August 14, 2019

Light-fingered tourists are shamed in Bali

Proving the old adage that “if it’s not nailed down…”, a family has been publicly shamed in Bali after a swag of hotel appliances was discovered in their bags. In a Facebook post, the Sukawati Police said it was alerted after the guests from India were seen throwing items from their room into a vacant lot next door. The bags contained several appliances, including mirrors, hairdryers, coat hangers, and liquid soap dispensers. A video of the incident at the Villa Royal Purnama has had over 400,000 views. In it, one of the guests pleads for forgiveness: “I will pay. Extra money I will pay.”

Twitter user @hemanthpmc, who posted the video, called it “an embarrassment for India”. “Having lived in Indonesia & visited Bali, I can personally vouch for Indonesians being the gentlest, most respectful people I have met. They hold India & Indians in very high esteem & its gut-wrenching to see us in such a compromised position,” he wrote. Police say the guests returned the items, apologised and paid compensation.

While taking the toiletries is a common occurrence for hotel visitors, some more “enterprising” guests happily bag anything. An article on Smart Travel Asia claimed towels and light bulbs are the most commonly lifted. Also fancied are bathrobes, leather items (blotter, telephone pad), alarm clocks, hairdryers, pillows, cushions, drinking glasses and feather duvets. Other light-fingered favourites that appear on travel and hotelier blogs include vases, batteries and even the ever-present Gideon Bible. A survey found that more than a quarter of Kiwi travellers have admitted to stealing things from hotels, with the most-stolen item being magazines and books. [ July 31, 2019]

Tourist threatens Bali beachgoers with knife so his wife wouldn’t see shirtless men

A tourist got him and his family kicked out of their luxury villa in Bali, Indonesia after arguing with locals and allegedly threatening them with a knife. The foreigner, who rented a luxury villa in Temukus Village in the Buleleng Regency on Bali island, got into a confrontation with Balinese locals who were enjoying the beach outside their rental. He reportedly ordered the beachgoers to leave the area so his wife wouldn’t see “partially-dressed” men.

The locals insisted that it was a public beach and they had a right to stay. “Shut the f*** up! I told you so, this is a public beach. All the people can come,” one of the locals, identified as Gede Arya Adnyana, shouted at the tourist. The tourist kept arguing that the residents should leave because they rented a private villa. This further infuriated Adnyana who was captured on film shouting at the tourists, “I don’t give a s**t, I told you before.” In an interview with Kumparan News, Adnyana shared that he was spending time with his three-year-old toddler on the beach Sunday night when a young boy speaking Arabic approached them and asked why they were there. In response, Adnyana told the boy that the other side of the beach was too mossy. “After a few minutes, his father came and started talking rudely, trying to send me away in English. Basically, he said that if I wanted to use this beach I have to ask for permission because he’s rented the whole place, from the villa to the beach,” Adnyana was quoted as saying. “I asked what the reason is? He replied, ‘I and my children are Muslim and do not allow her (wife) to see other boys, especially you only wear boxers.”

As they argued about who has the right to use the public beach, the resident eventually called his brother, who is a village official, to get the matter resolved. However, the confrontation escalated and the tourist brandished a knife at the locals. The local authorities, who arrived later, failed to resolve the matter. Eventually the villa caretaker just told the tourists to leave the premises. After being told to leave, the tourist became apologetic and pleaded to be allowed to stay there but the local residents refused. “He and eight of his family members left from there, we escorted them to the border of Temukus Village. [We told them] to visit other places outside of Bali,” Adnyana said. Noting that such incidents were common in the area, Adnyana suggested that the village officials should issue a regulation that would recognize that the beach is for public use. [Nextshark July 25, 2019]

This is what life is like in a city where the air can kill you

In my first year living in an industrial, traffic-clogged mega-city, I was not that fussed about air pollution. Then my baby son started coughing. My family had just returned from a trip abroad with lungs full of crisp, clean air. As our plane descended from the big blue into a dense, brown blanket of smog, I thought something onboard was burning. But it was Jakarta’s smoggy air all along. Two days later, our boy started waking up in the night with coughing fits – nothing particularly unusual for a 15-month-old. But that was almost six weeks ago. Almost every night since then, we have been up with him in the dead of night, often for several hours, trying to prop him up, give him water, anything to ease his discomfort.

In the meantime, I have become completely obsessed with Jakarta’s air. Instead of my phone, I now reach for the air quality monitor when I first wake up. I have taped up almost every window and door in our home and had quality air purifiers installed in every room. Among the lucky few in this city who can afford to take such measures, we have taken our baby to Bandung, Bali and soon to Australia, to get some relief. The vast majority of people here just have to cop it.

