Brian thought we ought to go to a group of three islands in Lombok called the Gilis, small, coral-fringed islands with white sandy beaches, clear water, coral reefs, brilliantly colored fish and superb snorkeling.
"We live on a small, coral-fringed island with white beaches and superb snorkeling," I said. "We need to come all the way to Bali for that?"
Brian looked hurt. "I like our island," he said.
We live on Saipan in Micronesia, and I like it too. But I felt strongly that traveling thousands of miles for what we have at home was missing a serious point.
"I want adventure," I said. "I want to do something that's going to take me out of my comfort zone." I was frustrated because we'd already spent a week in Bali doing nothing but pleasant, comfortable things.
The look on Brian's face said, "Who is this woman?" I relented. We were in Bali for only two weeks, but I hoped to be on the boyfriend's good side for a lot longer.
"Let's go for a day trip somewhere today, and then we'll decide where to go for New Year's," I suggested.
Brian agreed, and we set out in our rented car, a cardboard box on wheels.
Twisty road, crazy drivers
The drive was as frightening and scenic as all of Bali's drives. The road was narrow and twisty and went by indescribably gorgeous hillside vistas, oceans and temples. We saw a lot of women carrying incredible loads atop their heads: One carried a wheelbarrow, another a pile of bricks. Most loads were simpler: bushels of rice stalks and baskets of fruit.
Motorbikes were everywhere, some carrying two, three, four or even five people on a single bike. They thronged the roads, passing one another in the middle of the highway or in the opposite lane, barely avoiding head-on collisions. Cars and trucks did the same.
Brian and I cheered up as we drove: The crazy drivers brought out our appreciation for living. We passed the Bat Cave temple, Pura Goa Lawah, where the day before we had enjoyed looking at thousands of tiny sacred bats hanging in a cave at one of Bali's most important temples. In front of the temple, a man wearing a sharp tan outfit was standing next to a motorbike. He waved at us. We waved back.
A moment later, the waving man was on his motorbike and was passing the line of traffic behind us. He pulled up by Brian's open window. "Pull over," he said. Brian pulled over.
The man stopped his bike behind our car and walked up to the window. He was wearing a fitted khaki button-down shirt with a sewn-on name tag that said "G. Suarta."
"Why did you not stop?" he asked. "I waved you over and you kept driving."
Brian looked sad. "I didn't realize you were pulling me over," he said. G. Suarta looked unimpressed.
"How fast were you driving?" G. Suarta asked.
"I don't know," Brian said.