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Thursday 24 November 2016

Kuta: the world capital for cons?

So the kid got off. Good on him. Seemed a nice enough bloke. 

But he should have known he was in the world capital for cons. 

Kuta and surrounding areas in Bali are full of dull-witted bogans, making them heaven-sent for scammers and tricksters. Currency con men; drug scammers, you name it you'll find them here. 

Not that you'd know it from reading the glossy travel magazines. The tourism industry in Bali ploughs in far too many advertising dollars for any negativity to creep into the media coverage. 

Here are just a few of the cons you need to look out for in Kuta and tourist areas of Bali (although much of the rest of the island is captivatingly beautiful and trouble free). 

1. The drug drama. Although anyone thinking of going anywhere near drugs in Bali has rocks in their head, you know this one. Someone offers to sell you cocaine and you end up with a baggie containing crushed up panadol - great if you have a headache. 

2. The currency con. You choose a money exchanger offering a good rate, hand over your dollars and he does a lot of paper shuffling. It is only when you walk away you realise that you only got half (or less) of what you should have received. By the time you go back there is another guy manning the booth and he doesn't speak English (this one happened to my wife). 

3. The surfboard swindle. You rent a surfboard for a couple of hours. Either it breaks into several pieces or you return it with a "brand new" ding. Either way, you are up for big bucks and the police will be of no help.

4. The sham survey. You spend a minute or two answering questions for a guy or girl with a clipboard and you win a prize. All you have to do is pick it up in person at a designated time. At best you spend a couple of hours listening to time-share claptrap, at worst you have the hard word put on you and have to find your own way home. 

5. The scooter shakedown. Tourists riding rental scooters might well find themselves stopped by "police" - legitimate or otherwise. They will find some fault and "fine" you for it. And they will probably look in your wallet first to see how much they think you are likely to be able to cough up. Only keep small amounts of cash on you. 

Also look out for pickpockets, taxi drivers whose meters "don't work", touts for stores selling cheap tat at high prices, and fake holy men at temples. Among others. 

Have a good holiday.  



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