Thursday, February 17, 2011

Great Fun in Denpasar

So, yesterday I got flagged over by the police on my scooter. I was going slow and doing nothing wrong except I am not a local. I had read a blurb about the hassle getting a foreign temporary drivers license for Bali. About hot crowded lines you could avoid if you paid enough to get into the pack door at the poise station. It was written a few years back and watching all the foreigners in town on their scooters you can rent everywhere I hoped that the license was a thing of the past. The official place, no just some kid on the street, never mentioned anything about needing one and I forgot to ask.

Well, ya kinda need one. The police were very nice. We bantered a bunch before we got down to business. Basically, they could confiscate the bike for four days and I could then come to court and pay a hundred dollar ticket... or it was possible to pay them much less and get a "warning". Sweet, I was getting a shakedown. I gave them ten bucks which I think was more than they expected. In return I could keep riding until I was able to get my license. "maybe you go Monday?" the day I turn mu scooter in.

This morning, Friday, I got up early to avoid as much traffic and give myself time to find the one police station that issued temporary licenses. Maybe even beat the crowd. I could have taken my chances, maybe dish out another ten bucks, and drove off to the beach, gone SCUBA diving, or toured some of the many sights. Instead, I decided to waste a day and avoid future stress by heading into Denpasar. I got direction for the first handful of turn out of Ubud to get me in the on the road where I might be able to follow signs. I was told to just ask people where I get there where this place was. I followed the signs through the traffic I didn't beat for an hour plus until I got to the capital city made up of hundreds of districts. I can't start to explain how fun it was stressing out in traffic, getting lost, getting vague directions, getting told is was far and impossible to find. I asked plenty of police, none of whom asked me for my license, nor could they tell me where to go. Just when I was about to give in, pull over and hire a taxi to take me there, wait for me, and take me back to my bike, I finally found the district I heard mumbled a few times and by some great act of the god found the station.

"Maybe you come back tomorrow? No electricity." uh? Is it open on Saturday? "maybe you come back Monday?"

Some of the most laughable moments are when you realize your toil and efforts have been in utter vein. After two hours of zipping around the hot city the day was already half over and I would remain an illegal driver. I found it amazing comical. Now I got to figure out how to get out of here. I figured if I just head in one direction I would eventually escape the capital.

In one of the suburbs I came across another police station where I stopped just to see if there was a remote chance they could hook me up. They were all very nice and the head honcho was abundantly friendly and fun, yet they could not get me a license there. I was given the number of the chief at the previous station whom I could call and check upon the power situation if I cared to try again later. (like I could ever find it again). He also gave me his number, Chief Inspector Nikolas, and told me to call him if I ever had any problem. With cell phone numbers of high ranking police officials in my notebook, I guess, and none of the other police caring about me driving, I figured that was enough fodder in my cannon to take my chances and get on with my life in Bali without worrying about the stupid temporary international license. We'll see.

My butt was beat up and I had another hot hour or more just to get back to Ubud. It may be a sit-by-the-pool-with-a-beer-and-read late afternoon.

Location:Denpasar Bali

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