Monday, February 28, 2011

Bribing the Police in Bali

The next episode of the winter vacation trip took place in Bali.  We headed to the center of the island to the city of Ubud.  We stayed in a gorgeous hotel and there were cheap, professional massages all up and down the road.  I think I indulged in a massage everyday.  How could I not when it's only five to ten dollars?  Where else can you do that?  There is tons to do in Ubud.  There are beautiful rice terraces to explore, ancient temples to visit, delicious Balinese food to eat, and monkeys to play with.  I made a video from our visit to the Monkey Forest, just scroll down to the bottom of the post to see some fantastic monkey footage.  Our first day there we played with the monkeys, visited a really old temple, and went to see the white herons.  Sometime in the mid 1960's thousands of herons began flocking to a one kilometer stretch of road next to some rice paddies outside of Ubud.  Since then, they show up everyday around 6pm and no one knows why they started doing this or why they continue.  It's best to view the phenomena from afar to avoid being shat upon.  Also, avoid standing under any trees for more than a heartbeat.
We're in Bali!

Look in the trees, so many herons!

The next day was our designated rent a scooter day and ride around the island.  The plan was to get the scooters in the morning, head north to the rim of a very large volcano, and hit up some temples along the way.  We traveled north out of the cities and pretty soon we were in rural Bali on a steady incline to the volcano.  After about forty-five minutes we saw a police truck on the side of the road and two officers standing on the center stripe waving for us to pull over.  I was thinking "drug search" in my head because the same thing had happened a year ago in Thailand.  However, the first thing the officer said was, "Driver's license."  Myself, Zach, and Fan were each driving a scooter with our respective special lady friends riding on the back.  So we handed the officer a Kansas, Kentucky, and Chinese driver's license.  The officer soon found this unacceptable and said, "International Driver's License."  I thought, "What is he talking about?"  In China, Korea, and Thailand you don't need an IDL to drive a scooter so I hadn't thought about needing one in Indonesia.  Then the dialogue went a little something like this:

Us:  "Uh?  What?  International Driver's License?  Since when do you need that?  You don't need that?  Right?"
Police Officer:  "You sure do.  Look."  Points to a couple sentences on our rental agreement forms that basically says you must have an IDL to drive a scooter.  (Oops.)
Us:  "Mmmm yeah, about that.... we didn't realize we needed that.  Haha... yeah, we don't exactly have an IDL.  Sorry dude."
Police Officer:  "Where are you heading?"
Us: "The volcano, sir."
Police Officer:  "Almost made it, didn't you?  How are long are you staying in Bali?"
Us: "Three more days, sir."
Police Officer: "Well, you have two options.  One is to go to the courts in Bali and fight this as an injustice."
Us:  "That certainly sounds unappealing.  What's option two?"
Police Officer: "You will have to pay a fine of one million Rupiah (a little over a hundred dollars) at the bank and it will take four days to process."
Us:  "This also sounds unappealing."
Inside My Head:  "How convenient that we will leave in three days and the fine will take four days to process.  I think I see where this is going."
Us: "So we don't want to do either of those things you just said.  Like we said, we leave in three days."
Police Officer: "How can I help you?"
Us: "We don't know, how CAN you help us?"
Police Officer: "Tell ME how I can help you."
Us: "YOU tell us how you can help us."
Police Officer: "You should tell me how I can HELP you."
Us: "We can't pay a fee in four days, so how about we pay BEFORE."
Police Officer: "When do you WANT to pay?"
Us: "How about now?  Now seems like a good time."
Police Officer: "Ok, how much money do have?"
Us: "Not as much as that number you said earlier.  We're just poor backpackers on our way to see your lovely volcano and your beautiful temples."
Police Officer:  "Mmmm hmmm, so how much do you think you should pay?"
***Awkward Silence***
Me: "200,000 ($20)?"
Police Officer: "Not enough, how about 100,000 for each scooter.  So 300,000 ($30)."
Us: "Ok, glad we could take care of this now."
Police Officer: "Pleasure doing business with you."  *Slips the money in to his pocket*

So that was my first experience in bribing someone in the business of law enforcement.  I though it went pretty smoothly.  We went from almost having to pay over $300 to paying just over $30.  However, it was apparent that this guy was out to get a bribe in the first place.  Later we learned that our experience was rather usual and the amount we paid was fairly typical.  Just another day in Southeast Asia.  Besides that nothing else too exciting happened.  We had lunch on the rim on the volcano, saw some more temples, ate some pig skin, and made it down to Kuta Beach a few days later.  Kuta Beach is the most popular place to visit in Bali, but if you're not a surfer it is highly over rated.  It's too rough to swim, it's crowded, it's dirty, and there are hawkers trying to sell you something every three paces.  So we just drank.  Anyway, enjoy some pictures and the next stop is Singapore.
There's the volcano!

We had to wear traditional dress when we visited the temples.

A water temple.

              Video I put together from Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali.


  1. Wicked video dude, love Carolines facial expressions with the monkeys! Not impressed.