Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bali - Driver or Tour Guide?

Although Bali is an island, you would need to either hire a driver and a car or join a tour if you want to venture beyond your hotel and visit the different districts. We've tried both. Go for the driver option!

When we first went to Bali, part of the package were complimentary airport pick-up and a half-day Ubud tour conducted by the same tour company. We did not have a pleasant experience. The pick-up did not arrive (apparently there was a mix-up regarding our arrival time) and all we saw of Ubud were 1 woodcarving shop, 1 batik shop, 1 art gallery and 1 silversmith shop). The reason is that the tour guide gets a commission from these shops. When we wanted to add a Kecak dance to the itinerary, they charged us more than double the price of the ticket!

This time round, I opted to hire a driver and a car. The tour agencies also provide driver and car hire services. However, a friend recommended Ma-de Murtika (Pronounced as "Ma-Day") to me. She had used his services and found him to be reliable and trustworthy. I have to agree. I contacted him on his mobile (+62 081 23997613) and was glad that he was free the following day to drive me around.

Ma-de was waiting at the hotel lobby for me before our pre-arranged pick-up time. Based on tour brochures picked up at the airport, I had already decided where I wanted to go - Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Barong Dance, Ubud & Kintamani Volcano. I had a wonderful time chatting with him during the journey which gave me a chance to practice my Bahasa, which was rather rusty. (He can also speak some English, German and Japanese). I also had a glimpse of life in Bali as he shared about Balinese culture and history.

What I liked about Ma-de:
1) He did not attempt to persuade me to go to any shops for commissions
2) He did not try to hit me with extra charges (we had agreed on a fixed price for a day's services, which included petrol and parking charges).
3) He also agreed to extend to after dinner without extra charges (pre-agreed). Some drivers charge extra after 5.30pm.
4) I can decide my own itinerary!
5) He took me to the best place for Babi Guling (Roast Suckling Pig) in Ubud (watch out for this on my next post).

Meals and entrance fees were on my own account. I also gave him a tip at the end of the journey. I'm glad I opted to hire a driver as I experienced the "real Ubud" this trip instead of just going to designated shops.

BTW, "Ma-de" is a very common name in Bali. It means 2nd child in the family. So, usually, you would use the full name when calling a person.


Sweet Jasmine said...

Oh..I'm heading to Kuta this time.Hope can get a good tour package. Will be on our own for a day or two...

Kess & Her Mama said...

If you can, spend 1 day going out of Kuta. Ubud and Kintamani is lovely.

kegler747 said...

Hello from the Philippines! I hope you don't mind if I ask you the price you paid for the whole day taxi tour with Made.

Kess & Her Mama said...

Hi Kegler747, It kind of slipped my mind. But if I remember correctly, it was around Rupiah 450,000 before tip. You can email Made at to check with him.

Kess & Her Mama said...

Kegler747, Sorry. It's Rupiah400,000.

Anne said...

Hi! I came across your blog and I found the information about Bali is very useful!

I will be traveling to Bali soon. I am wondering that if Ma-de is not available, where else can I get a good driver like him?

hear from you soon. Cheers!


Kess And Her Mama said...

Hi Anne, I'm glad you found the Bali posts useful. You could check out the Travel Forum on Frommers. I recall there were a couple of recommendations for drivers from people who've used these drivers before. Enjoy your trip to Bali.

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