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 Julita says:

    Susi, is this what your intention in the first place to spread tourists to other parts of Indonesia? Very good idea. You give all the beautiful descriptions and leave Bali in the cold. Are you sure in the other parts visitors will have a better treatment (perhaps cleaner because there are less people (visiting) and littering). Balinese are peaceful people, Hindu Bali is their main religion. Their dances, movements, their vibrant music, beautiful offerings to the temples, natural surroundings, their services to tourist is unlike others. Unique Bali the land of Paradise. No, this you can replace it, but since what those rascals did, of course there are many other places to visit, people want to enjoy their vacation but number one also to know that it is secure, any where in Indonesia, this is important.

    You know I lived in Indonesia part of my life, we have a hotel, while being there and help managing the place, I noticed that there always have to be a persistant, trust worhty and kind supervisor. Remember that popular Major (forgot his name) of the Jakarta, it was said he would drive around Jakarta to see that everything was done accordingly.

    Susi another thing is Bali has not only a good air-port but also a tastefully decorated, beautiful architecture compared to the other places you mentioned. Flying direct to Australia and Singapore. Well, perhaps with time, yes I hope tourists will visit this beautiful country but please, make sure, security is in control this is important. Yes, I am telling you this because looks like you are in this field.

  2. avatar Niamh Piperman says:

    Julita Says:
    April 4th, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    Balinese are peaceful people, Hindu Bali is their main religion. Their dances, movements, their vibrant music, beautiful offerings to the temples, natural surroundings, their services to tourist is unlike others. Unique Bali the land of Paradise.


    What makes you think that this is Bali and that it represents some utopian paradise not found in any other part of human civilisation?

    What if the Balinese discarded all these fancy trappings of traditional culture – “Their dances, movements, their vibrant music, beautiful offerings to the temples, natural surroundings,”

    Would they no longer be the peace-loving Balinese that you insist they be?

    Unique Bali the land of Paradise.

    Do the Balinese see their home as unique and a Paradise? These are very colonial notions that the Balinese I feel are struggling to maintain for the benefit of the tourists, whilst also struggling to keep up with modernised society.



  3. avatar Bas says:

    So now they want to try to close Websites that say the truth about Bali and Indonesia. They may think that will be easier than admitting how bad the situation is. But they are wrong. More and more people are aware of the true face of Indonesia. Both inside and outside the country. You can’t hide the truth for ever.

    Wherever you are in this country from Malls to the streets of kuta it’s always the same “mister. mister, give me your money mister” (money usually used for gambling and visiting prostitutes friends).

    Once I asked about 15 travelers in Yogja wich countries they have visited and which was the one they dislike most. About 90% told me they fell the most insecure in Indonesia. Indeed if anything bad happens to you I guarantee NOBODY will help you. All they want is getting your money and laughing at you. That’s it.

  4. avatar Colson says:

    @ Bas: If your out and down, nobody cares in RI- but that’s the way it is in Montevideo, Moscow, Pjongjang, L.A. or Bangkok and the rest of the world. But if one just can not stand this human condition in Jakarta, one has no obligation to spend even one minute in RI, unless, perhaps, when you are an Indonesian by birth.

  5. avatar Julita says:

    Bas, you don’t have to agree with me, that is my own opinion, I like the people.

  6. avatar Dewaratugedeanom says:

    In the Balinese tourism ‘industry’ nowadays ‘branding’ is the number one item on the agenda. The old slogans like Island of the Gods, Morning of the World, Land of a thousand Temples, seem to have lost their appeal, while countries like Thailand with Amazing Thailand, Malaysia with Malaysia Truly Asia and India with Incredible India seem to be more successful in attracting tourists. So how about this for a new slogan: I Love You, Give Me Money, which is how tourists are welcomed by the children that roam about the Besakih temple-complex. It exactly symbolizes the attitude towards tourism of a substantial part of the Balinese population.

