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timrock

Bali Customs at it AGAIN!

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Overnight on the 12th on my way to Manado then from the 18th - 28th at Minni's little place. :D I'll shout you a drink if you are back in time.

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hahah.. you got ripped off. should only be 50000 rupes, about $5 or so. i think your driver got % maybe?

 

even with only a couple white guys in the car we have only paid 50

 

:D

 

Our driver was the nephew of a friend in Bali. We stayed in the car both times and he paid it out of his own pocket. No driving offense was ever mentioned. We were told that a policeman was a very desired position in Bali. Now I know why.

Edited by cdoyal

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Before Mike ruins Bali as a destination, I will submit that for most tourists, they won't get to see this sort of activity as they are either in the resort or going somewhere at some ungodly hour. For the expats, it's a fact of life game the local police play. I routinely drive in Bali all over the place and Mike has yet to see me pay a fine. So it's not a rampant problem, just an infrequent annoyance for those who stay there.

Cor, one rare time, I was in a bad mood (we were arguing in the car!) and I REALLY didn't feel like playing tourist and played hard ball with the traffic stop cop in bahasa. Finally his senior came over and said, a matter of factly "Sir, what is your problem? This is the Indonesian way!" At that point, I realized I was being the jerk. The same traffic stops in Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, South Africa all have one thing in common... mass poverty in and a huge rich/poor gap, yet everyone wants their motorbike/truck/cellphone etc. etc.

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Hey Tim, any updates on getting your cameras back? I'm planning a workshop trip to Bali in 2009. I mentioned your predicament to several people on the trip I'm returning from now and they too had a similar problem. I'm hoping to avoid any problems like this.

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Bonnie

I'm quite sure Tim got his camera back otherwise we'd have heard by now. For your workshop group, have the resort arrange for ground "agents" who essentially have paid their monthly dues already.

Tell your people to pack properly for under radar (pelican cases should be small and separate the back up bodies). They most likely will not go through every bag if they see you are on holiday. Pack a lot of stuff in one bag and they'll know you are ripe for picking.

 

Same thing happened to me in 2006-

snip

I was essentially guilty of entry without a ground agent.

 

When the Indonesian Customs found that not to be the case, quick

refund, no questions asked.

 

If I had not had a ground agent , they wanted me to check the camera

gear into Singapore Air, talk my way past the guards into the

arrival hall, and sincerely tell them the locked bags in Singapore

Air's possession contained the camera gear <g>.

Terence, those "ground agents" as I've said have prepaid a "fee" for guest passage. With the Visa on Arrival system, the lesser ones have disappeared. You got the refund because they can't take from both ends, it'd be too greedy. :)

 

You don't have to tell them anything but just say you are on holiday. Usually I say I'm going to Tulamben and Ubud.

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Arrived in Bali on 12 April.

The folks from Wakatobi met us prior tp customs inspection.

We sailed thru with only a brief explanation of "diving and cameras"

The only thing in our bags were housings and strobes.

The camera bodies were separate from the lenses and packed in our carry-ons (small backpacks).

 

Much easier that Mumbai, India IMHO.

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Susan and I just returned from Bali last week. The Wakatobi agents sped us through immigration by taking care of our arrival visas for us (no lines). The Wakatobi agents can't help with customs issues though - except perhaps act as language translators. If your bags get chalk X's they are due for further customs inspections.

Our camera cases (LowePro Roller 3's) were marked on three sides with X's when we pulled them off the belt. We discreetly wiped the X's off with wet-wipes prior to exiting through customs. No inspection for us.

Thanks to this thread and a resultant inquiry to Wakatobi we brought wet-wipes and perhaps saved some money.

 

-Brad

Edited by BradDB

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Terence, those "ground agents" as I've said have prepaid a "fee" for guest passage. With the Visa on Arrival system, the lesser ones have disappeared. You got the refund because they can't take from both ends, it'd be too greedy. :)

 

You don't have to tell them anything but just say you are on holiday. Usually I say I'm going to Tulamben and Ubud.

 

Drew,

 

My main mistake was not securing the Wakatobi agent's cell phone number before arriving.

 

Good job removing the chalk, BradDB!

 

Terence

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This is so unfortunate as I found all the Balinese we met to be very appreciative of our Tourist dollars.

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A few things to note about this thread from someone living and working here…

 

The first is the point that went a wee bit off track about driving and getting caught for driving illegally! Yes folks, if you have no international driving license you’re driving illegally and of course the cops have you by your short’n’curlies. Try doing this in any other country and you’ll have a very serious police officer and fine to deal with, not simply 5 bucks. There is actually a phone number to call is you are being hassled by traffic cops. Though if you aren’t breaking the law the cop pulling you over knows this and won’t hassle you anymore over here in Bali.

