I arrived in Bali on February 7th, in the middle of the rainy season. My first few weeks were hot, humid and sticky and sometimes I just didn’t know what to do with myself because of the heat. The only good thing about that time of year was the low volume of tourists. Don’t get me wrong, there were still tourists around, just not so many as now.
With the high season on the threshold, the streets are filling up with traffic. Rows of big busses on the main streets, guys with their surfboards strapped to their motorbike weaving through the traffic and motor transport guys driving the tourists around. The beaches are getting more crowded together with the restaurants. Slowly the tourists are taking over Bali.
There is just one thing that I don’t seem to understand. Bali has been a tourist island for many, many years now. Each year the amount of foreign travellers arriving in Bali grows and the roads are becoming more and more crowded. How is it possible that there are still so many traffic jams in and around Kuta when Bali has so many years of experience with tourists, high seasons and traffic jams? Well, I think I found my answer to that today, when I was driving back to Kuta from Sanur.
There is this one big round about in Kuta where Sunset road, the Nusa Dua by pass and the road to Sanur come together. It is one big fury of cars, trucks, motorbikes and busses trying to get their right exit. It has traffic lights to control the traffic and to create some order in the chaos. Normally the traffic lights work fine and the traffic passes the round about without any problems. Today however, for some unknown reason, the police decided to step in and guide the traffic themselves. They stood there in the middle of the road, talking to each other on walky talkies, bossing the traffic around. What a nightmare. As it was our turn to go on the round about, one of the police officers decided the Nusa Dua by pass could go as well. It was one big mess of people honking their horns, shouting, near accidents, confusion, people going left, right, straight ahead and almost through each other.
This is not the first time that I have seen police taking over the work of traffic lights. I mean, there are not a lot of traffic lights around, but the ones that are there work fine and in general everybody listens to them. The problem arises as soon as the police step in and take over. Alright, maybe this is not the reason for the traffic jams, but I was just baffled by this situation today. Not only is it dangerous and confusing for the local people, I can only imagine being a freshly arrived tourist driving around in that mess!
Beep Beep! Tourist on the road!