Tips and advice for travelling in Bali, by Dewaratugedeanom.
Following the suggestion of iamisaid (another commenter in this blog) in his opinion piece "Travel Horrors" I would like to submit a surat pembaca published in the Bali Post of April 11, 2006 by a Balinese individual whom I suppose to be a member of the Indonesian police force.
As the letter was published in Bahasa Indonesia I took the liberty to translate it into English for those who are less familiar with our national idiom. Coming from an Indonesian citizen with a public function I consider the message ample food for thought. Therefore I will refrain from adding my own comments except for some advice for the benefit of visitors to our beautiful island.
Experiences from accompanying visitors in Penelokan.
Last March 29, 2006 around 14.30h I came to the 'obyek wisata' (officially recognized tourist site) of Penelokan, Kintamani, Bangli accompanying a group of 4 guests from South Korea, 1 adult woman with 3 small children of less than 10 years of age, to enjoy the beauty of the Gunung Batur volcano and its Batur lake.
As soon as she stepped out of the car tens of hawkers surrounded my guest, offering their merchandise in a rather obtrusive manner so that my guest felt disturbed and didn't have a chance to enjoy the beauty of the scenery. Hoping not to be bothered any longer, my guest bought several goods that were offered for sale. But after buying these items the hawkers did not go away but on the contrary came in even greater numbers.
The problems started when a hawker came who offered a chessboard for sale.
In order to attract the attention of my guest the salesman in question offered a chessboard that he wanted to sell to my guest at the price of $1. However, when my guest paid the price that was offered she wasn't given the chessboard but only one of its pawns. Thinking that she was fooled by the merchant, my guest felt disappointed and quickly wanted to get into the car.
The chessboard hawker followed us to our car and prevented her from closing the door while he kept on forcing her to buy his merchandise for the price of $30. My guest said she didn't have this amount of money, but our hawker ordered her to withdraw the money while he pointed at an ATM terminal on the other side of the road.
This situation caused my guest, who is a woman, and the children to become increasingly afraid. Then I asked the hawker to let us close the door and leave, so we could continue our scheduled tour program for fear of being late because that day coincided with 'pengerupukan' (the evening before Nyepi, the Balinese New Year).
It wasn't an answer that I got, but blows on my face and my body from more than three men, friends of the chessboard hawker. One of them took me by the collar of my shirt while he threatened me with a knife and told me that he was going to take out my bowels. This situation was witnessed directly by my guests. They were extremely frightened and cried all the way back. Unfortunately there was not one security guard on the premises, not even in the guard house at the entrance gate.
I hope that the government of Kabupaten Bangli and all parties concerned will undertake the necessary improvements and redress the situation in respect to the hawkers who operate in the Kintamini tourist area. If they leave it like it is now it's not impossible that the Kintamani obyek wisata will undergo the same fate as Besakih or Trunyan, beautiful but uninteresting.
I Nyoman Gatot Wiradnya
Asrama Polri Kreneng,
Some advice for travellers to Bali.
More to come with "jual-beli ekor" (cattle marketing).
Om santi santi santi om.