The worst is actually for the local drivers here. They also have to pay the cops… Yep, unless you’re driving with a big tour company in their registered buses your friendly Indonesian driver has to pay a few bob as well!

 

I agree that the deal with this new camera regulation is totally out of hand. Though as someone else has mentioned here, there are many people who bring in goods to sell or give to expats living here in Indonesia. Again, in many other countries this is also not allowed! So far (touch wood) I’ve never had any issues like this with groups coming in to Indonesia. I’ve had a whole range of professional divers with tons of kit, some entering on their own with as much gear as your average dive group heading out on a small liveaboard. What I do is to arrange a private pick up by an agent. If anyone is worried about this, just ask who ever you’re booking with to arrange a VIP pick up! Having said that, this doesn’t guarantee that you can’t be pulled aside and asked to pay the deposit on your dive gear!

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After over 7 years of living and diving in Bali I’ve worked out that there are only really times of the year that are more unpredictable than others. I’ve dived at just about all times of the year in different locations and had fantastic diving here in Bali.

However, the worst I’ve experienced here was 2 years ago in February, though we simply went to another location and had great diving again. February is generally the wettest time of the year in Bali, bringing with it heavy rains, which can mean run off and really poor viz’ in certain areas.

What I usually do when divers want to come during times when I think weather could be dodgy is to leave the itinerary open by not booking any resorts. This way if the weather is not so hot, or simply if the critters are just not there we have the chance to move to another location!

By the way, there can be chance encounters with Mola all year round. I have a photographic group here now, yesterday I took them over to Nusa Penida and most of the group saw a big Mola mola!

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Graham,

 

Funny thing, is that the guides told us it was a small mola mola! Just another critter off my list, though I don't think anyone got a shot of it. Great diving with you, but next time, you need to have the molas come up and tap us on the foreheads before posing for the pictures.

 

And to bring this around to this thread, we had no problems with our luggage, but we're only carrying one set of camera kit for the two of us. However, on the way to the airport to leave, our driver was pulled over and asked to "make a donation" to the local "policeman's charity ball." The whole transaction took less than a minute, and the cops probably drove off with 10,000Rp.

 

All said and done, I still love that island and the people.

 

Cheers,

Ken

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The situation at Bali Customs is not only a recent problem.

 

On one trip to Bali in 2003 (actually was on my way to Wakatobi), I found a chalk "X" on one of my checked in luggage. I wiped it off as much as possible prior to entering the customs line not really realizing what it was about. The bag contained my diving gear and on the top of the gear was a box of chocolates that I had brought along to share at Wakatobi. The customs agent asked me to open the bag. He then noted the box on the top of everything, and asked "Can I have that?" Figuring that he wanted to inspect it, I gave it to him. He looked at it, and then put it on a shelf in his desk/podium. Completely unaware of what was transpiring, I asked him to give it back to me, but he ignored my wanting it back and acted like he didn't have it at all. It then dawned on me how much misery he could cause me (I had camera/housing etc), so, I asked if we were finished and I could go. He nodded. After gathering my stuff and feeling lucky it only cost me a $10 box of chocolates, I exited the airport. I did tell Crispin about the incident, and learned a valuable lesson.

 

Robin

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That is entirely disconcerting.

 

So, I guess I should count myself lucky that I didn't get busted for the two D100 bodies I had in my camera backpack. In fact, although we sailed through, a couple of other divers in our group were busted for attempting to bringing in 2L (Gasp!) of alcohol, instead of the 1L allowable.

 

Guess who had a nice bottle of Cabernet with dinner that night? :D

 

Good to know about this scam policy - I will hand off one of the cameras to another family member when we return next year.

 

 

 

J.

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Guess loading up on chocolates is another strategy

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Guess loading up on chocolates is another strategy

 

 

At least that's the ticket with that custom's agent! :D

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post-5742-1212077017_thumb.jpg

 

i believe this is their favorites

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post-5742-1212077017_thumb.jpg

 

i believe this is their favorites

 

 

ooh, how about lacing a box of chocolates with that? heh heh that way, when you exit denpasar, you won't have to deal with ANY customs officers... :D

 

i've been to bali a couple of times with no problems whatsoever...it probably helps that my groups are almost all Asians.

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it has actually got me thinking about the Schapelle Corby story and whether her pleads of innocent were real. if you dont know the girls story do a google search and you will find it.

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What you think she was innocent?

 

I think if I had a body board that weighed a few kilos, then suddenly more than doubled in weight I'd notice!

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What you think she was innocent?

 

I think if I had a body board that weighed a few kilos, then suddenly more than doubled in weight I'd notice!

