Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Is Bali bursting?

The Jakarta Post warns that Bali will soon reach a saturation point in terms of its carrying capacity, natural resources and physical space.

A lecturer from Bali’s Udayana University Tourism School, Nyoman Sukma Arida, said: "There have been crucial changes in Balinese culture and the lives of its people due to the flood of tourists and tourism development.”

Bali’s population is now estimated at 4 million, a number that does no include a large floating expatriate population and the daily influx of tourist visitors, both foreign and domestic, approaching 10 million in the course of a year.

Arida continued warning that massive exploitation of water and food resources is taking place. ”Tourist visitors are massive consumers of fresh water, using 1,500 litres per day while the Balinese only need 120 litres per day," he said.

The Bali Hotels Association says its members consume 50,000 cubic meter of water each day.

The tourism academic also warns that Bali’s agricultural lands are vanishing as they are converted for residential and tourism developments.

According to Arida, efforts by the province to earn special autonomous region status for the Island have been unsuccessful. Those supporting the special status for Bali argued that it would provide more central government funding needed to curb uncontrolled development and protect the Island’s natural state.

Also unsuccessful have been efforts by Bali’s governor to introduce a moratorium on new hotel projects in the Island’s south, efforts opposed by the regent of Badung who insists new hotels provide for a wider tax base despite a ponderous over-supply of rooms.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Will there ever be a bogan-free Bali?


Every week, 16,000 rude, lewd Aussies and their badly behaved children head to the Indonesian island of Bali, filling its beaches, bars and hotels.

You meet your first Bali bogan, covered in tatts and wearing a Bintang beer singlet, at the airport in Australia. Then the party gets started on the plane as they crack open their duty-free Jim Beam in the air. By the time they land, they are totally paralytic. Bloated and burping, they stumble into the Bali airport, groping the beautifully dressed women greeting passengers with flower garlands on the way past.

These Bali bogans will spend their holiday bartering in markets for beer coasters, polyester soccer outfits and cotton dresses, enjoying the power play of bartering stall holders down from $10 each to $6 for two. They’ll feel important when they take a 90c taxi ride and tell the driver to keep the change from $1. They’ll talk in temples, ignore signs requesting they don’t take photos, and put tomato sauce on everything.

They’re easy to spot because the dads have lots of tatts, mums have beer guts, and the kids have rat’s tails and corn rows in their hair. It’s no wonder locals feel Bali is in danger of losing its identity in its bid to chase the Aussie tourist dollar.

This is most evident on the streets of Kuta, where bar after bar is packed with Aussies drinking all night long. When bars close in the early hours, they spill noisily into the streets, vomiting in the gutters before passing out on the footpaths. Then they wake up the next day and do it all over again. They don’t care that the man paid to clean their vomit earns less than the price of one beer a day.

They have no interest in trying to understand what life is like for the Balinese. Do the Balinese secretly hate us for turning them all into our servants? What does the man whose job it is to hang out in the bar toilets and refold the end of the toilet paper into a triangle want out of life? Is he happy?

The reality is that the Balinese need our Aussie tourist dollars, but it comes at a high price. The wealth that’s pouring into the country isn’t shared, and it’s just forced the majority of workers into low-paying manual service jobs. This inequality may just be a fact of life in Asian countries, but the problem is that many Aussies have stopped seeing the Balinese as people and instead see them as little more than our servants.

I reckon the bogans should just stay home, and clean up their own vomit.