  7. avatar Susi says:

    Inggih, DewaRatuGedeAnom!! You have quite a sense of humour. “ILOVEYOUGIVEMEYOURMONEY”.

    I remember when I was in Haiphong in 1995, and wherever I went I was MOBBED, almost wrestled to the ground by bands of small children shouting: “HELLO! MONEY! HELLO! MONEY!” That is precisely what they were shouting. Just that, in rapid-fire, piercing voices. This went on virtually nonstop. In an historic town square, I was ambushed so badly I had to flag down a rickshaw. The driver had to hit and kick the children to make them get away so we could be on our way and they ran after us down the street. Some threw things at us and screamed.

    You think Bali is bad in this regard? Whew. Could be a lot worse.

    Funny how the hellomoney syndrome happens some places and does not in others. Travelling in Burma I have never had problems like this.

    During twelve years in Bali, I have only been badgered for money at the following places:
    – Besakih (only until I had learned to speak Indonesian and Balinese well)
    – Lake Batur (chronic, but I think there have been efforts to reduce this problem)
    – Penelokan (chronic, too, but I think they are Tampaksiring kids, pushing pencils)
    – The rice field view areas around Ceking (pencil-pushers from Tampaksiring again)
    – Beaches in Buleleng and Karangasem
    – Seraya (this was the worst ever, but the poverty was beyond horrific, we refused their demands for things, then sent a local friend back later to give the kelian desa a bag of shirts, and some money)

    It helps to speak the language. When kids attack me when I am showing friends around Bali, I address the apparent “leader” firmly in Balinese or Indonesian and say, “Hey, pal, leave my guests alone! They dont’ want to be bothered. If you all stay right here [pointing] while we enjoy the view quietly [or picnic or whatever], I will give you Rp [_state amount_] , to divide up amongst yourselves. And no we do not want any painted pencils. None.”

    They are always happy to oblige. I figure it is a cheap price to pay for some peace. I usually give only Rp 10,000 or so. Fair enough.

    Yet I feel guilty because even this approach encourages more harassment of tourists in future.

    To mitigate my guilt, sometimes I talk with the kids after paying them off. I discuss with them in “SD Teacher” style, what they are doing, and what its effects might be, then encourage them to think of other ways to relate to tourists. Often what comes out is a general notion that it might be better to be polite (like they would with strangers around their own home), and try to make some kind of useful contact with the tourists. Many Balinese people over the years have found that if they treat tourists like a guests (rather than ATMs), they can often have an interesting exchange (even in broken English), and sometimes meaningful relationships evolve from that, or useful understanding is gained on both sides.

    Kids who made friends with foreign visitors rather than harassing them, have sometimes found themselves gainfully employed, or found a penpal/benefactor, found a new friend who kept up the friendship, or learned something that they could put to use further down the line in their lives. Some have found business partners this way.

    My point is usually that they will be better off finding ways to have a more meaningful (and possibly more “lucrative”) exchange with tourists, rather than one purely based on extortion.



  8. avatar Susi says:

    I want to add this. It’s important.


    The little painted pencils with carved fish and things on the tops, and fish magnets, are made in Tampaksiring by certain “entrepreneurs” who exploit child labour in horrible ways.

    The more pencils and fish magnets you buy, the more kids will be coerced, tempted and threatened into making them . . . sometimes to the extent that they do not go to school at all, because they are harangued into filling “orders” for the boss. It’s really an ugly situation.

    Don’t buy the pencils. Better to give cash and let them keep the pencils. Or don’t give anything at all. Give through other avenues if you feel compassion for “less fortunates”.



  9. avatar Susi says:

    Finally, I have a moment to return to the Very Important Point:

    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?

    Simple answer:

    They don’t need it.

    Furthermore there is some bizarrely naive misunderstanding of the basic principles of economics here in Bali at all levels.

    Supply and demand curve? Know about that? Intuitively or otherwise?

