Late last night I arrived in Bali’s new airport, cleared immigration and customs and headed out to get a taxi home from the official taxi kiosk. I’ve written about Bali’s airport taxis on a number of occasions, primarily advising of the set fares and updating it when the fares went up after the rise in cost of petrol.
As I walked out of customs, I noticed a taxi stall before the exit (just before they force you to walk through another idiotic duty-free area) and assumed it was one of the overpriced limo service scams like what they continue to rip tourists off with in Bangkok. With no price signboard, I ignored it, and walked through to go to the kiosk.
Problem: The kiosk was gone.
I continued to walk down to where the taxis park and passed some disgruntled looking foreigners heading back up to the terminal. Hmmm, not good. Upon arrival, I found no kiosk and no price list. I did though find a guy in an Airport Taxi T-shirt sitting in the gutter writing out chits for taxis.
“Where you go?”
“Umalas Satu.” (Umalas 1, where I live.)
“The Melasti, in Legian?”
“Umm, no, Umalas 1.”
This was followed by a long discussion between a bunch of the drivers about where Umalas 1 is.
“No, the fare is 100,000 rupiah; I catch airport taxis there all the time.”
“No, 120,000 rupiah.”
Some back and forth here, and there were now myself and two other groups arguing with drivers, then:
“You no pay, you walk out to the street and get your own taxi.”
Ahh, a great welcome to Bali from Bali Airport!
I wasn’t going to budge so I went to walk back to the terminal — after all, you have an official taxi booth to avoid the crap of haggling over a fare. One of the guys then got on the radio and called another driver, who said yes, sure 100,000 rupiah, no problem. We moved to leave.
A female traveller, new to Bali, was asking for the meter to be used and was told, “No no, we’re airport taxis, no meter.”
So a new sole traveller arriving in Bali was being told to pay a random and inflated fare by a guy writing tickets sitting in the gutter.
No signboard. No clear prices. No information AT ALL. Midnight arrival, tired travellers being ripped off by the official Airport Taxi guys. Nice.
Welcome to Bali.
What a disgrace.
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.