A search through the mailbox of Balidiscovery.com yielded comments from readers on a wide range of subjects.
Promises from Bali new chief of police, General Hadiatmoko, to clean up bribe-seeking policemen seeking money from foreign motorcyclists [The Games Up] prompted the following letter:
• Moses Huszar wrote:
"As a long-time resident of Bali I feel relief that this issue is finally on the table. The above article mentions only part of the problem, however. The personnel of the police post at Dreamland Beach have already given up these activities because they are no longer profitable. People decided they had enough, organized themselves and refused to pay the 'bill'. Instead they would ask for the officer's name and make a formal complaint at the police station. With bribe money harder to come by and complaints piling up, the practice simply stopped. But only on the Badung peninsula, where surfers form a tight-knit community and word gets around fast. Everyone living in South Bali is well aware that the intersection of Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai and Jalan Diponegoro on the way from Kuta to Sanur is the place where policemen most commonly trap and blackmail tourists on motorcycles. This summer alone I've had 2 pairs of visiting friends from Europe complain about being stopped by the men in uniform at that very police station. I had warned them about Sanur, but to no avail. They were fined 200,000 and 120,000 IDR. Let's hope for the sake of all honest and well-meaning Balinese citizens out there that this pattern of behavior is addressed by Mr. Hadiatmoko, rather than being the 'omong kosong' (hollow words) of a newly appointed official. "
"In the meantime, there's unfortunately only one solution for those visiting guests traveling by motorbike: avoid Sanur."
The balidiscovery.com editorial [The Tip of Many Icebergs in Bali] outlining the underlying problem of poor regulatory enforcement, caused Lorraine of Bali Harmony Weddings to write:
"The amount of people coming onto the island and setting up shop as wedding and event organizers...all without benefit of experience, CV or KITAS is quite appalling. Also the operators that fly in, do the job and fly out. There is one that does approx 150 weddings in Bali a year...all without an office, staff etc.. It's just so wrong."
Our article on how Bali tourism and the resulting visa fees are booming [Bali Immigration Visa Fees H1 2010 US$23 Million] caused some readers to ask where the money was going.
• Lorraine from Australia wrote:
"If the government is receiving this much money in visa fees, then why, why, why can authorities not put extra workers on to process the arrivals. We waited 2.1/2 hours to get through immigration in June and it is not good enough. People are getting sick of this and will find other places to spend their holidays if it is not fixed soon."
• Donna added:
"It's frustrating to read about the immigration department crowing about the fees they are raking in; meanwhile, these increased tourists they so desire are having to wait hours to be processed by the scant number of officers on duty. I just arrived in Thailand, from Bali, and even though there were hundreds of people coming from several flights, I passed through immigration, including being photographed, in about ten minutes, and there were at least 20 officers on duty. "
Still on the subject of standing in line at immigration at Bali's airport [Is there a Waiting Line for Paradise?] . . .
• Lorri from Australia said:
"In the not too distant future, once the word spreads far and wide about the terrible wait of about 2 hours to get through immigration, I honestly believe that people will find other destinations for their holidays. This being the case, then what is the point of building more and more hotels? Until the problem can be fixed at the airport, then all future building should be halted."
• Susie Spear writing from New Zealand sounded a similar note:
"They have counters, but when I came through (26.7.2010) they were closed!!!! Except for one! 5 or 6 flights full of tired people were crowed into very HOT shoulder to shoulder contact for 3 hours! A few suffering from heat exhaustion fainted on the way. Not good enough for an international airport. The counters were there - but they were not manned!"
• Parwati, one of our many Balinese readers, said:
"om swastiastu . . .this problem was there ever since the Government granting more nations to the VOA (visa on arrival) and no one seems to bother (about) the side effect before this service was extended. A good Government is supposed to look at, again, the capability of its officers and/or facilities to back up this issue. The Government should prepare itself before hand. This is not a new problem. I tell you this is a huge matter that gives negative impact on Bali Tourism and therefore, Government (central or local) should take action in no time. Don't sacrifice Bali Tourism with this type of unprofessional long-line service at the airport when the tourists just landed from long journey. Put yourself into their shoes so the government will understand that this is a serious matter which needs to be addressed immediately. We do not need to discuss on meetings but very much need ACTION - DO IT immediately!!!! "
• Michael Parker wrote:
"Yes, having suffered for a couple of hours after a flight with hundreds of others in barely moving lines. And then the immigration officials did not even look to see if the person in front of them was the same as the passport."
"It is the single factor that made me decide to give Bali a miss. My holidays are short and a few hours like that puts a bad taint on the holiday, just not worth it when there are so many alternatives that know how to treat tourists and are 10 times more efficient."
Our reprinting of an editorial from The Jakarta Post by distinguished Indonesian elder statesman Anak Agung Gde Agung [Bali: Good to the Last Drop] brought a number of letters to our mailbox.
• Dr. Dieter Reichel from Switzerland said:
"Fully agree with the sad vision of Dr. Anak Agung Gde Agung. I know Bali since the early 70ties and observed the changes and slide to mass tourism oblivious to the old culture and silent beauty of the land. As everywhere, mass tourism destroys not only the past but also the future."
