Relief! There’s no greater feeling of finally being on land after travelling for over twenty-five hours to get to Bali. After what felt like an eternity to get through immigration, we finally manage to leave the airport. Once we pass the departure gate, dozens of drivers bombard us, asking us where we are going. Suddenly, the repressed feelings of my hatred for taxis start flooding through my veins.
Blue Bird Taxi Is The Only Cab We Will Take In Bali
Because we hate getting ripped off when travelling, we researched that Blue Bird Taxi is the only way to go in Bali. Blue Bird Taxis have an excellent reputation for being honest and not scamming customers in Bali. The problem was that another cab company is the only taxi you can take at the arrivals gate at the airport. So, to catch a Blue Bird taxi, you gotta make your way up to the departures area and hail a Blue Bird Taxi. The only way to do this is to flag one that has dropped off a customer at the airport. Of course, this is precisely the first thing that my sleep deprived body wants to deal with upon landing in Bali.
After some craziness of one driver pretending to be Blue Bird Taxi and us dragging our luggage out of the cab, (his car was blue with a bird symbol!), we finally got into the right taxi. Except for one small problem; our taxi was wedged between two large buses and could not move from its spot! We waited for a good 30 minutes before the buses finally moved, and we were able to leave the airport. Ah, welcome to Bali.
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Traffic moves like a turtle in Bali, even in Blue Bird Taxis
Traffic is so bad here during rush hour that it’s hard for cars to drive fast. Infrastructure is also terrible, leading to more traffic delays. The driver said it took him 2.5 hours the day before to drive a customer from the airport to Seminyak. For reference, the two locations are only ten kilometers apart.
After realizing the driver is an honest one, I calm down from the hectic cab experience and accept my fate. I’ll be spending the next year throwing myself into the dark unknown, relying on strangers, and Google. Independence is virtually nonexistent when you’re in a new country and cannot speak or read the native language. These experiences remind me to be more empathetic to people who struggle with English in North America.
Why I hate taking taxis in foreign countries
Well, not just foreign countries, even Toronto has some shady cab practices. At least I know where I am going in Canada and can tell when the driver is up to no good. When it comes to an unknown country, I have no frame of reference to use as a benchmark, and I have no idea where I’m going. The feeling of fear and annoyance is especially heightened because I always feel as if there’s some scam going on. And my previous experiences with taxis doesn’t help much either.
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Experience #1: Enroute from Hanoi airport to the hotel
I pre-arranged a taxi from the airport in Hanoi the first time I travelled alone. What I failed to consider was that my flight arrived in Hanoi after 10 pm, which is quite late. It is hell scary to take a taxi as a solo female traveller at night. As I sat in the stranger’s car and freaking myself out, I started to think about some random and useless facts. I read somewhere that crazy people are less likely to kill you if you can connect with them. Somehow, I figured that knowledge would help the situation and started to chat in Vietnamese with the driver. I tried to find out every possible thing about him and tried to relate to his life.
Luckily, I made it to the hotel (which, by the way, the lights were completely off, and there was no one at the reception!) and questioned my paranoia. I felt so silly about overreacting until I heard a story from another traveller that one of their friends got robbed during a prearranged transfer. Apparently, the driver took her to a dark alley where strange men jumped in the car and robbed her of her stuff. The cab driver did nothing and just drove her to the hotel once all her expensive camera gear and money were stolen. Thank goodness it wasn’t anything more! Talk about a powerful reminder that you can never be too careful.
A personal travel tip from this experience: I now always make sure that flights arrive at least two hours before sunset when flying to certain countries. Having to travel from the airport to the city with luggage feels much safer in daylight than at night.
Experience #2: Taking the taxi from the Bangkok airport
My first visit to Bangkok was a hectic one for me when I was planning my transportation to the city. Once I walked out of the airport, a dozen cabbies came up to me vying for my business. After talking to a few drivers who refused to use the meter, I finally found one driver who agreed to my request, got into his car and hoped for the best.
During the whole ride, the cab driver was eerily quiet and emitted this strange vibe. At some point, I noticed the price on his meter was not changing, and I realized something sneaky was about to happen. Of course, his meter was conveniently “broken” and he ended up scamming me for extra money. I’m sure it was only a few dollars, but it just sucks when you get ripped off.
Experience #3: Taking the taxi TO the Bangkok airport (Same trip)
You think I’d learn my lesson by now about Bangkok taxis but no, the second experience didn’t scare me enough. When it was time for me to catch my Toronto flight, I chose to take a taxi. I figured the price to pay far outweighs the benefit because the metro would have taken longer. So I thought.
But no, what I am about to tell you was so crazy that you might think that it came from a movie scene. Despite leaving super early for my flight, I got stuck in traffic for almost two hours. Ok…no big deal because I had buffered extra time. We finally get on the highway and start moving at a decent speed. Right as we were about one kilometer away from the airport, the taxi…broke…down. I kid you not, it ran out of gas…in the middle of a massive highway! It was pitch dark, cars can barely see us, and we have no gas. Great. The irony was that we were SO CLOSE TO THE AIRPORT. So close that I’m willing to bet I could have walked to the airport in fifteen minutes or less!
After spending twenty minutes trying to get someone to stop for us and drive two minutes to get me to the airport, I finally managed to walk through the airport doors. Just over an hour until departure. Seriously.
These experiences are the very reason why I now avoid taking cabs at all cost when travelling to a new country. If there’s public transportation, I’ll take it, even if it means taking two hours to get to my destination. Unfortunately, public transportation is nonexistent in Bali, and we’ll have to rely on cabs.
Arriving in Seminyak Hassle-Free Thanks To Blue Bird Taxi
After two hours of driving ten kilometers in Bali, we finally make it our first hotel at the Four Points by Sheraton in Seminyak. We decided to play it safe with our first accommodation and booked with the SPG group. As I sit down at reception and I take a sip of my welcome drink (soursop juice!), I breathe a sigh of relief. We made it! Safe and sound! Perhaps taking the taxi in Bali won’t be so bad afterall.
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