Beware prices and local guides at Tanjung Puting
Replies: 11 - Last Post: Dec 7, 2012 10:48 PM Last Post By: dougv
Dec 5, 2012 5:25 AM
Beware prices and local guides at Tanjung PutingI have spent several years in Indonesia, exploring its coastline and mountains and personally encouraging foreigners to explore its more remote areas. But never until now have I encountered such racism and rudeness. I had planned a 3 day 2 night trip in Tanjung Puting (actually the 1st and 3rd days are both half days) for January for 3 people. Unfortunately, despite plenty of contacts from friends and friends of friends the prices suggested were sky high... i.e 7-8 million rupiah, much more than acquiantances had paid in 2011.
I asked for reductions in that manner that is tedious but sometimes necessary in Indonesia in order to secure a fair price. Still no decent price was offered. 2,850,000 per person was on the table. I asked what the price was for Indonesians. 1,850,000. One million rupiah (circa 100 USD) less per person. I commented that this was outright racial discrimination against non-Indonesians and that I would report this to Lonely Planet. After this I received somewhat threatening emails from two of the men who are guides in the national park and appear to live in Pangkalan Bun. It seems that there is a cartel operation whereby anyone who isn't Indonesian gets charged a ridiculously high rate, making a trip to the national park out of reach for many travellers. I live in Jakarta and pay considerable taxes to the Indonesian government but because I have white skin (or, rather, because I am non-Indonesian) I have to pay the inflated prices too,.
The next email I received droned on about 'being fed up with 'colony of a foreign nation'. Not sure who they are referring to as the Dutch were booted out in 1945. I suppose all us non-Indonesians look the same the the villagers in Pangkalan Bun. IE dollar signs on our heads.
After all this it has become apparent that all guides and boatmen in the national park have gathered together and been informed that a white man dared to accuse them of racism when they attempted to charge a higher price for services for a foreign person. Well, if I'm not right on this then 2 and 2 does not equal 4.
Difficult to know what to recommend except to urge Lonely Planet to look into this and suggest that foreign tourists consider even bothering with this place. It is obviously an amazing place for flora and fauna - but shame about the local people.
Dec 5, 2012 7:13 AM
1You wrote: "I asked what the price was for Indonesians. 1,850,000. One million rupiah (circa 100 USD) less per person. I commented that this was outright racial discrimination against non-Indonesians"
I am not an English mother tongue, so I could be wrong. But in my country "racial discrimination" has a completely different meaning. Here in Italy you can talk about "racial discriminatoin" if the rights of a people or of a group of people have been removed/denied because of the colour of the skin or because he/she/they belong to a certain ethnic group.
As far as I understand, in the case you describe I would speak of a "discount to resident people", which is a quite different issue from "racial discrimination".
Dec 5, 2012 7:29 AM
Really2 sorry to heard what happen to you. well, based on my experience case like this happen to indonesian people too not just for foreigner. My advice is you get detail information (included budget/price) of your destination before you go to trip. if you have enough information you can prevent if you have case like this.
Dec 5, 2012 3:46 PM
Dec 5, 2012 5:48 PM
Dec 6, 2012 12:15 AM
Dec 6, 2012 2:45 AM
6Are you able to post the names of the guides or business you were dealing with? And perhaps, if you don't mind, paste the insulting email, so we can all read it.
Could it be so high because you were trying to arrange it through a guide in P. Bun rather than in Kumai itself directly with the boat owner?
Dec 6, 2012 6:26 AM
Dec 6, 2012 11:37 AM
8There is a tiered pricing "system" throughout Indonesia that is irritating. I travelled to Kutai National Park
only after hiring a guide who was well worth his fee as he negotiated down the inflated costs I'm sure I
would have had to pay were I to rely on my own negotiating skills. Taking a public minivan one day, after
seeing all the local riders pay their fare, the driver then tried to charge me triple what the locals were paying.
I simply handed him the fare the locals were paying and told him that was all he was getting. As a traveller,
you are seen as being able to afford more, and, in addition, some operators will exploit the situation even
Dec 6, 2012 2:13 PM
Dec 6, 2012 5:26 PM
Dec 7, 2012 10:48 PM
11Welcome to Indonesia. But this is common all over SEA, re: local vs. tourist prices. The logic is if you are a foreigner, you must have more money or you could not even afford to travel thousands of miles in a big fancy jet plane to get there. Many people in SEA have never traveled beyond their home towns/villages! Better not get in a car/scooter accident if you are driving, either. Foreigners are usually wrong, and kooky logic(at least to me) is that the accident would not have happened if you had not been driving through the area, therefore it is your fault.
Different part of the world, different rules. Bargain hard with polite humor and you can get decent prices, but you will rarely get the same deal as a local. Get used to it. The good thing is that foreign tourists are not hassled by the police nearly as much as locals because tourism is important and you can get out of situations easier by "acting dumb and eating with both hands" or try communicating in the local language - that is enough to frustrate most authorities into waving you on.
I actually had some fun once in Vietnam trying to convince two pretty girls at a museum in Hue that I was Vietnamese so I could pay the "locals" price for entry. Yeah, right, a big 6'2" white guy with round eyes, but it was fun and they had a laugh. Still had to pay foreigner price.
(4 star Hotel)
From US$109.40 per night
(5 star Hotel)
From US$118.18 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$53.93 per night