Tom Clark wrote:
"Government departments are happy with the millions of tourists coming to Bali, but do they actually realize just as many will never come back because of the disgusting airport facilities...or lack thereof…not to mention the complete destruction of Bali's coastline...the never ending construction of buildings that really belong to the Gold Coast or the Sunshine Coast...the ever increasing rip offs of many restaurants, sellers, shops. People have had enough of this blatant ripping off of the 'Bule' and are going elsewhere. Bali is shooting itself in the foot...wake up before it's too late."
An article from The Jakarta Globe by Todd Elliot, a Jakarta-based analyst with the Concord Consulting Group, [Ignoring All the Warning Signs] brought letters to out mailbox.
• Judy wrote one of those letters, saying:
"I agree with this article. Ii have been coming to Bali for the last 25years, every year, and have noticed all the changes. It's a shame that these new hotels are going up and losing the traditional Bali styles. Bali is becoming very Americanized and losing its culture which most of us Aussies love."
• Bruce from Australia had this to say:
"An excellent article, I do not think Bali has too long to turn around. It is too bad that those people that should be safeguarding the island's unique charm and culture along with its natural resources, do not seem to be too motivated. I hope and pray that common sense will prevail so that growth and use of natural resources can go hand in hand."
Governor Pastika's refusal of a new limousine from the Bali House of Representatives detailed in [Oh Lord Won't You Buy Me a Mercedes Benz] earned applause from several quarters.
• Agung Parwati from Bali wrote:
"This time, I am proud to hear this news and the first time I (ever) heard of a Governor and the Vice Governor of Bali refusing a luxury car, wanting to reallocate the budget for other more important needs for the people of Bali. I hope this attitude will be able to end (gradually) the corruption activities in Bali, if not in Indonesia. Thank you Mr. Governor, you have chosen a wise decision for your people in Bali and you have shown very good example to be followed by others . . .'santih.'"
Our coverage of the continuing epidemic of rabies in Bali [Dog Day Afternoons and Nights in Bali] brought out views on both sides of the continuing controversy on how to deal with the disease in Bali.
• H Van Dorssen wrote:
"In regards to culling of dogs, it is about time someone came to my gang and not only eliminate stray dogs but every dog in the gang (alley). Sick of all this barking day and night!"
• Suazana has a view more sympathetic to Bali's stray dog population.
"My suggestion is stop euthanizing poor and innocent stray dogs...they need our love, care and compassion! Give them a place to live, if possible, build animal shelters for these poor innocent dogs."
Our report on efforts to track down commercial villas not paying their share of tax revenues [Making Sure Bali's Villas Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes] raised questions on how illegal villas are counted.
• Peter Dundas wondered:
"Only 36 illegal villas in the Badung Regency? Clearly, a very important person is highly misinformed. The BVA's figures have to be closer to the truth. The real figure is not difficult to calculate. Let's hope the people of Bali benefit from the license fees and taxes and not some high ranking officials."
Our information on tsunami preparedness in south Bali [Keeping Ahead of the Wave] had a reader from north Kuta calling for disaster protection on those shores:
• Patrick said:
"Whilst I think the Tsunami early warning system is a great thing, it needs to be expanded. I live in north Kuta, which is maybe 3 km away from the Double 6 alarm, but I've never heard it. What this means is the people located on the main tourist areas would be alerted, and the locals wouldn't. Surely there must be a way to add extensions to the main sirens?"
A report on the patriotism and commitment of a group of disable scuba divers [Red and White Beneath the Blue] who unfurled the Indonesian national flag on the ocean's floors earned an appreciative response.
• Lynette Ellard wrote:
"What an achievement for you all at Senang Hati Foundation, we have been visiting these people twice a year for about 4 years and each visit we are amazed at the wonderful things that they do. They are the most inspiring people that I have ever met. Well done, everyone. It is worth a visit to their centre by anyone coming to Bali."
Our editorial supporting Governor Pastika's call to put hotel and restaurant tax reporting and payments on line [Plugging the Leaks, Keeping Bali Financially Afloat] brought an enthusiastic vote of support.
• Graham James in Bali wrote:
"Spot on. And maybe the tax revenue will allow the governor to get rid of billboards and other out-size signage."
The High Cost of a Drink in Bali
Finally, Margaret van Veen-schreur had something to say about the problem of high prices for wine and spirits in Bali"
"For 10 years I'm going to Bali 4 months a year. I like to drink my wine and whisky - a few glasses every day, especially two glasses of wine with my diner in one of the restaurants."
"Even the local Hatten white and rosé, are getting very expensive, and for the whisky - I can only afford the local whisky which also is already doubled in price in a few years."
"A bottle of red label Johnny Walker is here in Belgium 12 Euro, but in Bali 50 euro! A bottle of reasonable wine we pay 2.5 Euro (in Belgium), for Hatten we pay almost 9 euro for 1 bottle."
"So I hope this will change, otherwise it becomes to expensive for us, then we better go to South Africa where you pay 1.5 Euro for a bottle of wine and they have cheap golf courses. But we like Bali and the Balinese people more!"
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