avoided.
The most reputable taxi agency is Bali Taxi
There are plenty of bemo and taxis around
Mataram and Senggigi. In Lombok, Lombok
Taksi (
0370-627000) , also owned by the Blue-
bird Group, always use the meter without
you having to ask; they are the best choice.
The only place where you would need to ne-
gotiate a taxi fare is if you get in a taxi at the
harbour at Bangsal (but not on the main road
in Pemenang). See the boxed text, p299 for
more details.
Many travellers end up taking one or two
organised tours because it can be such a quick
and convenient way to visit a few places in
Bali, especially where public transport is lim-
ited (eg Pura Besakih) or nonexistent (eg Ulu
Watu after sunset). All sorts of tours are avail-
able from the tourist centres - the top-end
hotels can arrange expensive day tours for
their guests, while tour companies along the
main streets in the tourist centres advertise
cheaper trips for those on a budget.
0361-701111) , which uses distinctive blue ve-
hicles with the words 'Bluebird Group' over the
windshield. Drivers speak reasonable English,
won't offer you illicit opportunities and use the
meter at all times. There's even a number to
call with complaints (
After Bali Taxi, standards decline rapidly.
Some are acceptable, although you may have a
hassle getting the driver to use the meter after
dark. Others may claim that their meters are
often 'broken' or nonexistent, and negotiated
Travelling by sea between Lombok and Labuanbajo is a popular way to get to Flores, as you
get to see far more of the region's spectacular coastline and dodge some seriously lengthy
bus journeys and nonentity towns. Typical itineraries from Lombok take in snorkelling at Pulau
Satonda off the coast of Sumbawa, a dragon-spotting hike in Komodo and other stops for swim-
ming and partying along the way. From Labuanbajo, it's a similar story, but usually with stops
at Rinca and Pulau Moyo.
However, be aware that this kind of trip is no luxury cruise - a lot depends on the boat, the
crew and your fellow travellers, who you are stuck with for the duration. Some shifty operators
have reneged on 'all-inclusive' agreements en route, and others operate decrepit old tugs without
life jackets or radio. The seas in this part of Indonesia can be extremely hazardous, especially
during rainy season when trips can be cancelled - and this journey is certainly not one to embark
upon with some dodgy set-up.
Given these safety concerns, the well-organised tours on decent boats run by Perama (see
Road Rules
Visiting drivers commonly complain about
crazy Balinese drivers, but often it's because
the visitors don't understand the local con-
ventions of road use. The following rules are
very useful.
Watch your front - it's your responsibil-
ity to avoid anything that gets in front of
your vehicle. A car, motorcycle or any-
thing else pulling out in front of you, in
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