I see hundreds of Tourist turn up to places like Ubud for some kind of retreat some kind of spiritual and physical healing. Its something that interest me a little, but don’t worry Im not going to become a hippie and grow underarm dread locks. Somehow in western society we get it mixed we love our stuff and people generally come after. Prayers, offerings and ceremonies come first here in Bali. Thoughtfulness about family, animals, heavens, and plantation happen at least daily. This post is not about Spirituality though, this is about my run-in with the Polisi (The Balinese Police)
I heard the whistle. I kept on going. My daughter said the police want you to stop. I said ‘stop looking at them’. We were driving a 50cc scooter, a regular transportation means in Indonesia. I thought it was over as soon as I turned the corner. 4 ‘ish’ km later I feel a tap on my shoulder, and the leather jacketed polisi man slowly guides me off the road and into the long grass. He talks to me, turns me around, and on my 50cc scooter I accompany him back to the office. As we followed the officer back to the office, I instructed my daughter to empty my wallet and stick all the money in her undies. ‘It’s about to go down’.
Now for a people that are such spirituality mindful, who continually give offering and devotion to ceremony. The most tolerant and welcoming culture, to others. How is it that Im full of contempt for the Polisi. If I were to do this kind of thing in Australia or New Zealand, I would be one of the ‘Hori’s’ on my favourite television programmes ‘Police Ten 7’. I would have been on your televisions Complaining about how I would have got a way with it if my first born wasn’t on the back of my 50cc scooter. I would have got away with it if I was smaller. These scooters were not made for my race.
I sensed the stress in my 12 year olds voice when the polisi started whistling. ‘Dad we need to stop’. I sensed the stress when I jumped back on the bike and accompanied the Polisi back to his corner office. I told her to grab my wallet and empty the contents into her undies. I’m all about being a good example for my kids but I have a weakness. I have a few actually I’m close to 40 years old now but I haven’t grown up much, I’m old but I’m very immature, this is fun. It was funny when I went into the police office and my daughter walked off the opposite direction walking like a cowboy. She had in her undies the proceeds from a pool I had built in Australia, and the proceeds from a sale of a computer. If you can’t picture that, imagine me trying not to smile in the Polisi office.
I’m all about teaching my kids through example. Talk is cheap. BUT this is not like the smoking parent telling his kids not to smoke. Among many things I want to teach my kids, I want them to respect authority. This is different, I can’t share that lesson here in this country, not right now anyway. This is a dad who is about to get a fine, for which there will be no receipt, a kind of open your wallet and see how much money you got, type of fine. The kind of fine you get when you are in Bali, just because, and it was about to go down.
There is a way of avoiding Police confrontation in Bali. You catch a ‘Taksi’. You get a driver. Even better you stay in the hotel. Thats not me, thats not my team. I’m on team, ‘let’s live like the locals’. I’m on team, ‘let’s get out of the Home until we need to sleep’. On a positive note I showed my first born child to smile, to be courteous, and be respectful in the face of Indonesian authority. I also taught her the art of paying the smallest possible ‘Tourist Fine’. I believe these are great life lessons.
It wasn’t a fine because I received no receipt. It can’t be called a bribe because it cost me just 9US dollars. The price of a Burger. In many countries running from the police (in my case, not quite hearing them) can be a life changing event, in Bali it’s a ‘thing thats going to happen’ inconvenience. If you are wearing a helmet, wearing a shirt, not wearing a Bintang tank top, have a licence and your bike has registration papers you are generally safe. If you have money in your wallet, get pulled over, or chased down, you will be issued a no receipt, type of fine.
The people of Bali are beautiful and I’m grateful for every experience. Good, bad and funny. Today as I sit in Singapore having left Bali just a few days ago, I can’t help but feel like a part of me was left in Bali. Perhaps it was left with my lost Jandals, my scooter, my surf board the pools or the beaches. Perhaps part of me was left with the Polisi.
Here are some Random Photos that are kind of related