Wake Up Call For Bali

Mar 31st, 2007, in IM Posts, Opinion, Travel, by

The desperate, ugly state of Bali.

Visitor Susi has submitted this opinion piece about conditions in Bali.

I am extremely concerned about the state that Bali is in today. It is increasingly dire, desperate and downright ugly.

The government, the tourism industry, hotels, and developers have all been "hyping" the heck out of Bali. They have to. They need to promote the island, because their success and livelihood depends on doing so. Brochures, magazines, videos and advertisements all tell us the place is "idyllic", a "paradise", and they go on piling hyperbole on top of cliches to paint a picture of perfection.

The words we see most in their outpourings are: lush, luxury, elite, exclusive, tranquil, pamper, indulge, verdant, bliss, spiritual, haven, serenity, prestigious, gorgeous, unique, solitude, nature, relax, refresh, escape, ultimate, exotic, Eden, oasis, stunning, charming, expansive, harmony and rejuvenate.

I confess, I have been counting words in publications, brochures, real estate marketing materials and government-made Bali-promo materials. I am making an informal study of the frequency these and other marketing cliche words are used.

Read those words again.

Then look around the Bukit, Tuban, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Kerobokan. The words do not match the reality. They simply do not. So, the story is a lie, but those involved in promulgating it need desperately to keep it alive, or they will fail.

They have been listening to each other's rhetoric, too. If one developer begins to lose conviction that his hype is true, he only need listen to the words of his competition to be reassured.

If we allow ourselves to believe the lie that we find most comforting, or most wish to be true, to the extent that we fail to see what is really happening here, we do so at our own peril.

We are all responsible, we are all to blame, and pointing fingers is just another way to delay taking responsibility.

Time for change, or our paradise is on a highway to hell, it seems.

I feel it is time for all of us to look objectively at the reality of the tourism and development focused areas of this island, without the hype.

What do we see?

  • pollution, filthy beaches, surf awash with floating garbage, rivers of raw sewage, mountains of trash dredged up from the ditches, more trash in every nook and cranny
  • broken roads with enormous holes, broken traffic lights
  • no parks or public spaces of beauty
  • sex tourism, prostitution
  • birds dying of avian flu
  • traffic jams, more cars and less parking for them, speeding trucks and bikes spewing black smoke
  • another annual onslaught of dengue fever
  • appallingly ugly buildings, construction sites everywhere to build more appaling ugly buildings, batako walls galore
  • flooding in Kerobokan and Seminyak after one day of rain
  • empty shopfronts, empty villas, almost empty hotels, "for rent" signs everywhere
  • hoardings and banners and signs littering the intersections
  • rampant drug dealing in broad daylight and increasing crime
  • businesses failing and new ones starting willy nilly without any logic or planning
  • greed
  • overcrowding
  • inflation
  • noise pollution
  • short-termism
  • desperation

That is only a short list. Take a walk or drive, and make your own list.

Add to this the insane fallacy that foreigners can own a home in Bali. This is not true, and not likely to become true anytime soon.

Let's all stop deluding ourselves and see what we can do, starting with Things As They Really Are.

As they say in 12-step programs, the first step to addressing a problem is to admit that you have one.

We haven't actually done that yet, here in Bali.

We certainly have a long way to go.

But that is no reason to give up before even starting.

We must start somehow. But how?

Can we?

Or will our addiction to self-delusion, apathy and self-interest above common interests, send us all to hell in a handbasket - and quickly?
What do you think?

By Bule Tulus

(AKA Susi, Seminyak Beach, Kuta, Bali)

Susi is the author of Bali Chic, editor of Bali - A Traveller's Companion, and contributor to Shopsmart Bali & Lombok.


49 Comments on “Wake Up Call For Bali”

  1. avatar Dimp says:

    I know Bali is in a bad state, but didn’t expect to be this bad. I wonder what Jero Wacik (is he still Minister for Tourism) has to say about this. The incompetency of the Minister for Tourism along with the ailing transport industry (again thanks to one of the minister in office) then we have one big problem for the tourism industry.

    So I think not only Bali that need a wake up call but the whole tourism industry. Indonesia cannot only rely on Bali for the tourism industry.

  2. avatar Bumikita says:

    Then look around the Bukit, Tuban, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Kerobokan. The words do not match the reality.

    Bali, thankfully, actually extends beyond these places. Better ruin a few small places but keep the hordes away from the rest of the island which remains true to its superlative descriptions.

  3. avatar Bas says:

    Good description. And it’s not going to improve, especially with that visa on arrival policy.

  4. avatar Susi says:

    Dimp makes good points. It’s true that there are ministers and other officials with responsibility for issues such as tourism and transportation. Unfortunately, Government agencies in Indonesia, including Bali, do not function as they should. The problems related to this, and the causes contributing to it are extremely complex, and deeply rooted. I think we all realize that demanding improvement from the responsible Government agencies is not likely to help at all. At least not in the short to medium term.

