When I arrived alone in Bali, Villa Naga Maya had arranged for a driver to pick me up from the airport. The young man was very personable and helpful so I decided I’d probably use him the entire time I was there. But in an “only in Bali” type situation, about a week later I’d come back from Ubud (having taken the Perama tourist bus to save money) only to find my driver’s office not only abandoned, but already being converted into an art gallery. And I’d only been gone two days! I inquired what happened and a guy standing nearby the shop whispered “bankrupt.”
The problem was, that night I needed to go to the airport to pick up my fiancé and I was feeling panicky. Now I didn’t have anyone I could trust to get me there and do so for a fair price. I hate to haggle, but I knew it was going to be necessary. The “bankrupt” guy said he had friends who could help, so I followed him to a building not too far away. I explained the situation and the owner told me 150,000 rupiah. No f$#@ing way, that’s like $15 and is about what I paid my first driver for a 1/2 day trip to Dreamland and Uluwatu. When I protested and tried to do my haggling thing the guy said, “Okay, 250,000.” That made me so angry, I left in a huff (which you shouldn’t really do in Bali).
Over lunch I decided maybe I should just puss out and take a cab. Having recently endured some negative transportation issues already in Ubud, I wasn’t feeling particularly keen to track down another driver. But on my way back to the villa, I decided to attempt to find a new driver just once more and if it didn’t work, at least I’d know I’d not given up so easily. And thank god I didn’t because that’s when I found Gusdek, a fantastic driver who ended up being someone I could always count on. And best of all, he was always fair with his pricing.
On the way to the airport and while waiting for my fiancé’s plane to arrive, we had a lot of time to talk. Like my fiance and I, Gus was forty and his wife was in her early thirties. Also like us, they’d also been together for many years before just recently getting married. He had a really easygoing personality, but also a seriousness that made you trust him quickly.
During my remaining three weeks, anytime I needed a driver I knew just where to look. He took us up to Ubud, stopping so we could visit many of the craft villages along the way. He even took us to a stonemason friend of his so my fiancé could buy a wicked cool Garuda statue. And the one time he wasn’t available due to a family emergency, he found two totally fun young guys to drive me and my Singapore friend around the island. I had him waking up early, driving far distances and stopping at any and every shop that caught my fancy and he was always happy to oblige.
It’s so nice when you’re far from home and feeling a little lost and vulnerable to find someone that you not only can count on, but that you can also consider a friend.
So, if you’re in need of a fantastic driver in Bali who speaks very good English and who is knowledgeable about the entire island, you can’t go wrong with Gus!
Travel Betty Basics
Ida Bagus Sumardika (aka Gusdek)
Office: Kasturi Car and Motor Bike Rental and Tour Service
Pura Bagus Taruna St. No. 516X (near the Kusnadi Hotel)
Legian, Kuta, Bali
Hand Phone: 081 33876 1498
If he’s booked, I’d also highly recommend Putu and Agus who were the drivers who filled in for Gusdek and took us all around the island. They’ll have you laughing your ass off! And Agus can teach you how to surf. They call themselves the Nakula Boys and you can get in touch with Putu by calling his hand phone: 081 91627.
Photo courtesy of Travel Betty