Solo Travel in Ubud Bali via Bemo – Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday is a new photo series I am starting this week. Last week I posted about my first solo trip to Southeast Asia in 1993, and mentioned that I had a bunch of my actual photos scanned. I posted a few of the photos last week and I want to post more – so Flashback Friday photo series has been born.

This is a bemo


Bemo stopping to pick people up in Ubud Bali Indonesia - a lot of people will squeeze into one bemo

Bemo – were common in Bali and Lombok Indonesia for local transportation


Bemos were the most common local transportation option in Bali and Lombok when I visited in 1993. A bemo was usually a mini-van outfitted with rows of bench seating in the back section of the van. Bemos did not have air-conditioning, so windows were always wide open and music played on the radio or cassette player. Reggae music was popular as well as local pop music.  The bemo driver would follow a basic route but pick up people anywhere along the way.

Flagging down the bemo took only the wave of a hand. The fare for tourists was generally double the fare charged for locals. It may seem unfair but locals used to make around $1 per day in 1993. And tourists were generally larger than Indonesians, especially in Bali. I felt like a giant at times!

Sometimes when a bemo stopped to pick me up I thought it was too full, not so, always room for one more. I remember counting over 20 people in one bemo.

Whenever someone wanted to get off the bemo they shouted “stop” or “stoppa” as I recall. There were no designated stops but commonplace to see the bemos stop at markets and other busy places.

In Lombok I was the only passenger in a bemo so I sat up front in the passenger seat, Bob Marley music blaring while we chatted. When the bemo came upon a busy intersection the driver tapped the horn in short bursts and shouted “bemo! bemo!” so I started shouting “bemo!” to help him out. We laughed a lot and enjoyed the trip.

I have read that bemos are not so ubiquitous around Bali and Lombok anymore. I enjoyed traveling by bemo because it was the local transportation. To get a better idea of daily life and understand a culture it helps to travel via the local transportation. Often I would have conversations, sometimes with gestures and hand signals due to language barriers. I enjoyed the interaction with the local people.

Flag me down next Friday for another photo and story about my travels from years gone by.


About the Author

Susan Moore's first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

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