    I think we can do a lot as individuals, and among our families, groups, companies, schools, banjars, clubs, etc.

    What we can all do immediately is to begin sharing truthful information about How Bali Really Is Now. Some people would object to that (Ministry of Tourism, for example), because they fear its negative impact on tourism would hurt the economy. This is probably true, to some degree. However, the impact of “false advertising” on tourists visiting Bali could be just as great, or greater. Read on:

    Imagine a family or a couple from Europe or elsewhere, coming to Bali for their hard-earned three-weeks of holiday together. They decide to come here, because of the words and pictures trumpeting a paradise on earth. Then they find themselves in Legian or Kuta or Seminyak and are absolutely horrified by how their experience does not match what they were promised! Disappointment such as this creates a feeling of having been betrayed, lied to, deceived. The effect will be significant.

    A great genius of the early days of advertising once pointed out that a satisfied customer mentions his experience to an average of four other people. A dissatisfied customer mentions his (bad) experience to an average of 37 other people.

    Perhaps it would be better to promise “small” and deliver “medium”, than to promise “big” and deliver “small”. Better yet, as another marketing genius once wrote:

    PROMISE BIG, DELIVER BIGGER.

    We are far away from that.

    And yes, the entire tourism industry needs to wake up to the problems that it both creates, and suffers from, in destinations throughout the world. It is an enormous industry, and still booming. The changes brought by globalism, and by tourism’s involvement in that, are not yet being adequately recognized and addressed. The outcome in the long term, if this situation does not change, will be a detioration in the tourism industry overall, and a collapse of the tourism industry in some locations.

    This seems to be the course we are all on at the moment. I think we can glimpse enough of the end of that road to understand that it is important to change course. Or hit a dead end, eventually (or sooner).

  5. avatar Susi says:

    I agree with Bumikita, in principle on this point:

    Bali, thankfully, actually extends beyond these places. Better ruin a few small places but keep the hordes away from the rest of the island which remains true to its superlative descriptions.

    The reality, however, is not that simple. Not long ago, I recall Seminyak dwellers lolling in their wall-less, tree-shaded and vast gardens (accessible only by trail bike or on foot from Kuta), saying, “Kuta is getting to be hell. Our neighborhood will never be like that! Tourism can ruin a few small places, but we’re beyond the hordes in our neighborhood which remains true to its superlative descriptions.”

    They were wrong, of course.

    Now many people, tourism providers, real estate agencies, and service companies are moving to Canggu, Tabanan, Coastal Gianyar, and other areas on the outer margins of the damaged core of the tourism economy in South Bali. Unfortunately, they are bringing with them exactly the virus that infected and severely damaged the areas they left.

    The pattern is repeating itself over larger and larger areas, with no signs of abatement.

    So what Bumikita says may be true at the moment, but if nothing is done, it will not be true forever.

    Furthermore, the tourism infrastructure in South Bali represents an enormous investment and prospers the one million or so local residents. Is it really fair, because of general delusion and failure to act, that all of these people suffer?

    Additionally, the race is on, with “Otonomi Daerah” (Local Independence), for each regency (county) of Bali to grab a part of the tourism pie. The relevant Government agencies are pushing this very hard. There is significant support at many levels to spread the “hordes” more widely.

    And with things left just as they are, the local players in those areas are likely to imitate exactly (but with less money, less information, less experience, and less discretion), the pattern of tourism development that has so damaged South Bali.

    I think we are called upon to emphasize and underline the harsh reality of Things As They Are Now in South Bali, through whatever channels of communication and friendship and association we have available, so that decisions can be made with a better awareness of the horrors that can come from development, not just the “luxuries” and cash!

    Cheers,

    Susi

  6. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Susi,

    I agree, we as individual need to help the government, what I think the government need to do is to gain the people support. If the government is willing to change for the better and is serious about it, then I believe the people will be willing to do their share as well.

    At the moment the people’s morale is very low, they don’t trust the government, they think that the government only think for themselves (ie. the DPR members keep spending the tax payers money for themselves). When they can gain trust from the people then we as a country can move forward.

  7. avatar Colson says:

    An alarming and, I believe, sound diagnosis. By an obviously informed and engaged person. And, being an occasional visitor only, I’m not entitled to a downright deviant opinion, not even to a modest one. Of course, of course. But I’ve got some questions.

    I wonder whether all of those plagues mentioned above are caused by poor government only. I don’t think any government will be able to mend the situation. Greed, garbage, nightlife, overcrowding, crime or drug dealing are shortcomings of common people and especially “business” people as well. It’s just too easy to blame officials. Isn’t it?

    And how does those empty shopfronts, empty villas and almost empty hotels can be reconciled with overcrowding? What’s the problem supposed to be: too many or too few tourists?

    Moreover, all over the world, centers of (mass) tourism have similar problems. Copacabana, Costa Brava, Thailand – beautiful sceney, sun and sea have resulted in a lot of ugly buildings, ruined local atmosphere, crime and sin. It seems the only choice is between a tourist industry or no tourist industry? But, once the choice has been made, there is no way back. Don’t you agree?

