Matt and Cynthia's Odyssey travel blog

Independence monument at sunset

We bargained down to a reasonable price and got a ride to Denpasar, the capital of Bali. We had to drop off Cynthia's temporary passport at the US Embassy to get some pages added. With the task complete, we walked around Independence Monument, which has a very nice field where locals exercise and play soccer. I really wanted to kick the ball around so after walking around the park I asked a local if I could join in. The sun was going down so we were only able to play for about 30 minutes. There were two locals that I was playing soccer with and one of them, named Seno, invited us to have dinner at his brother's house. He looked nice enough and he said that his brother's house was nearby so we accepted his offer.

Seno had to drive his scooter back to his brother's house so we had to ride over in his friend's car. We began to drive through the city but then the driver turned down several narrow and dark alleyways. Cynthia and I looked at each uneasily and we both felt that something just wasn't right. There were three of them and two of us and we had no idea where we were going or where we were. After a few more minutes of dark, suspicious looking alleys, Cynthia and I had enough. We asked them to please stop the car so we could get out. None of them really understood what we were asking them to do so by the time they stopped the car in the middle of a dark street, Cynthia and I were near panic mode. They still did not seem to understand what was going on which made the situation even more confused. One of them called Seno to explain there was a problem (I don't think he knew what the problem was) and within moments Seno came riding up on his scooter. By this time, we were out of the vehicle and just beginning to try to get our bearings. We explained that we were uncomfortable with our surroundings and thanked him for the dinner offer but we were going to head home. He became deeply apologetic and assured us that neither he nor his friends were criminals. By this time they had turned the car around. He offered to take us to a local shop and buy us a juice and even offered us his identification cards as "security". We began to feel a little silly (really, it was a scary neighborhood) and accepted his offer to get a juice back in town. At this point, we had only known any of them for all of 45 minutes. We rode back into town and arrived at a juice shop where Seno bought us all juices (he absolutely refused to let us pay). He then had his brother and sister-in-law, baby in tow, drive down to the shop to prove to us that he indeed was not a criminal. By now, we felt very comfortable (and very ridiculous) so, once again, we accepted their dinner invitation.

As it turns out, these are some of the nicest people that we've met since we began traveling. One of the men in the car that looked a little suspicious in an oversized jacket took his jacket off and his shirt underneath was stitched "Terminex". He asked if we had heard of the company, of course we had, and he explained that it was a good, stable job in Bali. The evening turned out to be extremely pleasant and by the end of the evening we were all laughing at the earlier event. They gave us a ride back to our room and Seno insisted that his brother would pick us up in the morning to take us to a local market.

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