    Raise the “price” until you hit that ideal spot on the supply/demand curve!

    How can people say the Balinese are greedy for struggling so hard to get more tourists in the door? Not greedy, just naive. Or stupid.

    If they were indeed greedy, they would have figured out how to charge the maximum price possible in order to keep the same total revenues. Far, far fewer tourists would be here, only the ones to whom the price was “worth it” or who were able to afford it. This would mean fewer villas, fewer bars, fewer paved-over rice fields, fewer cafes, hotels . . . but still the same amount of money coming in. Imagine that.

    This “alternative-but-possible reality” would also create natural incentives for cooperation (rather than vicious and fruitless competition and jealousy), effecting a fine antidote to the “iri” syndrome, where people here tend to hate their neighbors for succeeding (with a warung, bungalow, cold drink stand, sarong stand, whatever), and respond by badmouthing them, attempted sabotage by devious means, or . . . most often . . . by going into direct competition against them. Then we have nine or nineteen or ninety sarong sellers all in a row, competing with each other. Prices go down so far, none of them are making any money at all! It happens EVERYWHERE here, ALL the time.

    When the sarong prices (or bungalow room prices, or whatever) go down so far, the vendors need to respond by finding ways to get CHEAPER inventory. Quality drops. The downward spiral accellerates.

    And this model applies not only to the sarong-selling level of the economy here. Bungalows, hotels, villas, nightclubs, you name it. They syndrome is acute, and I hope not chronic, or fatal!!!

    The analysis above does a lot to respond to Julita’s ill-founded “defense” of Bali which was based partly on the fact that you can get a five star hotel room cheap here. That is post patently NOT a Good Thing!

    In fact it underlines the problem, highlights it, and illustrates it.

    I say “fie” on those who celebrate the five star room at a two star price as evidence that Bali is “good” and “everything is beautiful”. It’s heinous, actually.



  10. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:

    Susi’s opinion piece and her – from the name I guess she is a woman – reactions to the comments on it give the impression that she is a caring person who is actually suffering from a condition called ‘Bali Blues’. All foreigners that once got fascinated by this place and stayed here for a while are affected by it sooner or later. It’s like falling in love with a princess and then find out that the veneer of beauty also conceales a dirty tramp that is only interested in your money. Pulau indah, pulau sampah. Nevertheless I hope her engagement pays off, cause her viewpoints are right on spot. But the problem has to be solved by the Balinese people themselves. If they cannot impose to themselves the discipline to let things develop the way it was meant by the ‘leluhur’ (ancestors) by adhering to their wonderful values and principles like ‘Tri Hita Karana’, but rather give in to non-confrontationalism, indolence and shortsighted materialism, then all measures from government agencies, foundations, NGO’s, interest communities and so on will be in vain. Civilisations do not change overnight but have to adapt to changing circumstances. Disrupting factors have to be dealt with cautiously but firmly. If waste disposal and treatment still poses technogical and financial problems, at least prevention can be obtained by discipline and education. Although the ‘adat’ (traditions) still works fine in itself, it is the culture shock between traditional lifestyle, modern technology and overnight developments for which the ‘adat’ contains no provisions, that mainly is to blame for the bad state now. A change of attitude is needed urgently, if not then it’s ‘Bali Done’. Mogi-mogi Bali ajeg.

  11. avatar Dewaratugedeanom says:

    I would like to post another statement here that is certainly going to raise a lot of bad blood and I’m risking to be stamped as negativist. Nevertheless, here it comes.
    Once I had a conversation with an elderly Balinese gentleman about the state of Indonesia in general and Bali in particular. As I wondered how come in a region like this with such abundant natural resources there was still so much poverty, backwardness and ignorance, his straight and blunt answer was, and I quote literally: “It’s the quality of the people. ‘Katak di bawah tempurung’“. I was really shocked to hear it coming from a local mouth and I still find it hard to beleive.
    But what do we see?
    60 years after independence the country looks like a mess and is still lagging behind it’s smaller and less endowed neighbours. Emigration (perantauan) of the willing and able has become a political problem.
    Nature is raped, planes fall out of the air, trains derail and ships burn or sink almost on a monthly basis. Is this really coincidence or is it plain neglect? Anyway people just don’t seem to give a damn. Too busy watching ‘sinetron’ or sending SMS.
    Many believe that in order to develop one has to destroy first. Natural beauty is there to be shamelessly exploited. Have a look at the Ceking rice-terraces in Bali, it’s pathetic.
    KKN, pungli, upeti, from high to low. Every Indonesian knows what these words mean. All had and still have to deal with it on a daily basis. The problem seems almost genetically determined.
    Violations of human rights in certain places, should they still be denied?
    After the trials in Sulawesi for sectarian violence, can one still pretend that in Indonesia there is no double standard in upholding the law? Why are the Bali bombers still alive and kicking, busy getting laptops smuggled into their cells?
    Is it therefore any wonder that some parts of the country put their hopes on sharia law, which in itself is certainly not in line with the history and character of the region?
    President Sukarno, first-time nationalist and founding father of this republic, once called Indonesia a nation of coolies and a coolie among nations. Sad, but true. Should something be done about it or is it ‘nrimo saja’?
    Where are the new ‘dalang’ to instruct and educate? Because Indonesia matters, you know.
    Thank you for reading this.

  12. avatar Susi says:

    I received an email today outside the blog, from someone I will call “X”, as follows:

    Dear Bule Tulus

    I think that this is mainly for Balinese people to take care of and not for the “tamu” guests.

    I think that people here and everywhere else are motivated by greed and that they will start caring when they are convinced that by spending a bit on preserving nature they will benefit ultimately by attracting more tourist and investment.
    Another point you have not made is that the Balinese are selling their lands to outsiders to pay the bills (a lot of this goes into ceremonies) and that their children might find themselves strangers in their own (devastated) land soon.

    Regards. “X”

    My response:

    Hi, “X”,

    You wrote:

    I think that this is mainly for Balinese people to take care of and not for the “tamu” guests.

    Yes. Point taken, to some extent.

    When “tamu” get involved in efforts and organizations to manage, control or “help” Bali, it often goes sideways somehow, and almost always strikes some very dissonant chords.

    A very small scale example is the tempest that blew up when a small “do-good” organization of bules did things like holding barbecues for a number of Indonesians who lost family members in the first bombings. Very interesting points were raised about the appropriateness (or inappropriateness) of both their efforts, and the views implied by them.

    A very large scale example is the effect of World Bank loans used (or rather abused) for the Bali Urban Infrastructure Project! Again, “tamu” but from a greater distance, made a bit of a muddle of things, and certainly upset a lot of people, and wasted a great deal of money.

    You wrote:

    I think that people here and everywhere else are motivated by greed and that they will start caring when they are convinced that by spending a bit on preserving nature they will benefit ultimately by attracting more tourist and investment.

    And absolutely, you are right again! People are motivated by greed. But “greed” is perhaps too pejorative a term. Let’s state it more objectively and accurately. People are motivated by self-interest, which is very normal, and includes basic desires for things like self-preservation, comfort, and the respect (and love) of other people. Excessive self-interest is greed. I don’t think this characterizes most people. Some, but not most, and certainly not all. If you disagree with me on this, perhaps you should find some new friends or move into a new social milieu! 😉

    And yes, again, it makes sense to assume that people will start to take better care of their assets when they realize that to do otherwise would be self-defeating, and would go against their own self-interest (or greed). If people are to come to that realization usually requires time, compelling evidence, information and quite a bit of discourse. This is exactly why I chose to speak up, and have also spoken up in Indonesian-language media. To do otherwise would be careless.