    And last but not least: in my opinion Bali, but for a small part of it, was, is and will be one of the most beautiful and best places to stay, of the world.

  8. avatar Susi says:

    Colson is spot-on.

    The “plagues” are not caused only by poor government, nor should we use the (ostensibly) responsible agencies and officers of government as scapegoats. As I said, pointing fingers at non-responsive others is too often used as a way to avoid taking responsibility oneself for “plagues” one is partially or significantly responsible for oneself. A murderer cannot justify his actions by saying, “But my parents did not bring me up right,” or “Nobody stopped me! The police are useless, it is their fault.”

    And the most intriguing point Colson raises, for me is this:

    how can those empty shopfronts, empty villas and almost empty hotels be reconciled with overcrowding? What’s the problem supposed to be: too many or too few tourists?

    Government agencies say the problem is too few tourists. New targets are made constantly, to raise the numbers of tourists.

    The more serious problem, I think, is too many tourists. Too many for the infrastructure, collective management capabilities, and ability of society to adapt and respond.

    It is foolish to invite more people to dinner, when you don’t have enough forks or chairs to serve the people sitting at the table already. And even more foolish when your house is still a mess from yesterday’s guests (not to mention last week’s), with the smell of rotting food rising from the garbage can, scraps and dirt on the floor, rings on the table, the toilet overflowing, and the electricity bills unpaid.

    I ask you: What kind of a host is THAT?

    I certainly would not want to be that kind of host, and if We The People Who Constitute The Society of Bali choose to behave so badly, then SHAME, SHAME, SHAME. We may get what we deserve.

    Cheers,

    Susi

  9. avatar Magy says:

    Friends of mine went around Bali, and they loved it. They didn’t want to stay in Kuta or any other place possibly to be hit by terrorists. Around the island, however, they felt totally safe, and after 3 weeks they wanted to come back again, overwhelmed by the friendly people, beautiful settings and low prices.

    Perhaps one problem also is financial. After terrorists ruined the safety associated with Bali, incomes almost disappeared, and has since only partly recovered. If you hardly have money to cover even the most basic expense, things like cleaning and fixing roads, unfortunately are put off. It could become a vicious cycle, that reinforces itself. But perhaps Bali was “ugly” even before hell broke loose?

    Miami Beach and Marbella are fine examples of that you relatively quickly can restore and improve on these things. Bali is, unfortunately, forever associated with Islamic terrorists, so I guess they really had their way, to weaken RI, but Egypt has exactly the same problem, and even though bomb blasts as late as 2006 tourists still keep coming. It is important that you don’t concentrate everything in one place. Tourists feel safe in Egypt because you have so many different places to stay around. Bali traditionally has had only a few, making it more vulnerable.

  10. avatar Julita says:

    If we allow ourselves to believe the lie that we find most comforting, or most wish to be true, to the extent that we fail to see what is really happening here, we do so at our own peril.

    We are all responsible, we are all to blame, and pointing fingers is just another way to delay taking responsibility.

    Time for change, or our paradise is on a highway to hell, it seems.

    I feel it is time for all of us to look objectively at the reality of the tourism and development focused areas of this island, without the hype.

    What do we see?

    pollution, filthy beaches, surf awash with floating garbage, rivers of raw sewage, mountains of trash dredged up from the ditches, more trash in every nook and cranny
    broken roads with enormous holes, broken traffic lights
    no parks or public spaces of beauty
    sex tourism, prostitution
    birds dying of avian flu
    traffic jams, more cars and less parking for them, speeding trucks and bikes spewing black smoke
    another annual onslaught of dengue fever
    appallingly ugly buildings, construction sites everywhere to build more appaling ugly buildings, batako walls galore
    flooding in Kerobokan and Seminyak after one day of rain
    empty shopfronts, empty villas, almost empty hotels, “for rent” signs everywhere
    hoardings and banners and signs littering the intersections
    rampant drug dealing in broad daylight and increasing crime
    businesses failing and new ones starting willy nilly without any logic or planning
    greed
    overcrowding
    inflation
    noise pollution
    short-termism
    desperation
    That is only a short list. Take a walk or drive, and make your own list.

    My dear Susi, you post very strong words and you mean by doing so you will help Bali? Is it only Bali? My family and friends went there and they loved Bali, they are looking forward to be back, lovely surroundings, their world famous culture, their friendliness, their service all over. Don’t expect for a small fee to get a 5 star hotel. Try Conrad Bali can you compare it to other hotel in the world with the same price? So sorry, to me yours is an exaggeration, you can advise them but don’t touch or mingle with their business. They were alright and I hope they will be able to stand up again from the shock. Poor Bali people, my compassion.

  11. avatar Dewaratugedeanom says:

    Sad but oh so true.

    Finally somebody dares to pierce the balloon full of hype and lies.

