Adventures in a Karimun

Sometimes life throws you one of those curve balls that you just can’t help but take straight to the face. One fateful day in Bali proved that pretty conclusively. I’d been in Bali for all of a few weeks, and after noticing the total lack of any sort of public transportation I quickly decided that I needed to rent a car.

My boss at the time had a good contact, and a deal was made. Initially I wanted to rent a Suzuki Jimny (Or Katana, either works…) but those weren’t available. Instead I was given the keys to a Suzuki Karimun. A car-sized go-kart, for all intents and purposes. That wasn’t the curve ball though…

That happened when I needed to go pick it up in Ubud. I took a ride down with my boss, who lived there, and after dinner we went off to the rental place to pick up said car. I figured I’d remember the way back, so told my boss he could go home and I’d see him in the morning. After figuring out the streets of Ubud I realised that the car had almost no gas in it. Looking at my trusty little clock I noticed it was 22:10 in the evening.

Usually that’s not a cause for concern, but if you’re in Ubud, it suddenly is. You see, all gas stations close at 22:00 – which meant I had no way, at all, to get gas, and given my limited understanding of Balinese geography I didn’t think I actually had enough to make it back to whatever civilized area would have an open gas station.

Random guy by the side at the street to the rescue! ┬áHe sold bottles of gasoline by the liter, so after feeding the car 5 bottles in a fashion similar to an alcoholic slamming down beers, off I went. And promptly came to the conclusion I had no idea where the hell I was supposed to go. Nothing looked familiar. I did see a sign pointing towards Denpasar – so like any good lost driver, I followed it.

Turns out I missed the sign not 50 meters after pointing me to the left. I took a right. The realisation that I was going into a completely wrong direction set in after having gone up a mountain for about 15 minutes, and thinking “gee, this does not look familiar at all”. Like a stubborn mule I stuck to my plan and kept going in the hopes of running into some sort of major road that would have signs pointing me to my proper destination. No such luck, however…

Having arrived at a T junction in the middle of nowhere, around midnight, I finally decided I should just turn around. A quick look at the meter in the car threw somewhat of a wrench in that plan. The needle was awful close to Empty, and I now, again, didn’t have enough gas to reach civilisation. So what does one do?

Coast that car down hill with the engine off. That’s what you do.

A while – and some crazy discussion with some locals at an intersection – later, I arrived back in Ubud. If only I remembered where my boss lived… I didn’t, so in the end I settled on driving to the nearest 7/11 and parking out front. Got some coffee and snacks, and made myself as comfortable as could be in the back and settled in for 6 hours of sleep, by which time the gas stations would be open again and I could finally go home.

Sleep didn’t come, though. A car the size of a Karimun isn’t very suited for a 6’0″ fat guy. A long, long night followed – and finally, after 5 hours of uncomfortable attempts at folding up enough to sleep, I nodded off in the drivers’ seat. I woke up with every joint in my body hurting, to the screeching tones of my alarm.

I did, in the end, make it home. And fell asleep. And missed out on work. But I got my car…

Ben van Staveren

A somewhat odd traveler, wanderer, wonderer and all-around sarcastic pain in peoples' asses, most of the time. Keeps busy with IT security, random acts of geekery, and other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with IT, computers, or electronics. Can currently be found residing in Jakarta, Indonesia.