Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bali- The corrupt first day

Bali has offered both the best and worst a vacation could.

Our first full day out and we went to an old and supposedly interesting temple.  After the wave of  high pressure sellers, we got to the ticket window and the guy tries to cheat me on the entrance to the temple.  Does he think I do not see the big sign with the price on it or does he think I can not count?  His friend tried to tell me he was confused about the money.  I guess I have had too many of these jokers try these things and I told him what I thought of his efforts.  I got all of my money back and did not go in.  Our driver told me what I already knew, this was a scam they try all the time.  First attraction, never made it inside, left irritated.

Undettered, we headed to the second place when the police began waving cars to the side of the road.  I asked the driver, "Is this some sort of check?" He grabbed 10,000 rupiah (a little more than a dollar) and got out of the car.  He got back in a minute later and told us the police have road blocks all the time.  Everyone pays them a bribe or they find something to detain the driver, the car, or both.  He told us a story of a time that they caught someone trying to steal a pump from a home in the community.  The people grabbed him with the pump in his hands.  They called the police.  BIG MISTAKE.  The police came, made a report and took the pump as evidence.  They agreed to return the pump as long as the people paid them.  It turned out to be cheaper to buy a new pump than to pay the bribe the police demanded to return the pump they stole.

We ended up going to a couple of nice temples and a beautiful botanical garden.  We ended the day in our hotel where they were putting on a reasonably marginal show.

As you might guess, after day one we were somewhat disappointed.  Day two was much better.   More about that later