We contemplated for an extremely long time on whether we should actually write this post cause we didn’t want to get into any trouble knowing it’s not going to be our last time visiting Bali.
But ultimately, we decided to stay true to the whole point of our Singapore Travel blog, which is to educate and give our readers a heads up on what we learn when we travel so they wouldn’t have to make the same mistakes we did.
If you’ve been following us, you would know that we went to Bali recently and on the very first day, I blogged about being “scammed” by the local authorities which severely dampened our mood. This was what happened:
Anyone who has been to Bali would know that there are barely any pavements. Most pedestrians generally just walk on the road which can be quite dangerous especially at night considering they don’t have street lamps.
Even though car rental is also available at a slightly pricier cost, the primary mode of transport in & around Bali is by motorcycle. Rental cost for Motorcycles per day is approximately about US$7 onward depending on the type of bike you choose.
Having own a 1000cc bike with proper legitimate license back in Singapore, we opted to rent a bike as it was the most economical and value for money option.
We did so with our Hotel where they passed us a key and pointed us to our new bike. They nonchalantly explained to us that they ran out of helmets and would only pass us 2 tomorrow. Excited and eager to explore the island, we set out not knowing where to go with just the general idea of recceeing our area. Things quickly took a turn for the worse when we were quickly whistled by a police officer a corner away from our hotel. But as the roads were crowded and I wasn’t sure if it was me he was whistling at, I didnt stop but instead just tried to stick my head out and see if it was me he was looking at. It was then that a local guy on his bike came beside me and said “Go, Just go.” So I did and went on my way.
But after recceeing for a good half an hour, we had to take the same route back to the hotel in which this time, he seem to have spotted us a mile away and stood infront of us to stop our bike.
He ordered us to park our bike at the side and follow him to his booth away from everyone else. The first question he asked was if we were Indonesian and where were we from. He then explained that because we were riding without helmets and without a license, he has to clamp down our bike and we would have to go down to a certain place to pay our fine. I then tried to explain that I do have a license and that the hotel told us they ran out of helmets. But he said no, and insisted it is an offense. He then said that instead of clamping down our bike, we would just pay him US$70 and he would release us and pay the fine on our behalf. With our backs to the wall, we had no choice but to do as we are told, unsure if the offense was ever reported or if the cash really made it to the official department.
“YOU GUYS WERE ASKING FOR IT RIDING WITHOUT A HELMET AND EVERYTHING! YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER THAN TO DO SO!”
And while that is very true, hence I hesitate calling it a scam, heres the catch: Nobody wears a helmet when they ride. Everyone rides around helmetless and it’s generally taken as a social norm, probably hence the nonchalant attitude when our hotel staff told us about the helmet; that it’s ok and its nothing too major.
While it isn’t exactly a scam per say, it is an extremely selective and targeted kind of offense that kinda seems to be only applicable to foreigners. But at the end of it, what can we say, we placed the target on our back and he took it.
Tips to avoid a similar incident
Don’t put the target on your back, straight and simple. Even if like ours, where the rental/hotel guy tells you it’s ok to go without a helmet, dont! Have your license with you and always have your helmet on. .
For a matter of fact, if it isn’t absolutely necessary, we would discourage anyone from riding a bike in the city area of Bali as roads can get pretty crowded and their roads aren’t exactly the best maintained with occasional potholes made more dangerous by the previously mentioned lack of street lamp at night.
Better yet, if it’s possible, look for hotels near the beach or wherever you intend to go so there’s no need for even renting a vehicle.