Bali is dominated by what we started calling the Local Taxi Mafia. Local guys with mopeds or cars were constantly offering you a ride, and you had to negotiate the price depending on the distance, mood of the driver, time of day, and how good your bargaining skills were. There were signs everywhere forbidding Uber and even metered taxis. (I know Uber is far from innocent as a company, but there have been several cases of the local taxi mafia dragging Uber drivers out of their car and beating them.)
In an otherwise peaceful and friendly place, this has been a frustration… It seemed like I was constantly offered rides when I didn’t need them, but couldn’t find anyone when I did. I finally decided to rent my own scooter, as many of our other roomies did.
I had never driven a scooter before. I watched several You Tube videos about it, practiced a bit in the driveway of Roam and a nearby empty parking lot, and then figured I would just go slow and try to avoid the busiest parts of town. (The German was understandably nervous about this plan.)
I spent the first day driving around with my turn signal on the entire time, but otherwise made it to the grocery store and back without incident.
At this point in our travels, driving/walking on the left feels more natural, so the “driving” part was pretty easy, but traffic certainly took some getting used to… there were heaps of scooters on the road but no traffic signals or stop signs. Essentially, you just “go with the flow” (like a school of fish) and hug the left as much as possible. (People are often driving down the middle of the road to avoid parked cars.) I mainly wanted the scooter so I could get to a 9am Zumba class across town, which meant dealing with a lot more traffic than I would like but I managed to handle it several times without incident.
One day I decided to take the bike on a longer drive, out to a jewelry workshop about 3.5 miles/25 minutes away. I was feeling more comfortable, and figured I could just take it slow and pull over regularly when I needed to check directions.
It started off well… there were far fewer people on the road than in central Ubud and the countryside was lovely. However, just a few minutes away from my destination, I lost control around a sharp corner as someone was passing me and slammed into a wall, landing in a ditch with the scooter on top of me.
There was so much blood that I immediately knew I was about to violate our cardinal rule of the trip: no hospital visits.
I texted the single word “help” to The German as several locals came rushing to my aid. They pulled me and the moped out of the ditch and got me a bunch of kleenex to try and stop the bleeding. At one point, one of them removed my prescription sunglasses from my face – the frames were intact but both lenses were missing. After a lot of frantic discussion, they moved the moped into a nearby driveway and then threw me in a car to rush me to a local clinic.
Neither my rescuers or the nurse spoke English, but I could tell from their conversation and gestures that it was bad. She went to work cleaning me up and kept saying “hospital” while the guys tried to help in any way they could. They kept trying get me to call someone, so they were relieved when I showed them that The German was making his way towards me on Find My Friends.
Just as the nurse was applying the last bandage, The German arrived. He quickly paid the bill ($3) and got directions to the nearest hospital. He tried offering money to the guys who rescued me but they refused to accept it. I was so incredibly grateful for their help.
We rushed to the Ubud hospital as I struggled to stay conscious. I was wearing a helmet when I crashed, but my head was bleeding from somewhere and the site of the deep gash in my knee was making me woozy.
At the hospital, they started to work on a more thorough cleaning but they soon discovered their x-ray was in an error state and would take an hour to fix. (Huh?) They recommended we switch to a different hospital rather than wait. The environment there was pretty chaotic – a screaming child, wailing adults, and the 7 beds were all full so The German ran into the street to negotiate another taxi.
Moving was a challenge and the adrenaline was starting to wear off so I was becoming painfully aware of just how banged up I was. It was an agonizing 15 min drive, but definitely worth it – Kasah Ibu Hospital had been constructed in the last year and had very modern equipment, plus I was the only patient in the ER.
They quickly started an IV with painkillers and fluids as they prepared for x-rays. Dr. Dyah spoke perfect English and had a very professional team, lifting me from a gurney to various tables for a CT scan and multiple x-rays. (I suspect they were excited to have a chance to use some of the equipment- there was a lot of staff in attendance.)
They administered antibiotics and gave me a tetanus booster (eve though I already had one in the past few years) since the wounds were so dirty. Both my knee and elbow were so deeply cut that the bone was exposed. I was going to need a surgeon.
The x-rays showed I had a fractured rib and a small fracture in my elbow, but my knee wasn’t broken and surprisingly, neither was my nose. I had quite a lot of road rash on my legs and a cut on my forehead, but the scans didn’t show any internal bleeding so they started surgery prep at 9pm.
I was anxious, but everyone seemed very competent and the facilities were modern and clean. I woke up around 2am with The German by my side, who had been answering my same 4 questions in a loop as I was regaining consciousness.
Around 3am I was transferred to a room. We got a complimentary upgrade to an “Executive” room, which wasn’t nearly as nice as some hotel upgrades we have received, but it had a second bed for The German, so that’s all that mattered.
All of the staff did their best to communicate in English (though it was a challenge at times). They always made sure I was comfortable, though, and modestly covered when there were male workers around. They apologized each time before touching me (“sorry”) which was very sweet and we loved how they always referred to each other as “friends”: “my friend will bring you pain killer” or “my friend would like to change the sheets”.
The kindest of them all was the one I thought of as “Nurse Pee Pee”. (She was the night shift and always inquiring about my bathroom needs. )
The surgeon wanted me to stay at least one more night so I could continue with the IV cocktail of fluids, pain killers and antibiotics. Moving was painful so I couldn’t really argue with the logic of staying in the mechanical hospital bed.
The German spent the long, boring day adjusting my pillows, talking to insurance people, and keeping our local pals updated. The food at the hospital was some of the worst I have had on this whole trip so he would periodically run out for coconut water and other treats. He also managed to get the guy who rented me the scooter to go collect it. (It was 20 minutes outside of Ubud in a random driveway, so no easy task… The German assured him I wouldn’t be needing it again.) I couldn’t imagine dealing with all of this without him – he has been an amazing caretaker.
The second night was rough as they tried to reduce my pain killers but my broken rib made it hard to sleep. We awoke just before the 6.4 earthquake commenced, shaking the building for 20 seconds. Nurse Pee Pee came running in and said we needed to go down 4 flights of stairs to safety, which frankly, seemed impossible given my mobility. By time I made it to the hallway, the tremors subsided so we stayed put. The building definitely handled it well – the only evidence of the quake was the crooked paintings on the wall. (Even the fake flowers on the table didn’t fall over.)
They switched me to oral pain killers, re-dressed all of my wounds, and we collectively decided I should stay one more night. Between the wounds on my knees and right elbow, the broken rib, the IV in my left arm and arm soreness from the Zumba Toning class I did Monday morning, it was hard to transition between sitting and standing and I needed to be more mobile before I could go.
The German arranged for Dr. Dyah to pay us another visit. Her English was by far the best and she was able to answer all of my questions about after care. Aside from all of her helpful medical tips, she also told us we encountered the largest earthquake in a decade and apparently people ran into the streets screaming…. what an exciting couple of days!
The next morning I was determined to leave the hospital. Moving was still a challenge and laughing really hurt but I desperately wanted the IV out of my arm and access to better food. After a final inspection from the surgeon, they changed all my bandages to “waterproof” and started the discharge process!
Amazingly the grand total came to 10,000,000 less than their original estimate:
That works out to be less than $5,000 (USD), which is certainly a fraction of what that would have cost in the US.
I am now happily back at Roam, recovering in our room with easy access to fresh smoothies, lots of friendly faces, and plenty of pain killers. Though I am technically cleared to fly, I am still struggling to get in and out of bed and walking around at the pace of a zombie so I can’t fathom dealing with an airport right now. We will certainly stay put for a few more days while I recover.