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Published: July 10th 2010
I can’t believe I’ve been here a week now. It’s gone very quickly. The other night I was just leaving the dive centre and I was just waiting on the side of the road on my moped. I was waiting to follow the taxi some friends were getting in to show me the way to a hotel to check out for my dad. Before I had even turned the engine on, I found a policeman pulled over next to me. I had been warned that the police stop white people to get money off them for anything they can. That evening I was being stopped for not having an international license. He told me that I would go to court to try and scare me. By this time my friends had left in the taxi so I was by myself. I gave him the money in my pocket instead of taking me to court. Unfortunately I only had about one pound in my pocket so he said he would take me to a ATM so I could give him more money. There was no way I was going to go to an ATM with him because you take out more than one hundred pounds in one go. I ended up ‘going to ask a friend’ for some money inside the dive centre which was all closed up. I came back to him with the contents of my purse, about eleven pounds, and he took that. He had originally asked for twenty pounds but apparently you shouldn’t give them more than ten pounds. On that journey home I noticed at least four other police cars and police on mopeds which luckily didn’t stop me. Apparently the best way to avoid being stopped is by not making eye contract with them. The next day I asked why there were so many police out and it was because the next day there was a half moon and when there is a half moon or full moon, people donate money to some sort of religious reason so all the police were out looking for money. The foreign people who live in Bali say that being white means that if the police are able to stop you, they will ask money to not take you court for any reason. My instructor said he was stopped the other day for not having his helmet strap done up. I’d say 75% of people don’t drive with a helmet on!! Another instructor who was born in Bali said he never has to pay more than about 50 pence if he ever gets stopped. He also told us that the police in Bali have to pay to be policemen so it’s how they make a living.
I had my first dive in Bali and it was also the first time I saw the beach and it’s lovely! The sort of white sandy beaches you see on postcards but without all the tourists sunbathing along it. The best of both worlds. I dived pretty close to the shoreline but far out enough to be surprised to see people fishing by just standing up in the water with their fishing lines. The water was so clear and warm - much better than UK diving. I didn’t see that many fish because as it was a rescue course, we continuingly had to ‘rescue’ the instructors from all sorts. Varying from finding lost divers and giving first aid to them, rescuing panicked divers and stopping them touch coral.
I fortunately didn’t get to dive today. I was meant to be going out on the boat but found in the morning that I had been kicked off the boat because there were two customers who had made a booking last minute. Although I was disappointed, it was nice to go back to bed for a bit and get lots of theory done. I’ve got a lot of text books to read. There is an encyclopedia to recreational diving. It covers the physics, physiology, equipment, dive planning, general skills and the environment. Definitely don’t have any free time as I was at the dive centre at 7:30 and didn’t finish until 21:00 last night.
I didn’t think it would be the case but I’m struggling a bit with the local food. The western restaurants sell traditional food but it had definitely been cooked for westerners and it is much more expensive. However, I’ve been eating at the places where locals go. I’ve been trying to avoid the chilli by choosing food without obvious red bits in it. Somehow they are able to hide it in everything. The people I was eating with me were laughing at me when eating a selection of different curries. They served the food in this restaurant by giving you a bowl of rice and then lots of little bowls of various foods and you pay for what you eat. The rest is put back in the big pot. I saw someone eating a curry with green beans in it so helped myself to a similar tuna curry with green beans. I found out that they were not green beans, they were very, very hot chillies. I was just in shock, it was so hot. All I tasted for the rest of the meal was hot chilli. Horrible! I ate my next meal at a restaurant were you can see all the dishes and you point to what you would like. Again avoiding red bits I picked my meal. The chicken was quite spicy so I thought I’d eat more rice. I noticed that felt like it like my mouth was burning more and more. I looked closely and one of the vegetable dishes that had been poured all over my rice, had chilli very finely cut up. Another meal of just chilli heat. Another thing that is different with the food is that it is served cold but then it’s really hot with chilli. Also egg curry is a big one. Odd but actually quite good. I am hoping I get more used to it/better at detecting chilli!!
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