    Of course the list is not complete; add to that
    – dogs roaming freely day and night, barking, chasing you, causing (deadly) traffic accidents, but nobody cares or does anything about it;
    – extorsion by naughty (nakal) police officers, immigration and other officials, so that hotlines had to be created for complaining;
    – constant hassle by annoying locals and street vendors (pedagang acung) in tourist areas and near ‘obyek’ wisata'; in this respect the Gunung Batur area is downright appalling, with cheatings and threats and even physical violence; etc. etc.

    I am a ‘bule’ but I have been living in Bali for seven years and the only reason I still come here are business and friendship ties. If people at home ask me about Bali I feel ashamed, and I will never recommend it for making holiday except if one is really interested in its culture and religion. The ‘tourist industry’ – why do they always call it like that? It sounds as if people or tourists are some kind of product or machinery – the easy dollars and uncontrolled growth and ‘modernisasi’ have imposed a heavy toll on what once has been the next best thing to paradise. Miguel Covarrubias (although he predicted it in his book “Island of Bali”), Walter Spies, Colin MacPhee and so many others who more than half a century ago fell in love with it, wrote about it and put it on the map would certainly turn around in their graves if they would see what has become of it.

    As for the future, I’m not very optimistic. People – also those in reponsible positions – still think it’s ‘BOM I’ and ‘BOM II’ that are to blame for the downturn, but they forget or don’t dare to look into their own bosom. Or is it the old Indonesian “blame others do nothing” syndrome? It’s true that Bali isn’t some oasis and that it also makes part of the world, but the downfall won’t be stopped with laughter and ‘omong manis’ only. Something needs to be DONE. A little bit of ‘konfrontasi’ won’t do no harm, isn’t it Bung Karno.

    So where are you, proud Balinese, who once preferred ‘puputan’ over losing your dignity and your unique lifestyle?
    Wake up and Sava da flava.

  12. avatar Bin Camel says:

    I like Bali very much, I went there more than 10 times, regret to some people who have negative perception, yes it has some negative points like jihadist action with bombs, indigenous who worship evil (yes, evil! you can check by yourself, some evil statues are in front or their temple) western influence (drugs, sex, even traffic jam) as the result of opening Bali internationally and commercially, people of Bali and its government will continue to explore to every single penny they can suck from every aspects of Bali.

    Nevertheless it’s still beautiful island, I plan to spend holiday with my family next year when I visit Indonesia, I hope there will no jihadist bombs anymore.

  13. avatar Teng says:

    Bali was awful even before the bombings. It was the most disappointing place I have ever visited. It has been a tourist place since the invention of airplanes for citizens.

    Did you know Bali was the first place a commercial airplane landed? KLM started commercial flying, and what better place to land then the sweet island of Bali.

    I’ve been to the east of Bali which I actually kind of liked, although the kampung-fights I witnessed, and the scary locals who forced us to use their transportation were kind of a let down.

    But Kuta sucks hard. It’s the most awful place I have ever been in Indonesia. Whores, drugs, annoying vendors and half-naked annoying Aussies. I was so relieved to go back to Jawa.

    I’d rather go to Lombok anyday, although that is becoming Bali 2, it changed so much in two years time. :(

  14. avatar Parvita says:

    Then look around the Bukit, Tuban, Jimbaran, Kuta, Legian, Seminyak and Kerobokan. The words do not match the reality. They simply do not. So, the story is a lie, but those involved in promulgating it need desperately to keep it alive, or they will fail.

    Bali is not just these places, of course. Bali is still a good escape from big cities. Those are tourist places with too many Australian students who wants to party. Try Lovina, Tulamben, Candi Dasa, Padang Bai, Pemuteran, Menjangan, Nusa Lembongan, Nusa Penida. I still get pampered and get in touch with the nature in those places (note these are diver’s hang outs). The most I get harassed is probably from those old women selling shells, massage women and beach boys that sell sex, which, they do it because they have poor marketing skills. But don’t we all get harrassed in Jakarta anyways, by ayam-ayam, and by big fat ugly old bules who doesn’t need money, police, bus drivers, motorcyclist, the mosques, aaarrrrgh, being in Bali is still a good escape as long as you know where to go!

  15. avatar Dewaratugedeanom says:

    I quite agree with Susi that it seems as if the tourism industry, with the emphasis on industry, has played a major part in the continuous ruining of this extraordinary beautiful place. The question in my mind is: how come a society with a unique culture like the Balinese that has been built over more than a thousand years, suddenly needs mass tourism for its survival?

    To create a culture like this one needs lots of free time, and free time is only available in thriving economies. So in my opinion, considering the splendour and wealth of this culture, Bali must have been very well off in the past. Then why suddenly put your eggs in one basket and risk losing everything overnight? Not to mention all the negative side-effects that come with mass tourism.

