Feb 10, 2011

Guest House Friendships

One of the best things about travelling is the other travellers that you meet and if you’re lucky, often the most obvious place that you make friends is at the guest house/hostel/pension which you are staying at. 

Over our history of travelling, we have met some great people this way, many of whom we still stay in touch with and a few others still whom we call good friends.  We often have found that making friends while you are travelling is much easier than making new friends at home. This is probably due to the fact that everyone is out of their own comfort zone,have an obvious common interest of the place that you are in, and a love of travel and all that it brings.

Teddy and Coca's New Dresses
We have been fortunate that while in Sanur (Bali), we have met a great bunch of people at our guest house and the girls have really enjoyed having the stability of familiar faces that great them whenever we come ‘home’.  There’s Graham, the retired policeman from Australia, and his wife Denise, who travel here for 2 mo every year for the past 7yrs; Graham’s friends Marlene and Teresa Queensland, Australia; Maddie, the Indonesian from Jakarta who has her own business making jewellery and splits her time between the two places; and the girl from Darwin who’s been teaching English here for the past year.  (The funny thing though about these ‘friends’ is that often you don’t even know their names, yet somehow that’s hardly important.) Occasionally the girls even receive little gifts like food from Maddie and Graham and a new outfit each for their teddies from Teresa.  And Jim and I enjoy the adult company too as we fall into a kind of day to day ‘routine’ that can include following up on our new neighbours’ plans/events of the day.  

An added bonus of these new friendships is that they often can be the best sources of travel information.  In this case, as many of our new friends are longtime visitors to Bali, we got the scoop on the best places to eat (the Night Market), how much to pay for a massage on the beach ($50,000 IDR), where to rent the car, etc.  

And while we have spent a nice relaxing 13 nights in Sanur and finding our travel legs again, we started getting recommendations about other places on the island that peaked our curiosity.  At first, we thought we would just choose 1 or 2 of them to visit for a few days at a time as travelling to all with the girls in tow seemed impractical given the distances if relying just on public transport options. 

Many visitors to Bali tend to hire a car and driver for the day to do a quick ‘island tour’ because of this.  This option would generally set you back $40-50 US/day, but only gives you a taste of what the island has to offer.  We prefer to have the option to stay a bit longer in places if they are interesting.

Then one of our new ‘friends’ suggested that we rent a car.  Although we have rented scooters during our travels in the past, we had never considered renting anything during this trip, especially in Bali, where we’ve heard many stories about corrupt police targeting tourists in scooters to add to their ‘Christmas fund’.  Yet suddenly, this suggestion seemed to make a lot of sense and would give us the ability to move around more freely and to see more of the island.

Our New Wheels!
So for about $13 USD/day we have rented a little 1- litre Suzuki ‘Karimun’, complete with insurance, air con, central locking, a tape deck and even power steering. We’ve got it for 11 days.  It’s surprisingly easy to drive, according to Jim, which is an added bonus on the chaotic roads here where 3 lanes of traffic exist yet only 2 are actually marked on the asphalt! Add to that are the zillion scooters, which Jim describes as ‘mosquitoes which just appear and disappear out of nowhere’ which you need to try to share the road with yet avoid hitting or being hit by.  He says he now knows how, as a motorcycle rider himself and prone to a similar ‘mosquitoe-like’ riding style, he must seem to the others on the road!  Hopefully he’ll remember this experience by the time we get home, but somehow I doubt it!

Our plans are to head southeast, to a village called Sengkidu, which Maisy recommended to us.  It’s just outside of Candidasa, which we’ve heard good things about, namely being a good destination for us as a family with young children travelling on a budget.  We plan to spend 5 days in this region, eventually heading north to Tirta  Gangga and Amed, before heading over to Ubud.

Some strange things we see on the road!
Have any of you had any good experiences with ‘guest house friendships’?  What about with driving in an Asian country?  We’ll update you on our driving experiences later!


  1. Awesome... Great post. It's so awesome that you guys are doing this. Isn't it amazing how friendly people can be while traveling. When I went to Austrailia for a few montnths years ago I must have been given over 20 addresses & phone numbers while having a plane party with the Ausies & Kiwi's.
    Have a happy, safe & fun filled trip while building memories of a lifetime.
    Cheers, Graham

  2. Awesome! Good luck driving in Bali! I'm always amazed how locals can find their way around the streets without any signs, so am interested to hear how you guys will fare! Have a great time!

  3. Saw this post, and it makes me laugh. So much fun on the road here in Jakarta, too.