International fugitives :D

Trip Start Sep 30, 2005
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Trip End Sep 29, 2006


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Flag of Indonesia  ,
Sunday, July 9, 2006

This is going to be a long entry, so save it til your really bored and can give it your full attention :D
It all started well enough. Labuanbajo is a OK place, the hotel was Ok, if a little over priced. The restaurant was OK, if a little slow on service, and the view was OK, if rather noisy! This is the place where you book your trips out to see the beasties at Komodo National Park !
There are also a number of beautiful deserted islands that you can stay on for the robinson crusoe feel.
We decided to book our trips through the hotel, as there are a lot of persistant touts around town and staying in house as it were, we thought would minimise the risk. We booked a trip to Rinca, including a trip to a deserted island for snorkelling. And a 2 day trip to Seraya island (beautiful and deserted. www.serayaisland.com) We paid for the Rinca and snorkelling trip and headed off the next day. It all went ok. (The park is bloody expensive to get in and you are only allowed 2 hours before they hoof you out)we saw 10 dragons in total and even saw a juvenile dragon hunting a spitting cobra! :D we got a pic! it was well cool!!!
Then we went off to the island for snorkelling...it seemed a bit crap for what we'd paid. Not far away at all. right near the mainland and full of other tourists! But OK we thought.
The next day we were meant to go to seraya island, at 10.40am. But we didnt. It was one delaying tactic after another. We eventually got to the island at 3pm. The tide was already out, so no swimming or snorkelling or owt! We moaned to the staff, they shrugged and wandered off, ...a typical reaction in Indonesia!The island was nice, we debated staying on but the staff made it unbearable. They were rude, lazy, disinterested and outright hostile if you upset them. It was easy enough to upset them...we waited an hour and a half for basic noodles. After an hour we reminded them and they got well snotty...i expect our noodles did too!
So we left after the 2 nights and one full day.
Back in the hotel, we complained. We had also discovered that the trip to Rinca we had paid for wasnt the one we got. We were given the basic trip which cost nearly half what we'd paid. They took us to the same Island as everyone else. not the beautiful deserted island,'special,far away...no one goes there!'.So we moaned about the con too. The staff were utterly unconcerned. It was everyone elses fault but theirs. It was our fault, the sea's fault, the airplanes fault (?) but certainly not theirs! The trip to Rinca, they just shrugged and said 'HaHa, you pay !'We ended up, after several hours of getting no-where, loosing our temper and telling them what utter liars and cheats they were and there was no way we were going to hand over money for things we didnt get!. They said'HaHa...you pay!' we left the hotel. checked in to another, and calmed down!. The staff followed us, periodically demanding money and then threatening us with the police!
We went back to the hotel and handed over the money we believed we owed. They refused to accept it. The satff followed us down the street trying to give it back, and demanding more. We ignored them and went back to our hotel...they were still threatening the police. We waited but no cops arrived that night. The next morning the satff were back...demading money. We were due on the ferry at 8am. We tried yet again to explain...you didnt give us what we paid for, you didnt take us when we agreed we would go, you lied and tried to cheat us, we have pictures of where you took us and it wasnt the right place...' They said..'you pay or we call poice!' We said ok call the F&&^%^^^police and walked off for the ferry. We tried to get a bemo to the dock but the staff followed us on a bike, shouting instructions to the bemo driver. He was agreeing to their demands. When we asked what they were saying...he said 'oh, i dont know!' we got off the bemo and walked. God only knows where he was going to take us :(
On the ferry, we thought...this isnt over...not by a long way. The only question is, will the police be bothered and can they get their act together fast enough to leave the office (about 100 meters away) and get to the ferry before it leaves?
The answer was 'yes' and 'yes'!
Guess how many cops turned up?....go on guess!.....have a try, 2 unarmed british backpackers who refused to be ripped off for 200,000 rupiah (about 22 dollars)....how many do you reckon??
FIVE uniformed police and a plain clothed inspector/detective guy! They must have felt mighty threatened by our intimidating backpacks and grubby shorts! :D
Inspector guy walks up and the first thing he says is 'are you christian?' Odd we thought, surely establishing a name would be more pertinent.Even so, 'no' we said. 'You owe this man money!' he gestured towards mr. tout. Interesting way to ask an unbiased question we thought! 'er, no we dont...can I explain?' He listened for about 60 seconds then butted in sharply and said' I dont care about this, you owe this man money!!' well, no we dont. 'you give me 500,000!' he said. Oh, this is getting interesting! Mr tout is asking for 200,000, now mr copper wants 500,000! 'We dont owe this man money, but he is saying 200,000, not 500,000!' Mr inspector guy turns to the other cops and starts talking. They all move in to hear, and didnt look too impressed with the conversation, 'OK, you give him 200,000 i want to see you give him the money!'
So were faced with an interesting scenario. We have several hundred US dollars plus millions of rupiah in our possesion. The last place we want to be, is in a cell where all our cash can 'disappear'. We have a demand for 200,000, or 500,000 or we get nicked! We handed over the 200,000 calling him a liar and a thief! There was no way we were going to give him an easy ride, even at this stage...he was going to work for it! Maybe they didnt arrest us cos there was dozens of people witnessing the thing on the ferry! Either way.The cops made it quite clear they were prepared to make our lives very uncomfortable if they chose to, and the only way out was to hand over cash! Guilt or innocence had absolutely no relevance in the situation at all. We were rich westerners and they were corrupt cops and that was that! Im sure they got their cut of the 200,000.
We left Labuanbajo, feeling fairly pissed off! as you can imagine :D The crowd of indonesians who had gathered round us to watch, like they were watching a cockfight or something, gradually dispersed, but they kept staring at us for the entire journey:D
We have bumped in to another couple tho, who had an even more annoying situation happen to them, simply getting to Labuanbajo. The hired a car and were ripped off for 800,000! And weve been told of a couple who, last week, handed over 2.8 million to the hotel manager to book a ferry for them and he stole their money! The cops didnt give a shit! They never got a penny back! Im sure the cops got a cut of the 2.8 million tho :D
I guess if a country is happy to live in the perpetual cycle of corruption and poverty, then that is up to them. When they are sick of living like that, maybe they'll do something about it. In the meantime, we got out lightly compared to many others!The trip out of Labua took 24 hours. Ferry, bus, ferry bus! right over the island is sumbawa, and on to lombok! After our restful night waiting for the cops then the restful night on the bus over sumbawa, we feel raring to go! YeeHaa! off to the Gili Islands for a ...long sleep!
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Comments

sawdon
sawdon on

:(
Sounds like a way of life for them doesn't it? It's one of the only things that would put me off going anywhere interesting like this, the fact that they try to rip you off any chance they can (as seen in about 50% of your blog entries)!

Anyway, glad to see the Northerners in you didn't back down until it was absolutely necessary! Probably a good tactic not to get thrown in jail :)

Congrats on 100 blog entries, keep em coming!

Hans-Surabaya on

Oh so sad to read this article. I'm Indonesian, my sister live in flores helping farmers. She told me that everyman there is a good man. Which one is thrue?

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