    Aren’t there any other possibilities for development and keeping up with the rest of the world? Nature here is so abundant that if you put a stick in the ground next day it bears fruits (words from a Balinese song). Why not put it to use with advanced horticulture or stock-breeding? People here seem to have a natural endowment for art and handicraft. Why not expand on it with more advanced management and marketing techniques? Of course this takes time, effort, education and most of all a change in mentality.

    Contrary to local belief, money in the West doesn’t grow on trees. And as long as one considers it preferable to buy a motorbike on credit, sit down by the side of the road and shout “transport” to any passerby that looks like a foreigner, things won’t change for the better. Still worse, why go to school or try to get a job if you can easily earn 10000 Rp or more by putting on a sad face and go begging in the streets. I know I am talking only about a small minority, but this is what jumps in your face, especially in tourist and more populated areas. The sad thing is that nobody reacts. Just accept and keep on smiling. ‘Nerimo saja’.

    This been said I apologize to the hundreds of thousands of Balinese that work daily very hard to keep their families and relatives alive and well. May they prosper.

  16. avatar Susi says:

    I think Julita’s point of view deserves attention. She is speaking, I think, as a tourist who was satisfied with her experience in Bali. She notes positive points:
    – value for money at five star hotels.
    – lovely surroundings at five star hotel complex.
    – culture.
    – friendliness.
    – quality of service.

    I agree with all of those points, and my original comments in no way contradict them. However, each and every one of the “blemishes” I mention in my original piece is not an exaggeration, but a simple statement of fact. Those “blemishes” are real, and appear to be worsening.

    If I did not see the value that Julita remarks upon, I certainly would not have bothered to say anything at all.

    If Bali is reduced to walled complexes of bargain luxury surrounded by something resembling the slums of Mumbai, will we be happy? Will the residents of the high density tourism locales be happy? Will the tourists who find themselves imprisoned in hard-bought facsimiles of paradise be happy? Those are questions to ask ourselves.

    It’s also interesting to note that the concept of “value for money” is problematic. Bali for at least the last 80 years has been able to offer something of exceptionally high quality. If it is sold too cheap, however, it is no longer sustainable. We may have a situation of “low self esteem” whereby the “product” which is Bali is being sold far too cheap. Bhutan is an interesting case study. The king of Bhutan, who I have met, and with whom I have had some interesting discussions, said, “I care more for the gross national happiness of my people than for the gross national product of my country.” A wise man. He has chosen not to sell cheap something that is exceptionally valuable; not to devalue it and suffer the consequences.

    Sell cheap, and the effect of cost-cutting, or “loss leading” has to come out somewhere. Sell below real value and someone will pay the difference. Many of the people living outside the five star hotel complexes in Bali seems to be paying a bit of a price these days.

    I don’t think what I said in my original piece was an exaggeration at all. I can back up every statement with facts, statistics, photographs, and corroboration of experts.

    Nevertheless, this is not in any way to deny that there is tremendous beauty here. Quite this opposite. I write in its defense.

    If Bali chooses to become the bargain destination for people seeking a five star experience at a two star price, I’m afraid it is bound to end in tears.

    Better perhaps to offer Bali at the price it is truly worth, and let someone else be the WallMart of mass travel.

    Also, I do not “touch or mingle”. Bali is my only home. I care.

    My dear Susi, you post very strong words and you mean by doing so you will help Bali? Is it only Bali? My family and friends went there and they loved Bali, they are looking forward to be back, lovely surroundings, their world famous culture, their friendliness, their service all over. Don’t expect for a small fee to get a 5 star hotel. Try Conrad Bali can you compare it to other hotel in the world with the same price? So sorry, to me yours is an exaggeration, you can advise them but don’t touch or mingle with their business. They were alright and I hope they will be able to stand up again from the shock. Poor Bali people, my compassion.

  17. avatar Niamh Piperman says:

    Why oh why do tourists insist that Balinese are overwhelmingly friendly? They’re not. They’re no more friendly than any other human on this entire planet – humans are humans. I get so sick of utopian stereotyping, or reverse-colonialist generalisations. Once a tourist spends more than a few weeks in one place, learns the language, marries into the culture, only then do they realise that the utopian tourist perception is only that – a superficial, uninformed and colonialist perception.

    My wife and I have never had a good time on Bali, for the very reason that 99% of the Balinese we dealt with were not friendly, but merely opportunistic, and treated my Javanese wife with no respect and in fact most of them considered her to be a prostitute (Wedding ring, respectable attire, black hair, minimal Jewelery, glasses – and yet she can’t be anything other than a hooker in their eyes).

    Learn to speak Balinese and I bet every tourist who thought Balinese were friendly will realise what exactly is being said behind their backs.

    Same thing happens on Java, in Jakarta, in fact anywhere in the world. There is no utopia.

    There was a good video put out by an Australian education department called ‘Done Bali’. An inciteful look at Bali as being no paradise – that Bali as ‘Paradise’ is a western concept invented by the likes of Walter Spiers and 19th Century European tourists, and that the is no word or concept of ‘Paradise’ in the Balinese language. Do the Balinese consider Bali to be Paradise? Hell no!! Do they wish they could make a decent living without having to depend on tourism? Probably hell Yes!

