You can’t expect to travel the world without some bumps along the way. But even by my own accident prone standards this one is a record. Just eighteen hours after arriving in Bali disaster struck.
I had rented a scooter for $5 a day. A bargain, even if the beast was painted in wild pink and emblazoned with the name B***tard! My public humiliation was complete when they handed me a helmet that Biggles would have happily sported in the First World War.
An hour later I was on a narrow stretch of potholed bitumen crammed with other bikers. Suddenly an oncoming scooter wobbled wickedly on the far side of the road, lurched violently right and crashed to the ground. Myself and another rider tried to swerve, but it was too late. I slid 10 metres along the floor on my knees, arms and elbows before coming to a rest with the pink b***tard on top of me.
All hell broke lose. Wobbly, who turned out to be a young Aussie girl 10 minutes into her first ever scooter ride, was in hysterics. The Balinese rider was threatening Armageddon and I sat there painting the road red with my blood. Well, not quite, but large chunks of skin were hideously grazed and bloody. My machine was badly scratched along its front and right hand side.
But in adversity you find the best in humanity. A United Nations of people set about putting me back together again.
Back at my hotel I’d met Debbie and Paul, an English couple from Port Sunlight on Merseyside.
Debbie is a nurse. She did an examination and prescribed lots of good advice. Two more examinations have followed. Tang Xiaowen and Chu Qung from Singapore offered sympathy, their emails and an invitation to hook up whenever I am over there.
Next came Norina from Uma Karan, the fabulous boutique hotel I am staying at in Seminyak. Although I now had several creams and sprays from the local pharmacy Norina was still concerned. She went and bought me a Chinese healing potion. She paid for it out of her own pocket and absolutely refused to take a cent for it.
Now it was time to front up to Bali Radiance bike hire company, to confess my sins. Norina had offered to call and negotiate damage costs but I decided to do my own dirty work.
At first there were frowns and shaking heads. A price of 500,000 Rps ($50) was proposed with an accompanying sheepish grin. I counter offered and after a series of friendly and smiling exchanges we agreed on 120,000 Rps or $12. They were happy and so was I. Could you imagine Mr Hertz or Mrs Avis being so accommodating? Bali Radiance will forever be my scooter hire company of choice in Seminyak!
And finally there was Marie. Originally from Mauritius, she arrived in Bali via Australia in the mid 2000s and runs her own very successful hair and beauty business here. I had been given her name by my hairdresser Debbie back in Noosa. Over some fantastic food and drink, some of it given to us free of charge by the Greek manager and French restaurant owner, she painted a picture of Bali for me. It was a wonderful night to cap off a memorable 24 hours.
So here I am. A little battered and bruised, short of some skin, but so happy and so grateful to be in the caring company of strangers from all over the world.
With the Boston bombings, threats of nuclear wars and all manner of depressing issues in the news this week, it’s easy to forget our planet is full of the most amazingly decent and kind people.
Anyway, time to scoot. The pink b***tard is all revved up and ready to roll again.