    Certainly, “tamu,” tourists and others should participate in this discourse if they have something of relevance to contribute to it. We are civilised people, after all, living in society with one another. Tamu are undeniably part of Bali’s diverse society, whether they want to be or not. Within its actual, and broadest scope, the diverse society of Bali contains many subsets, one of which is the Indonesians who are “Suku Bali”, born in Bali, living in Bali, and are Balinese Hindus. This subset, which is still the largest one, is rightly regarded as having a very special position among all subsets of society in Bali, due to its indigenousness, primacy, and central role in creating and sustaining the particular “Bali-ness” on which the fame and fortunes of this island are founded.

    So, this is quite a story, after all.

    What we see is this particular subset (the largest one, the one which “owns” the “Bali-ness” that has been the backbone of development here all along), being in a very difficult position indeed.

    They are the ones who “make and do” the “Bali-ness” of Bali. Which is what “sells” the whole island. And everyone profits from it, even those who have no hand in “making and doing” the “Balin-ness” they profit from.

    Something seems slightly unfair here, already. Then to toss the burden of working out the problems of over-development back onto the Balinese (meaning: “Suku Bali”, born in Bali, living in Bali, who are Balinese Hindus), is perhaps a bit much.

    You wrote:

    I think that this is mainly for Balinese people to take care of and not for the “tamu” guests.

    Hmm. So we throw that all in the lap of this (majority) subset of the island’s society? With what reasoning? The following perhaps?:

    They made all the stuff that made the island famous. (“Bali-ness”)
    – Therefore they are responsible for cleaning up all the mess that people from all over the world (including them), have made by clamouring pell mell to get their piece of it.
    And to keep “making and doing” the “Bali-ness” that Bali’s success is founded on (ceremonies, traditional dress, hospitable behaviour, gracious manners, temples, traditional music, traditional dance, and so forth).

    This doesn’t sound quite right somehow. If I were part of the majority subset of the society of the Island of Bali, I would be feeling very confused and very stressed at this moment.

    Wouldn’t you?



    P.S. About selling land (your last point). You wrote:

    Another point you have not made is that the Balinese are selling their lands to outsiders to pay the bills (a lot of this goes into ceremonies) and that their children might find themselves strangers in their own (devastated) land soon.

    People everywhere tend to make facile arguments surrounding this issue. Rather than go into that labyrinth right now, perhaps we can just look at some places in the world that have dealt rather more intelligently with their own success, and desirability as real etate, than Bali has so far. Take the most desirable areas of Morocco. The laws there (enforced rather consistently), allow foreigners to buy land, but no less than one hectare, and they may make only one residence per hectare of land. Development there is smaller in quantity, but greater in quality. The impacts on pre-existing local societies are less abrupt, and the inputs to their economy are greater. The impacts on the environment are far less. The calibre of people able to meet these requirements are proving to be beneficial to the quality of life for the areas as a whole, rather than the opposite. This is by no means the only place that has managed an “over-desirability problem” in this way. Similar systems are also working in the San Juan Islands (Washington State, USA), certain islands in the Caribbean, and elsewhere. The values of real estate in all sectors in these areas go up, the quality of life, and the beauty of these places increases, rather than decreases. The vision of an “elite,” “luxury” future is sustainable, not self-destroying. I believe there are other solutions as well to the problems of an area that is highly desirable to outsiders. No reason why some efforts in these directions can’t begin (or begin to be enforced) in Bali.

  13. avatar dewaratugedeanom says:

    Hi Susi,
    I hope these discussions could be carried on on a more specialised blog or website, cause the array of topics treated in Indonesia Matters is so vast and diverse that after a certain time interest fades and follow-up on interesting topics comes to a halt.
    As to Bali, I am glad to have found in this thread people like you that to a great extent seem like-minded. I really love this place – be it also for personal reasons – and I feel very sorry that something as beautiful as it ever was is going down the drain. Beleive me or not, but the best time I had in Bali – I know it sounds cruel – was end of 2002 beginning of 2003, right after the first bombings. Bali was Bali again. No more pub-crawling Aussies, no more gigolo’s trying to have a go at stupid and ugly sheila’s, no more ‘transpot’ on the streetside, no more hassle, just peace and quiet, the Balinese trying to come to terms with the events but at the same time going on with their ‘upacara’ with even more fervor. Just like it was before the ‘tourism industry’ syndrome. Nature seemed to be given a break with less pollution. Even the uglyness seemed less ugly for a while. And quiet oh so quiet…
    Also very interesting people took a stand in newspapers and publications, prominent Balinese personalities who were fully aware of the problems their habitat was faceing, and who now took the opportunity to come forward and speak up. I remember articles a.o. of the president of the ‘Forum Merah Putih’ from Ubud, of Bali’s most prominent psychiatrist and writer Luh Ketut Suryani and many others who stood up and pointed out the real problems. The sad thing is that with time their voices became dim, overwhelmed by the rhetorics and machinations of greed and power. When after some time tourists started creeping in again things soon went back to ‘normal’, the price of petrol going up a bit seeming of more concern than traffic jams and air pollution. Overbuilding and greed once more reigned supreme. And now it seems af we are back were we started and that no lessons at all were learned in the aftermath of these gruesome events. Bali menjadi-jadi.
    So I’m really pleased that you launched your Wake-up Call for Bali, even if and especially because it goes against established interests. But it needs follow-up and I think that with your background and the connections that certainly come with it, it certainly is worth to try to mobilise the brains and the goodwill of intelligent people everywhere. If a sustained and big enough (why not worldwide, globalisation might be good for something) effort can be put up and the pressure kept on, perhaps the tide can be turned. If not, one can at least withdraw saying “we didn’t give in without a fight”. You can certainly count on my support.

  14. avatar wayne says:

    Bali is not the only destination in Indonesia that faces this problem, Have a look at many of the major population centres and you will see the same problem cropping up, As far as the polution, empty shopfronts,overcrowding etc etc this plague effects vast areas, I may get some very unwelcome posts from this next comment but since Suharto was ousted Indonesia has been slowly sliding, Before ( In the Suharto era ) Indonesia was a safe vibrant country, Albeit there was still corruption and extortion, However this was not as noticable to tourists and visistors as it is today ( Two police walked into my inlaws house when myself and my wife were visiting and carted away my father in law, the reason was an extortion attempt to get money for his safe return, He was carted away because he never informed the police that myself, ( Expat ) and my wife were in the area) That has never happened before in 14 years, Yes sad to say Indonesia is in decline in every sense of the word, It is going to take alot of hard work by the people ( not politicians, they are only feathering their own nests ) to pull the country out of the mire

  15. avatar Susi says:

    You’re right, Wayne.

  16. avatar Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    Assalamualaikum Pak mingo, police usually target Chinese families. Your wife’s families are not Muslim as you claimed, because the local masjid iman will give the police a dressing down. There goes your cover. Not that I care but I believe honesty to be the best policy.

  17. avatar Robert West says:

    XMAS VACATION 2008. Walk along the Kuta beach, thousands and I DO Mean thousands of dead fish, sea snakes and even Puffer Fish, sad but true. Water full of plastic bags and a plain lack of locals in the sea. Just a few surfers blind with excitement to pollution they will absorb.
    I ventured in knee deep. Same night red rashes appear on my legs and itching. I spoke to a few local people who told me there may have been poison in the water from a river upstream. Not my field so I don’t know. The sea was foul, the beaches full of wood and carrier bags and s#$%.
    Call this paradise.
    Give me a break. Indo corruption is to blame partially, the cops do nothing about endless traffic jams from the airport, parking is just mad with motorcycles blocking every where, cars double parked, there is trash abound and nobody gives a hoot, men just have the energy to shout “transport!?” half heartedly and they always are trying to get a non-meter price forom all tourists. Bloody shame on them, they deserve all they get. Useless prats.
    When you arrive you pay for a visa on arrival, now up 50%,when you leave you have to pay too!!! What a bloody system for raking in the dosh. If RI is ever to survive itself, then it needs major reform and someone brave enough to make the decision that need to be made, not pissing about an doing nothing or spending on advertising, its just amazing that all the hotels where full this Christmas, maybe people want to be near dirty water, filthy beaches and give their cash to feed corruption.