    To insist that Balinese be friendly and highly aware of their traditional culture is in itself a colonialist mentality. I pity them that they have to endure this unrealisitic stigma. Just let them get on with their already difficult lives without insisting that they somehow find the time to break from trying to make a living at the office or rice farm to demonstrate to hoards of tourists that they are the tourist’s utopian ideal of humanity.

    Cheers,

    NP

  18. avatar Susi says:

    Very Important Points here to address:

    how come a society with a unique culture like the Balinese that has been built over more than a thousand years, suddenly needs mass tourism for its survival?

    I have a few things to say in support of this viewpoint.

    And would love to hear in the meantime, the candid, open and heartfealt points of view of you Balinese asli persons reading all of this.

    Don’t be shy now!

    Cheers,

    Susi

  19. avatar Susanto says:

    Police Looking at Websites that Attack Bali and its Tourism Industry
    ______________

    To my opinion Bali is also overflooded with people, most from Australia who are only seeking beer, women, cheap hotels and so on. It must be cheap, cheap, cheap.

    They aren’t there for the balinese culture. What culture? Most of those people don’t even have a culture theirselves.

    And also most of the revenues (and income) of those hotelchains will go outside the island.

  20. avatar Magy says:

    The views expressed in this thread on Bali are, in my view, too negative. In fact, I have noticed, almost all articles and remarks on this site are 99% critical and negative, not very constructive and absolutely of not meaning for creating a better RI whatsoever. The site “Indonesia Matters” is not a place to discuss, but rather to “puke” negative opinions and feeling about RI. This is certainly my impression.

    RI is portrayed to be almost Arabic and Sharia, half Islamic terrorist hangout, with a corrupt regime and lazy people, an economy in ruins and a bleak future. In fact I get pretty depressed when I read this site, as of lately. I thouth IM was a great site were discussions could be held on things to improve and how to do it, not just “puke” ones anger or hit out at RI and Muslims at all cost.

    The facts are that RI is not Arabic and Sharia, it has even had a female President, and public holidays on major religious festival days of all fatihs, its not an Islamic sanctuary, RI deals harshly with any kind off terrorist regardless of religious belief, the regime is not more corrupt than you would have expected of a country in the same economic phase of development, and its certainly not more corrupt now than under Pak Harto, the economy is blooming, 6% growth, and only FDI has gone down substanially, but this is not unique for RI, all countries hit by 1997 crises has had the same development, RI has never had a larger foregin reserve, lower inflation, potential for growth, the future is not bleak, its very positive and Bali is, of course, not some kind of “garbage” millions of visitors every year, and increasing, wouldn’t be arriving if it were so bad as portrayed in this tread. Things could obviously improve, on that we all agree. I just think its not very construcitve to have 99% negative. How about a thred with some positive developments for a change. OR perhaps editors of this thread think there aren’t any?

  21. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Magy,

    To fix a problem one must admit that there is a problem, RI is not all doom and gloom but as you can see people are just accepting every fault without admitting there is a problem in the government.

    You said “RI is not Arabic and Sharia” but it may be heading that way if people are not making their opinions heard by the leaders, leaders who allow FPI to thrive, leaders who let people like Abu Bakar Bashyir to preach hatred to the people (BTW, why do we let foreigners like him to tell what Indonesians must do).

    Yes RI is not unique and all countries hit by the crisis in 97 have the same problems, but they all have tried to fix those problems, Thailand, Malaysia have all bounced back. We are still a couple of step behind our neighbouring countries, yet some people (like yourself) are saying that we don’t have a problem.

    Magy, can you do one thing, wake up and open your eyes, go outside your “gold cage” see the real world out there, 40% of Indonesians still live below the poverty line, that is 100 million people are still struggling to get by on a daily basis, yet you say that Indonesia is not unique? Who cares about the other countries, let them deal with their problems, this site is Indonesia matters, not “Other countries” matters.

  22. avatar Ihaknt says:

    I think Bali is just like any other places. Some people have better or worse experience than others. Like I don’t like Paris, crap food, expensive, dirty, dusty and sooo not what’s it’s raved up to be, although I didn’t find Parisians as rude as their reputation. Anyway just don’t have expectations and go with the flow and just enjoy the experience, good or bad. It’s always fun to share your holiday experience anyway, whatever it may be.

    I have to admit I feel much safer and more carefree in Bali than in Jakarta.

    Susanto, how could you say that “they” don’t have “culture”. Just because they are different from you doesn’t make them culture-less.

  23. avatar Julita says:

    Visitor Susi has…………….

    Susi: Also, I do not “touch or mingle”. Bali is my only home. I care.

