Breaking Rules and Giving Bribes to Beat Sundown in Bali

We broke the rules twice (and paid cash bribes twice) to catch sunset at Dreamland Beach in Bali.  Thanks to the determination of my Indonesian friend, Stefani, and her innocent face, we got to witness a dramatic sky of blue, pink-orange and a band of gold before the sun plunged downward into the water at the horizon. 


As soon as Stefani took a turn out of the wrong lane (rather than continue and re-route), we were pulled over by the police.  Not that I would have attempted trying to reason with the police officer from the back seat, anyways, but she instructed the rest of us to keep quiet. Stefani followed the officer out of the car, and silence filled the car as we waited to hear the verdict.

A few minutes later, Stefani climbed back into the driver’s seat. She blinked a few tears out of her eyes, and then squealed with delight!

She then explained, “I gave him some money so he wouldn’t give me a ticket.  He wanted more money from me, but I said I didn’t have any more because I’m just a student.  When he asked me to ask all of you for some more money, I complained ‘My friends won’t even give me one cent!’ ” She put her hand up to her mouth, shielding it as she giggled, quite proud with her negotiations. I guess it helps to be a local! Stefani pulled back into the street and continued to drive towards our sunset destination, Dreamland Beach.


We were just about to arrive at the beach when we encountered the entrance to a parking lot with a sign that read “No vehicles.”  Without hesitation, Stefani drove up the path.  Clearly, she saw the local rules more as guidelines. A few minutes later, we clamored out and raced along a small stream towards the beach.

Brilliant pink and golden hues splashed across the sky, contrasting with a few dark clouds. We joined a few other spectators and drank in the view before finding a seat at an outdoor restaurant as the great expanse overhead shifted to a dark blue and the stars began to peek out.


On our way out of the parking lot, where we parked illegally, a man stopped us. We ended up paying another small bribe. But the bribes and rule-breaking were definitely worth the priceless sunset view on Bali’s Dreamland Beach!

Have you ever gotten stuck paying a bribe in a foreign country? What would you have done in your home country? Share your travel mishaps in the comments below!

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