  18. avatar Nathan says:

    I am a regular traveller and surfer in Bali and am very intrigued by your comments. I am especially impressed by you list of breadth of knowledge of the Island and literary achievments.
    I agree with most of your comments regarding the state of the island but I cannot help but love it just as much as when I came 20 years ago as I do now. I love the fact that it is such a melting pot of so many cultures and has such a rich international flavour. For e’g I find it hard to tolerate being caught in traffic in peak hour swallowing fumes to go 2 km but I love sipping a local beer of an evening at an amazing restaurant while my daughter is in the expert caring hands of a trusted local nanny.
    My point, I am trying hard to begin business on the island in property but am, like yourself concerned about the state of the future of the island and especially the way the island plans for more tourism and development. I believe SouthWest Bali is losing its lustre for tourist wanting a more stress free holiday experience. I am in early concept stages of a villa resort for surfers on Bukit and would very much like to get your constructive opinion on the future of tourism development and here your thoughts .
    You hit the nail on the head with your comments. Very sad. Why is it that I still want to move there?

  19. avatar uglybali says:

    I couldn’t agree more with the fact that Bali is becoming dysfunctional – and the Balinese are to blame, with their foolish focus on naben (the cremation ceremony). The expense of these has escalated, while the bid to “show off” has come to predominate, thus prompting families to off productive farmland. This is being snapped up by foreigners in dubious deals with Balinese partners, hence the mushrooming of so-called villas – and the downward spiral of Bali that we see today – crime on the increase; trash all over the place (do you want to swim in a sea whose currents sweep plastic garbage past you?); roads clogged by ubiquitous sand trucks ferrying material to construct those villas – trucks which destroy the very roads they travel on, kill people as they speed when empty to their sand sources, and cause both air and noise pollution.

    Balinese culture is anachronistic and dysfunctional. It is incapable in its current form to confront these issues, since nobody wants to disturb the status quo. The governor is complicit in allowing the decay to occur – indeed, many Balinese see him as an instigator of the degradation as he seeks “business opportunities.” Bupatis are no better. The populace continues in its New Order fear of defying authority.

    Want a reliable worker in Bali? Hire a Javanese, for Balinese are too intent on preparing for the next upacara (ceremony) to bother about a small inconvenience like showing up for work. Have a small problem to deal with? Don’t bother going to the local village authorities, because no matter what, you’re a foreigner who should be thrilled that you’re being allowed (note:not welcomed, but allowed) to live in Bali. Want your employees to deal with a petty theft when you know who the guilty party is? Forget it if the person is related to an official or belong to a higher caste. expect community action for anything – solid waste management, actions against sand trucks, anything – you must be joking. Complacency and stupidity predominate; why are kids still taught to sweep the schoolyard and dump the sweepings into the nearest irrigation ditch? Why do parents accept the fact that Balinese teachers take so much time off for upacaras?

    I’ve lived in Bali for the past 10 years. It’s been in a steady downward spiral for half this time, and it will only become worse. Soon enough most of the island will take on the supreme ugliness now encountered in Kuta and, increasingly, Ubud.

    One day the Balinese will wake up to what has become of them, and the resultant upheaval is unlikely to be peaceful. The rivers of Bali are said to have run red with blood during the 1965 action against communists, while many of the killings are known to have been a settlement of personal animosities. Worried about the next bomb in Bali? Don’t be, because it’s unlikely that you’ll be caught up in it. Live in a villa built on someone’s former ricefield, and the odds may not be so large.

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