    That solves it Susi, I was kind a upset to hear that Bali has become so run down as you described. I love the people what they did with the bombing was so, so sad. They live from tourism and they were good at it, simple, pleasant, peaceful and now people are hesitant to come back, I really hope with time it can get better again. As stated I thought you were a visitor saying all the above. Though if it is your home, by all means do something. I said before, our guide said in past they could leave their house unlocked nobody would come in and steal, or put their bicycle anywhere, nobody would take it. He said with the new comers things has changed.

  24. avatar Susi says:

    Going back to a comment of Dimp’s:

    we as individual need to help the government, what I think the government need to do is to gain the people support. If the government is willing to change for the better and is serious about it, then I believe the people will be willing to do their share as well.

    At the moment the people’s morale is very low, they don’t trust the government, they think that the government only think for themselves (ie. the DPR members keep spending the tax payers money for themselves). When they can gain trust from the people then we as a country can move forward.

    Who can deny there is truth in this statement?

    At the same time, I think among us there must be many people who have seen some improvements since “Reformasi” began. It is important to applaud the work of the individual members of government and others in positions of authority and power (e.g., police officers, civil servants, etc.) who resist the temptation to abuse their position, and who actually carry out their duties responsibly. It happens. Often. More often, I think, now, than in the past.

    The media find little value, however, in reporting a job done correctly or a decision made fairly.

    I wish there were ways to record, publicize and applaud the good work that is being done. There are people in government who haven’t given up hope, and do their work with a clear conscience. Let’s hear about them.

    Personally, I have been treated very well by police, immigration and customs officers and other civil servants many, many times in recent years. I have even had “tips” refused (politely). Things do seem to be improving.

    Let’s hear about that!

    Then perhaps the situation Dimp describes, which resembles an irreversible downward spiral, can be reversed after all.

  25. avatar Dimp says:

    Hi Susi,

    I agree wholeheartedly, the downward spiral can be reversed, but as you previously stated we need to admit that ther is a problem. The government need to admit that they still have work to do before awarding themselves, the people need to realise that there is no values by denying that there is a problem.

    What I object is the attitude of the people that compare our problem with countries that have worse condition than Indonesia, what is the point of that. When you receive a bad mark on your exam, you don’t compare this to the lowest score that you can get, you compare this to the highest score. The same with our country, instead of comparing to countries that have higher corruption, lower income, civil unrest, why don’t we compare ourselves to developed countries with high welfare, low level of corruption, thriving economy, etc. etc.

  26. avatar Colson says:

    Magy: Up to a point I have to agree with you – Bali (and RI for that matter) isn’t a total disaster area. But it isn’t a good news show either. Not at all.

    Ihaknt: Paris, crap food? You must be kidding. I’n not particularly fond of the city, but les Parisiens are still experts on art and food. Next time around ask for someone who knows where to go.

  27. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Well Colson, it’s just that after Rome and Venice, nothing really beats those simple pizzas and pastas. And don’t get me wrong, I agree with you in regards to food art (especially the desserts. YUM), but as the hot food goes, I always go for simplicity. For me if it looks good on a plate but taste crap on your palate, then it’s crap food. I always am open to any suggestions, especially when it comes to food and restaurants from different parts of the world!

  28. avatar Susi says:

    I feel compelled to make a personal statement here (and by doing so to reveal exactly who I am!).

    Susanto has posted a link to an article which appeared last week, which reports that Bali’s police chief has been shaking his spear at an alleged “syndicate” of bali-bashers. (I post the item in full below. Please read it.)

    Lest anyone should think that I am a bali-basher, be aware that:

    I wrote the guidebook on Bali, Bali Chic, which has been a bestseller at Periplus bookshops throughout Indonesia for over a year, and has been favorably reviewed throughout the world. Google it. It’s available on amazon.com in case you want to read it.

    I was also the editor for the third edition of Bali-A Traveller’s Companion, another bestselling guidebook available throughout the world. And I wrote the section on “Antiques and Artefacts” for another recently published guidebook, Shopsmart Bali.

    Additionally, over the past ten years I have written articles celebrating many aspects of Bali’s culture in magazines and newspapers around the world, and for important tourism promotion websites and blogs. I have given lectures, presentations and produced programs for many important institutions throughout the world, praising the cultural and historical riches of Bali, and other parts of Indonesia, as well.

    I am not a bali-basher, but a “bali-booster”.

    This will put my expressions of concern about the island in their correct perspective.

    Cheers,

    Susi

    Sunday, 25 March 2007
    Police Looking at Websites that Attack Bali and its Tourism Industry

    Speaking to Local Media Bosses, Police Chief Purwoko Questions Both the Motives and the Tactics of Those Seeking to Discredit Bali Via the Internet.

    (3/24/2007) An article in the Indonesian-language NusaBali indicates that Bali’s Police Chief, Inspector General Paulus Purwoko, is having a closer look at foreign Internet Operators working to discredit Bali’s international reputation. In a meeting with local media leaders, Chief Purwoko said the presence of an international syndicate seeking to damage Bali’s reputation was proven by the various Internet site’s contents which unfairly portray and defame the social life of the Balinese people and the Government of the island.

