They all have scratch cards which they give to couples and couples only – they don't get a finders fee for bringing in single people or those outside the age demographic of whatever resort they're selling. And the woman always wins the consolation prize of 2 t-shirts and the man always wins the grand prize which is a meal voucher worth US$15-20 and either US$500 or a video camera or a free holiday. All you have to do to find out which prize you've won is go along with him to an office, where, he may or may not tell you before you get there, you'll have to sit through at least an hour of timeshare presentation. Of course, you always win the holiday and of course, it's always in a timeshare resort and before taking it you have to agree in writing to attend another presentation when you get there. And pay a US$50 or $100 booking fee. Once inside, the sales reps can really put the pressure on – there's no wonder timeshare has such a bad name. Of course, if you have the time and inclination you can play the game – it's something of a sport. An hour isn't such a long time for a free feed in a good restaurant (we rarely pay more $1.50 each for a meal here). And as the touts get US$100 for every pair of sucker they bring in who sits down for more than an hour, they're highly negotiable on the value of the meal voucher (about US$15 is the starting offer), as it gets taken out of their finders fee. You can get yourselves a massage as well. And a full day tour including petrol. And if we can get into a good timeshare resort which we would be going to anyway at US$100 for the week, rather than the US$300 we would normally pay, we can sit with our ears shut for 61 minutes. The look on their faces when they realise you aren't going to buy is priceless. Not for everyone, but as I say, it's sport. Not like we don't have the time,eh?
The food is as good as ever, when you can find someone not intent on taking an early retirement on the strength of your business. It's one of the most annoying things here. OK, we are tourists and compared to 99% of the population here all tourists are incredibly rich. That means we pay higher prices than the locals. Fair enough, we can afford it. It really irks though when they try to overcharge to the point of being ridiculous, even in warungs (local restaurants). We use nasi goering, good old Indonesian fried rice, as the great leveler. We always ask how much it is, even if it isn't what we are going to order, just to see by what margin they're going to rip us off. Nasi goering should cost IDR5,000 in warungs and food stalls used by locals. Quite a high number of warungs quote just that, with a few charging up to 50% more, which we figure is acceptable. Some warungs in tourist areas have menus in English and are charging IDR13,000 to IDR15,000 for nasi goering- there's no way a local person could afford that (or would choose to pay it even if they could). Others don't have menus in any language. They aren't used to tourists finding them or deigning to eat at them and mostly don't speak English, but they still want to charge “stupid rich tourist” around IDR15,000. and Even the food stalls that set up by the side of the road at night, with none of the costs of operating a shop front warung and no electricity or running water will often try to charge this. Worst is when they smile and have an undisguised discussion between themselves about how much they are going to charge before telling you. To westerners, it's incredibly rude and I would hazard a guess that to be so blatant would be unacceptable in their culture too. There is no way most tourists are going to pay what, in effect, is almost the price they would pay in a tourist restaurant with clean tables and the basic hygiene standards that go along with hot running water, for rickety stools and questionable hygiene.