 

i wouldnt like to say, but if all of her bags had been re-weighed on the same scales at the check in desk where she checked in, as i believe her defence had requested when she was arrested, it would have proved it one way or another. for some reason, her bags were never re-weighed. if they weighed 20kg for arguements sake, when she originally checked her luggage in, and if they then weighed 24.1kg when she was arrested then i feel she might have been innocent.

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Boy, am I torn. On the one hand, I can understand visiting a tribal society and being prepared to make a gift to the people. Hopefully, if you used a travel agent or read the "Fodors' guide to indigenous customs, you'd be prepared for it. But, the GOVERNMENT should be a different story. If you have an international airport you ought to avoid fleecing the tourists. This sort of "crap" will absolutely and positively keep people from visiting Bali, to the detriment of their tourism industry. Sure, for the seasoned traveler, paying a few bucks here and there is not a problem. But to most people who are uncomfortable traveling to begin with, they sure has hell are not going to travel half way around the world to be held up by a customs agent.

 

The discomfiture of not being in control of one's spending because public officials randomly pick your pocket, makes it quite likely that many people will never return, or never go to begin with. And when this is more publicized on tripadvisor and other websites, it will be blown out of proportion to the problem for sure by irate people who are used to due process, etc., and it will scare the pants off of countless tourists.

 

And, you know what? I wouldn't fault people one bit for directing their hard-earned money elsewhere. Not the sort of garbage one expects when paying an arm and a leg to visit "paradise."

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Ah david

therein lies the rub. Many "innocent" tourists complain about paying off customs bribes, however, quite a few other "innocent" tourists love that they can pay $XXX and overstay 90 days above the 30 day visa in Indo or pay off the cops for causing a car accident/fight/DUI etc etc.

When enough people complain to the Indonesia government (esp Bali tourism) about these issues, I'm sure they'll stay quiet for a few years as they did after the bombings.

Let's also get real and think about how many tourists carry 2 or more pro SLRs and housings on holiday? One can also not pay the bribe and just pay the bond or duty which is refundable. I had to do that in Chile and Bolivia. It's inconvenient and annoying, but it's also Indonesian law (at least their interpretation of it :lol:)

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I just completed reading this entire thread; not a bad idea considering I will be Bali-bound in 10 days and counting.

 

Note to self:

1) Place the Pelican case in a duffle bag

2) Bring wet-wipes to remove the chalk "Xs"

 

Thanks for the heads-up Wetpixelers...

Edited by AMW

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This is a great read and it brought back a really funny memory from 1995. I was in Bali with my husband (then boyfriend). We lost some travelers checks and went to the local police station to file a police report which was needed for the reimbursement. My bf was shuffeld off by a young police officer to some building and I was told I had to wait with the big honcho in a separate area. As I waited the big honco started making phone. Soon police officers started filing in at the station and apparently I was the reason. Noone spoke much English, but as I asked when my bf would be back they told me it would be "soon". An hour passed... then two. I was starting to get the idea that my bf is filing some really really long report... I was sitting there surrounded by all those police who peered at me and apparently discussed me. Ever so often some of them tried to talk to me, but the big honcho told me I should only talk to him, pointing to the "stripes" on his sleeve and then tto the stripes of the "lesser" officers. As the time passed an I enquired about the possibility of getting my BF back, my questions would just be waived at and the big honco would for the umpteent time ask where I was from and then victoriously declare to the rest of the officers that I was from PIN-LAN-DI-A! Also, quite a few times he suggested that I should make a "donation" to the police station. I was getting the message, but wasn't in a particular hurry anywhere and the situation was not intimidating. So rather than making a "donation" I just sat there, letting them oogle me for hours. But eventually the "donations requests" became quite annoying, and not having an idea of how much to "donate" I asked how big a donation would be appropriate. I don't remeber what it was, but it was too much, as I basically had no money anyway. So I told them that my bf maybe would be interested in making a donation although he wouldn't have very much money due to the unfortunate incident with the lost checks. This was contemplated and soon the big honcho went to check on the progress of the "policereport" and returned back with the young officer and my bf. The the big honcho suggested that NOW would be a good time to make a donation. As my honey is pretty quick on the uptake, he did not offer any "monetary donation" but suggested that he buy sodas from the vending machine for all officers. This apparently was an appropriate "donation" and all present were very pleased. The big honco handed me his card and asked me to please write a postcard to him from Pin lan di a. When we left I asked my bf to show me the police report that took almost 6 hours to compose. It was less than two rows of typewriter text. At least I have a funny memory of the incident, tho I wasn't really planning on spending one of my vacatio days at a police station entertaining the local law enforcement.

Edited by Marjo

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