Busted by the police in Ubud

21 Apr
Bali MotoBike Blues

Bali MotoBike Blues

Bali is a beautiful island . We could tell from only roaming around in the area that we were living. The streets are donned with hanging bamboo lanterns, there’s traditional houses, temples and gates everywhere. So we decided to go and explore the island, going to the insides of Balinese culture, visiting the heartland.

Easier said than done. How do you get there? We were too proud to go on a mass-tourist tour, so we rented a motorbike instead, not without complications. But we saw some of the countryside, and had some dealings with the police – enjoying the wonders of corruption and negotiation.

Motobikes drink Absolut Vodka in Bali...

Motobikes drink Absolut Vodka in Bali...

Renting a motorbike in Vietnam or Cambodia was a piece of cake compared to Bali. In Phu Quoc and Kep, I just went over to the guy and said I wanted to rent a motorbike – he gave a price, I offered half price and we agreed on something between those amounts – and off I went.

Here in Bali, an additional problem was my friend, or the guidebook he had been reading. It says in the guidebook to make sure you get an insurance with the rental. It never occurred to me to ask for that before. And when we asked, they all laughed at us. Insurance is not done here. If you crash, you pay – it’s as simple as that (as I have experienced in Kampot when I crashed a moto-bike). And they wanted a guarantee – which they never asked me before either.

Getting lost

Getting lost

But when we finally set of for our exploration of the insides of Bali island, the next problem emerged: how to get to Ubud? (the place we wanted to visit) – without a map… I thought to follow the signs and when driving out from Seminyak/Kuta area we indeed saw a sign for Ubud, Denpasar, Nusa Dua, and some other places. So I followed. Unfortunately we didn’t see the next sign telling us to turn, so we continued to Nusa Dua, which is on the Peninsula in the south instead of in the North…

We had only driven half an hour and we were completely lost already. On top of that police had spotted us. They stopped my mate (who was in a complete state of panic and uproar) but I pretended not to see them and continued driving. People had told us that normally we should have an ‘international driving license’ to drive a motorbike in Indonesia, however if they drive around without insurance, maybe the driving license was not that important, I thought.

Police? 20000 Rp and a smile will do

Police? 20000 Rp and a smile will do

Well, it gave the 2 fat police officers (they could have come straight from one of those American B-series) of course a good argument to stop and ‘fine’ us. They asked my friend for his international driving license, but for a ‘contribution of 150000 Rupiya’ (15 US$) they would let him go – or ‘he could go to justice’. And in those cases you just pay.

In the mean time I was hiding down a side street, but the fatter one of the two cops came after me – and unfortunately found me. So I incurred the same faith… I had heard already via mobile phone of my friend the ordeal he went through so I was prepared, and thought to try a different strategy: ‘But officer, this is an international driving license’ – my EU license – ‘look at all the languages on it’. That confused them a bit, but still it was not the ‘international driving license’.

Finally getting to Ubud - Bali

Finally getting to Ubud - Bali

So I had the same option as my friend: some pocket money or I could ‘go to justice’ next day in Denpasar (Bali’s capital). Let’s try: ‘OK, I can go to justice’ – and have things done officially. The police was a bit surprised, but then got his notebook out to take down my details. I gave him only my first names, and only the street where we were staying (which also happened to be the name of a big resort) – so they never would have found me. However, they wanted to keep the motobike’s registration papers, and that would get the rental place in trouble, so I abandoned.

Instead they charged me 100000 (10 US$) – no idea why less than my friend? Maybe because I seemed a harder nut to crack? I did negotiate and begged him to give me a ‘fairer price’ instead… hehe. Dragging on, dragging on, people from the houses came out and saw the happenings with an amused smile on their face. So obviously not an unfamiliar scene in Indonesia.

The coppers didn’t seem to like all the neighbours’ attention. Or maybe it was the phonecall that one of them got. But all of a sudden they gave me my 100000 Rp back, as well as 100000 of what my friend had paid. They parted with ‘let this be a warning’. And we were free again.

Indeed, the neighbours told me that 20000 Rp would be enough pocket money to make them look the other way. So we gave them 10000 Rp tip ;-) We’re so nice!


One Response to “Busted by the police in Ubud”

  1. Andhi 8 May 2009 at 20:04 #

    police just be make people to obey the rule…hehehhee

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