I don’t have a drivers license. Why? Because I’m Dutch and when you live in Amsterdam you ride a bicycle. Driving a car in the city is a true hell, and finding a parking spot is even worse and when you finally find one, you’ll be ridiculously overcharged for parking your car in that spot. Besides, driving a bike also keeps you in great shape! 🙂
Transport, yes? Motorbike, yes?
In most western countries you’re not allowed to drive a motorbike/scooter when you don’t have a drivers license, but in most South East Asian countries this is no problem. Renting a motorbike for around 60.000 IDR a day is a cheap way of transport, so many tourists go for this option. And the police loooooves it…
Come into our office…
Of course I know the scam stories about the corrupt police in some countries, but I never experienced it myself. But that soon changed! When we left Dreamland Beach (Uluwatu) on our motorbikes, all of the sudden the police appeared in the distance and demanded us (and every other tourist they could get their hands on) to pull over. They asked us if we had our international drivers license with us, and since we both didn’t have one we had to go to the police office across the road.
Smiling, money-smelling officers
We were asked to take place in a small room where a police officer welcomed us with a big smile, already smelling the rupiahs we had on us. He told us we are not allowed to drive without an international drivers license, but he had the perfect solution: we could buy one right there, right now. It would only cost us 500.000 IDR (33 Euro) each, and it was not necessary to show any form of ID. Quickly Desiree mumbled to me in Dutch that we had to pretend that I was the only one who had money on me. Her wallet was safely hidden at the bottom of her bag. I showed the police officer all the money I had, which was coincidentally roughly 500.000 IDR. He then said: “okay, you buy two for 300.000 each”. When I literally showed him my empty wallet and emphasized again that that’s all we had, he said “okay” and gave us this little paper to put our names on and sign. “This is now international drivers license. Next time you show this. Okay bye”. And that was it, we were allowed to leave again.
I sometimes wonder how much money these guys make on a ‘good’ day like this, but then I quickly repress my negative thoughts and accept that this is also part of traveling in South-East Asia 🙂