Over the last two months, Jakarta has almost constantly ranked in the top 10 of the world’s most polluted cities, according to AirVisual data. For three consecutive days this week, it has been ranked as the world’s smoggiest. Bizarrely, the most dangerous pollutants, known as PM 2.5 – particles smaller than 2.5 microns, which is about 25 times thinner than the width of a human hair – have been spiking during quiet periods. Jakarta usually enjoys rare blue skies in June, thanks to a mass exodus for the Eid al-Fitri holidays, but not this year. In the last month, some of the highest levels of air pollution have been recorded early on Sunday morning, during the city’s ‘car-free day’ when motorists are banned from the roads. “The spike data is starting from 12:00am until 9:00am,” said Bondan Andriyanu from Greenpeace Indonesia, who has been monitoring the levels of PM 2.5. “This is [some] of the evidence that [when] we are talking about sources of air pollution, this is not coming from transportation.” Official data suggests transportation makes up 75 per cent of air pollutants in Jakarta – but that was published in 2012. There has been no publicly released data since then. “Somehow they stopped doing it and now the debate is happening in the public. Where is the air pollution coming from?” he asked.

At the Pasar Minggu Children’s Hospital in Southern Jakarta, paediatrician Ardentry, who uses only one name, has been concerned by children’s chest x-rays. She said around half of the patients who come to her clinic have breathing problems, and it seems to be getting worse. “I’ve been observing this for a couple of months,” Dr Ardentry said. “Children who’ve been coming to the hospital with breathing difficulties and fever, their lungs showed more obvious and significant spots and infiltrations compared to those … in the previous months before dry season.”

There is no direct scientific link with the worsening air pollution, but the smog is clearly not helping. Yesterday, a group of concerned residents took the matter to court, hoping to force President Joko Widodo and Governor Anies Baswedan to improve the quality of air. “We are hoping that the Government performs [its] duties that [are] prescribed in the law, that they have to maintain the air quality to be safe and healthy,” said Nelson Nikidemus Simamora, one of the lead plaintiffs. Another plaintiff, Veronica, was merely hoping for reliable information about Jakarta’s air quality and how best to protect her six-year-old daughter, who has asthma. “In the mornings [it’s] terrible. It’s getting harder for her to breathe,” she said. “I’m not really into environmental issues. I’m not an activist. I want to know more from the Government. I think that’s my right to know.” By David Lipson. [ August 2 2019]

Swiss national deported by immigration for allegedly having sham marriage with local resident to stay in Bali

The immigration office in the city of Singaraja in North Bali says they have deported a total of 19 foreign nationals since January after authorities found they had either overstayed their visas or abused their residence permit. As reported by Tribun-Bali, these foreigners came from a number of countries, including Malaysia, China, the Czech Republic and Germany. They had been living in different areas, such as Buleleng, Karangasem and Jembrana.

Immigration officials say the most recent case only happened about a week ago and involved a Swiss national who was deported because she allegedly married an Indonesian in order to remain in the country. According to Gusti Agung Komang Artawan, who heads the Class 2 Immigration Office in Singaraja, the Swiss woman had a sham marriage with a man from Karangasem, allegedly in order to gain legal status in the country. “They are legally married, but they live separately. The man was paid IDR 1 million per month by this foreign national. So we deported her,” Artawan said, as quoted by Tribun-Bali.

Artawan said that his office would step up surveillance on tourists visiting the island, including through stronger cooperation with other relevant agencies. “If it’s solely from Immigration, it’s a little bit difficult to monitor, and we hope we will get support from other agencies. Basically, monitoring foreign tourists is not the sole [responsibility] for immigration, other agencies with their relevant functions must also monitor. There must be synergy,” Artawan said. [Coconuts Bali July 21, 2019]

Big change for tourists heading to Bali

Australian tourists heading to Bali on-board a budget airline will be forced to land at a new airport several hours from popular holiday hot spots on the island. The new airport, which will begin construction in early 2020, will be built at the opposite end of the current one in Denpasar and will cater for passengers who use budget airline carriers. According to Nine, the new airport – which will be several hours from popular resort locations of Kuta and Seminyak – will provide relief at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Denpasar, which is struggling with the amount of daily flight arrivals. Tourists travelling on low-cost airlines will now be landing further away from holiday hot spots like Kuta and Seminyak.

Unable to build more runways, Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said the new airport location would open up tourism in the north that fails to receive much attention. According to reports, the new northern airport – which will open in 2022 – will receive around 70 per cent of flights from Australia, with Jetstar carrying close to one million travellers between Australia and Indonesia last year. Jetstar will be impacted by the new airport, which will accommodate low-budget carriers going to the north of Bali instead of the south. “Means convenience of the airport in the south, make it better … in the north is service limitation,” Mr Sumadi told 9 News in response to the new airport location.

A Jetstar spokesperson told the current Denpasar airport was popular with passengers. “Our services into Denpasar are very popular, with customers loving the convenience the airport provides to hotels, beaches and restaurants, but we are open to understanding more about the Indonesian Government’s second airport proposal,” the spokesperson said. Ross Taylor from the Perth-based Indonesia Institute said the new airport would have an impact on the hundreds of thousands of travellers who venture to Bali on holiday each year. “The Australian dollar spent in Bali is critically important to the Balinese economy, and the Governor is very aware of that, and the last thing he would want to do is upset the thousands and thousands of Australians who are flying themselves with a two-and-a-half hour drive to get to their hotel,” he said. [ 29, July 2019]