Or at least getting close to it...
I've met some great people in Indonesia.
With this man, I sat and spoke for 30 minutes about Europe and China. We had great laughs.
With this other man, we spoke about Indonesian culture and religion. At the end he told me: "I've never met a tourist like you who takes the time to speak with locals, and shows interest." Quite a nice man.
This all sounds to nice doesn't it? Today things went wrong.
Since I left China, a country populated from what I've seen of honest people -although money being their number one goals- I feel like I'm getting scammed every other second. This time it went over the edge.
To visit mount Bromo, on Java island (Indonesia) there is a fee of 227,000 Indonesian rupiah, a bit less than $20. It's crazy and ridiculous. You need to pay to climb a mountain. They claim it's the price to enter a "National Park" when in fact there is no park, the government simply put a gate on the road and started to ask for money. The drivers and tourism agencies are all a part of the scam. Once again, this is for climbing up the mount Bromo and looking inside of the crater.
For the past weeks mount Bromo has been erupting. This was the view I had.
But when the volcano erupts, how do they make the money off of you if you can't go up?
They bring you into their office and say:
"Okay, you Bromo entrance fee here, 220 thousand. You pay on top, 227 thousand."
That's hard to refuse. You get tickets in the office, no more thinking about it, and you're getting $0,50 off. So you buy it, they gladly pocket the money, and you never see the gate, because the gate is further down the valley where you simply won't be going. When Java island's most visited volcano is booming, you can only access the viewpoints. The viewpoints are FREE to access.
This morning my tour package companions (an Italian couple and a French guy) and I met two Germans who had been in Indonesia for the past 23 days.
"We're sick of it, I can't wait to get out of here, it's nerve recking" the first one shot out after brief introductions.
"Oh... What happened?"
"Did you pay for mount Bromo?"
"Well you didn't have to, and that's how it's been for the past 3 weeks. They'll suck you dry of every dime until you got nothing left and want to get the hell out of here. That's where we're at right now."
"So wait, you didn't pay to get here?"
"We told them 'Go fuck yourself'"
They went on and explained the whole scam they had been through previously and now knew how to avoid.
We returned to the agency the tour was booked through and started to discuss the issue. At first only our driver was there. My three newly made friends weren't as good in English so I was doing 100% of the talking. The driver, 1 versus 1, quickly felt overwhelmed and said "I don't speak English, I only driver."
"So call your boss."
15 minutes later 4 other men came in. The discussion started all over. I had practiced on the drive and my rhetoric was spot on. I fired out arguments like a Russian Katyusha fires out missiles. He was under heavy fire. I spoke calmly and respectfully. I think that's what was getting him the most pissed off.
At some point he grabbed my arm and started screaming. We were standing each on one side of a meter and a half high desk. I felt threatened.
One of his buddies grabbed my other arm. The previously 1 versus 1 discussion turned into a 5 versus 1 "Adrien you're in trouble" situation.
I jerked my arms free and yelled loader "Don't fucking touch me."
It was about to get dicey.
After some time of again speaking bullshit I explained that it was more about being threated like a dog as a tourist then the money. Somewhere in that very sentence I used the word 'dignity'. Somehow he understood it a differently and came springing out of his now sitting position towards me with his fists tight and his chin lowered.
I told my self "Oh god damn it, this fool is really holding onto his money."
One of his friends held him back, luckily for one of us, perhaps both.
As I backed off he hurled a half full bottle of water at me.
At this point I understood it just wasn't worth the struggle and we weren't going to get any money back anyway.
We bailed and learned a lesson.
In Indonesia don't pay for anything before hand, if you really have to pay for it there'll be a legit person to collect the money on the spot. Oh and most of the time, said a German who spent 4 weeks spread across the whole country, "Go fuck yourself" and walking through works well too.
I hope I won't have to reach those extremes.
More soon, stay tuned 😉