    In discussing the sites, whose contents are the part of an ongoing investigation and have been the focus of formal complaints by, among others, the Bali Tourism Board and the Bali Hotel Association, Chief Purwoko complained of the unbalanced slant of the information presented on the sites which endeavour to ridicule the police, immigration, customs, hotels and various local businesses.

    The several sites which attempt to negatively impact on tourism to Bali by urging a boycott of the Island, are seen by Purwoko as having ulterior motives in trying to thwart Bali’s recovery and divert business to competing destinations in the region.

    Purwoko urged the Press local press to continue to act responsibly in reporting news affecting the Island’s future welfare.

    © Bali Discovery Tours. Articles may be quoted and reproduced if attributed to http://www.balidiscovery.com.

  29. avatar Colson says:

    Freedom of speech is one of the main pillars of civilization. It’s by far more important that a poor infrastructure.

    Although it will not be of much help to you, I would like to offer at least moral support against this kind of threats. Gentlemen like general (?) P.P. are the ones who have real “negative impact” on Bali’s reputation.

    Susi, I wish you all the luck and success you need. Your success would help Bali prosper.

  30. avatar Susi says:

    Important to Mention Here.

    Indonesia has declared that 2008 will be “Visit Indonesia Year.” A bold move. Perhaps it will put pressure on everyone and anyone to “clean up the house” to welcome all of the guests who are expected to arrive.

    And yet, it seems somehow premature, and risky.

    Will it increase the eagerness of terrorists to make a big statement when the world is looking? (Counterbalancing this, and making me breathe easier is the astounding work being done to bust into the backrooms of terrorist networks in recent days. Surely this has been the culmination of months, and years of work on the part of those involved.)

    Will the house be in good enough order to avoid embarassment? (I for one, will certainly do whatever I can to help on this front.)

    One hopes and prays that the world can see that Indonesia’s opportunities for fantastic travel experiences, is much, much more than just Bali.

    Java is fantastic and gorgeous and welcoming, and in many ways is more stunning even then Bali (beaches, mountains, diversity, tea plantations, endless miles of country roads, seldom visited archaelogical sites, food, music, dance, artists, artisans, intellectuals, mystics, Java is bursting with all of this.)

    Sumatra is like a vast continent where many wildly contrasting cultures exist abutting on each other geographically, but worlds apart, not to mention empty beaches, huge mountains, wildlife, forests, rituals, strange and bizarre music, tribal peoples, really really ancient culture . . . hello, this is the island-continent that was home for the Sriwijayan Empire with riches and culture rivalling the Khmers, and the matrix of wisdom for the Lojong Teachings of Tibetan Buddhism which are one of the main grounding structures of Tibetan Buddhism as practiced the world over. OK Sumatra is a marvel, don’t forget the Sumatran Orangutan Society, otherwise known as SOS who are doing marvelous work, google them.)

    I could go on and on, and probably will.

    Nusa Tenggara, oh heavens, what a paradise, you cannot imagine the scenery, beaches, cultures, and lovely, lovely people, who in my experience are just as welcoming as the Balinese, but with less material “stuff” to offer. You can certainly be their guests, but don’t expect to put on the Ritz, unless you go on an ultra luxury Pinisi boat like the Silolona, or stay at the Amanwana on Pulo Moyo off Sumbawa, or Nihiwatu in Sumba, but so many other options abound, just go, nothing to stop you but the slight hassle of popping a malaria pill now and then and taking a few Powerbars in your bag for those days that may be scanty on haute cuisine.) Roti, Savu, Flores (another island-continent), Timor, Alor, and more.

    Maluku, I swoon, there is so much there, islands that are icons of tropical bliss and cultures that knock your socks off. Fancy watching some (legal) whaling done by hand?

    Sulawesi, don’t get me started. Manado is dive heaven. The Togians, don’t mention them. Torajaland a misty mystical coffee and culture rich highland world untu itself. And more, so much more there.

    Now let’s talk Kalimantan. You want diving? You want big scenery and life-altering culture? Just go.

    Aduh, sakit jari2 saya, overdosis ketik.

    We haven’t mentioned Irian Jaya yet. Glaciers? Yes. Birds of Paradise? Yes. Don’t ask me, ask Patty Seery, mastermind behind the Silolona, and travel guru extraordinaire for Irian experiences. Yes, and beaches, too, don’t worry about that.

    Phew.

    I would like to see “Visit Indonesia Year” be not all about Bali. Not to take the wind out of Bali’s sails (already struggling in gale force), but to spread it around a bit, and increase understanding of this vast land.

    Balinese complain an awful lot about inmigration of people from elsewhere in Indonesia. And it does cause some problems. If elsewhere had some visitors, too, maybe those people would stay where they came from, enjoy it, and thrive.

    Much better picture, that, than the situation as it looks now?

    Signing off,

    Susi

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