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Dealing with Bali police
Avoiding probems with Bali (traffic) police

Tens of thousands of tourists bring a visit to Bali not only to enjoy the sea, the beach and the waves there. They also rent a motorbike to explore the island. This - cheap - way of transport is an effective way of exploring the more remote parts of the island without having to take care of renting a car with driver or drive it yourself, something you are strongly advised not to do because of various reasons. Using a motorbike has about the same reasons however, but you are much more visible in this way.

Being visible has more cons than proís for a tourist on Bali. Of course it is less safe than in a car - generally spoken of course - but that is not special for Bali. That you can use a motorbike to navigate through the heavy traffic is also something not specific to Bal, however it can be very helpful, especially in the overcrowded tourist destinations in the south of Bali. Motorbikes are much faster than cars where, even pedestrians will reach their local destinations earlier than those who have to bring a car along as well.

Safety on the road and availability are not the only worries for the average tourist however. There is one worry that could cost more money than renting the motorbike, acquiring a proper international drivers license and possibly a new helmet; itís the police whether they are working together with the people who sell the motorbikes or not. That last is quite a bold statement and there is no evidence for it - of course not - but some Ďcoincidencesí will probably bring you to the same conclusion.

However rental motorbikes can not yet be recognised by special marks, a rental motorbike with a Ďforeignerí driving it, makes an ideal target for those who rent it and the police. No rental will probably tell you that you need a proper helmet (one that covers your ears) if they supply you with a more simple one. In the first place not to loose any income but possibly also because they will get a reasonable amount of provision from the police fines - as long as you donít get a ticket, it will end up in their pockets.

Most likely a big part of the rental motorbikes are in such a bad condition that you donít even want to rent them anymore, if only for your own security. Remarkable as well is tha many of these motorbikes donít have their original license plates anymore. These things are not named license plates in Indonesia, but police numbers, because that is the location where you should register a vehicle.

But what is a Ďnot original license plateí? Well, that is pretty simple, however you need to take a close-up first. Very close, becauese a mark that is put on this plate at the police station when you have registered your vehicle and you come again to claim your plates. The stamp-like mark is just a few centimeters big and there are two on each plate. All plates that are not made at the police station, donít have this stamp. Furthermore you also have a big variety of home-made plates.

Most likely the plates that look enough like the original ones will not be any problem. However a tourist on Bali doesnít really care about the license plates on his or her rental bike, so it might just happen that they are stopped somewhere along the road with that story as an excuse. Motorbikes with plastic license plates or all kinds of decorations are at risk of being stopped. Easy money for the receiver here, but easy to avoid if you know about it.

Outside this there are some more things that you should take into account to avoid some of the easy tickets given by the police. Start with obeying to traffic regulatios; red light, overtaking in places where it is not allowed and more than two persons on a motorbike are easy to avoid. Speed is not really monitored, but for your own safety you could slow it down as well. That is also the reason you have to wear your helmet and obey other traffic regulations as well.

What can also be of some help is not to react to every sound you hear, especially a whistle. However there are more parking attendants than police on Bali, the loud sound of a whistle of a police officer is easy to be recognised. It is a common signal however which doesnít have to be for you only. Donít attach too much value to it and continue driving as you were doing already. It might be clear that if you just made a traffic violation, it is better to stop and undergo the consequenses of course. If you didnít do anything and you hear that sound, it just might be someone looking for additional salary for the day.

To continue the above, it is best to behave as you normally would, even if there is police. Most of the time they are just posting an intersection. When you see the traffic lights turn yellow, donít speed up to cross before itís red and when itís getting yellow, donít brake suddenly. The last one is dangerous because other traffic directly behing you is most likely not to stop anyway. Donít do any effort to give the police more attention than traffic. Traffic is more important most times.

Last revised on September 25, 2009
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