This fine day started with a plan to see the quintessential "rice terrace" of Bali. We hopped on Scoopy (our scooter) and headed north from our house. We made it to the rice terrace in no time. The terraces are a beautiful sight without a doubt. Unfortunately, there is a small town set up for touristy goods and restaurants overlooking the rice fields, which takes away from the experience. We learned from our resident guide Mr. Bee that the farmer who is actually doing all of the work on the fields, doesn't see any of the money from the tourist huts. We were advised to say "Suksemon" (thank you) if we get harassed to buy things. Needless to say, we wrapped up our visit with a couple of pics and got back on the scooter headed to a viewpoint of the volcano Batur.
As we were cruising through the beautiful countryside, we came across two police officers standing in the middle of the road signaling us to pull over. We had been warned that this is a common scam to get tourists for not having their "international drivers license" to operate the rental scooters. The conversation went a little like this.
Officer: Hello, so sorry. Do you have an international drivers license?
Eric: Unfortunately, I don't, but I have my Washington license with me with a motorcycle endorsement (that expired 5 years ago).
Officer: Oh so sorry, I will need to write you a ticket for 550,000rp ($50) and you will need to work it out at the government building downtown. This is very time consuming and problematic.
Eric: Oh, that sounds pretty bad. Is there any way that we can pay the fine here and avoid the entire process.
Officer: Oh so sorry, that won't be possible. You will need to pay the fine and go to the court.
Eric: Oh, that sounds pretty bad. Is there any way that we can pay the fine here and avoid the entire process?
Officer: Ok..ok... I make special deal for you, but only today. You pay me the 550,000 here and I won't write a ticket.
Eric: That seems like a lot of money. Are you sure you can't lower the fine? I have 100,000 ($10) on me.
Officer: No..no.. That is not enough. You pay 150,0000rp ($15)
Eric: I'm sorry, I only have 100,000. Pulling it out and handing it to him.
Officer: Ok that sounds good. I will remember you so that you won't get pulled over on your way back.
Eric: Ok great. Thanks for your understanding.... and off we went. All within 5 minutes.
Later that evening, we were told by Mr. Bee that this type of scam is very frustrating to the people of Bali as they only pocket the money and don't put it towards true police work. We also learned that they officers are paid less than the rice field workers, so one can't blame them for needing to put food on the table.
Just after the police incident, a man pulled up alongside us on a scooter going 40mph. He told us about his coffee farm, which makes and sells the local specialty Lawak coffee. We read a bit about this before, but thought it would be fun to see on the way back from the volcano.
A little about Lawak coffee: This may disgust some of you, but I assure you it was delicious. There is an animal called the Luwak (looks like cat/raccoon) that dines on ripe coffee cherries in the jungle. They eat the cherries, bean and all. While the bean is in it's stomach, it undergoes chemical treatments and fermentation. The bean finishes its journey through the digestive system, and exits. The still-intact beans are collected from the forest floor, and are cleaned, then roasted and ground just like any other coffee.
This coffee is regarded as one of the most expensive in the world at $400 per pound. Needless to say, we opted for one cup at $5.