Here’s a look inside our mailbag:
[Bali to Have a Local Rail System by 2014?] our report saying the government promises Bali a island-wide rail system by 2014, brought a number of letters, some skeptical:
· Menno Reijers living in Karangasem, Bali wrote:
“A rail system on Bali? May be a good way to reduce traffic and pollution, but on the other hand it will cost also a lot of private drivers their small business. Unemployment on Bali is high as it is already. May be the drivers can work then for the railway company?”
· Paul Speirs finds the 2014 promise hard to believe:
“I think that 2024 would be a better timescale when the train line could be finished, if it gets started at all. I work in the trains in England and the upgrade on the west coast mainline took 5 years (and the infrastructure is better in England). The amount of bridges, viaducts, stations needed, not to mention buying the land - makes this project a dream!”
[The Shifting Sands of Bali's Beaches] examining erosion of Bali’s beaches earned the following letter.
· Debe wrote to say:
“I live on an Island, I've seen the erosion, it happens of course from the taking of the sand, but it also happens when they start altering the shoreline to create walk ways, like they've been doing in the North, or filling in with sand, cement and rocks to erect hotels and homes ... something really needs to be done now, or they will ruin one of Bali's major natural resource. It is very apparent this is happening in the north since the new wall/walk way was added a couple of years ago...The beach is nearly gone. It really messed with our shoreline, which by the way, the sand has NEVER returned.”
[Recapturing Bali's Charm] sharing comments from I.B. Lolec Surakusuma of Pacific World Travel on the need to recapture and preserve Bali’s cultural identity earned two letters:
· Jean Cave affectionately wrote:
“Look at the smile on this man's face. That is the best thing about Bali. I agree with every word he says. Please please, please restore Bali's special charm and warmth.”
· Wendy wrote:
“Yay for Gus Lolec on his philosophy and comments on regaining and maintaining the taksu of Bali! I am so happy to read that there is a movement to maintain the traditions of the island and her people. If Bali becomes like the rest of the world, there won't be a reason to come there. You have a mystique and beauty to your traditional way of life - please, don't lose it.”
Meanwhile a long-term Bali resident, Ferry Forrest, wrote to share his ideas on what could be done to reduce Bali’s traffic congestion:
“Let me pass along an idea that "could" help alleviate some of our traffic problems. YES, there are more cars and motorbikes BUT there are significantly more trucks moving limestone mountains! The trucks blast through all in their way and take the outside lanes and then cut in as they know most will stop due to their size. I have never seen a truck being stopped by the police for reckless driving. When you get a line of 6-8 trucks jockeying for position the stress on 'other' drivers is overpowering and traffic congestion is rampant.”
“Idea: These construction trucks could only be on the road from 7:00PM-7:00AM. Limestone can be loaded and dumped during darkness with minimum lights. Should a truck have to run during the day they would be required to buy a permit.”
“If you don't have enough space, time and money to widen roads or build alternate routes, you have to focus on VOLUME. Much like Singapore did when they had too many cars going through the downtown area.”
[Sanur, Not for the Begging] relating how the Sanur Beach community is earning praise for keeping its streets free of touts and beggars managed to prompt people to write in.
· David Dundas of Australia wrote off-topic and tongue-in-cheek:
“Sanur village head is mistaken in saying that there are no beggars in Sanur.”
“There are many beggars lining along Jalan Cemara, they are the residents who are begging something be done about the excessive noise of live music coming from the bars at Double Dutch, The Caesar and Flapjacks. This starts around 8:00 p.m, and local residents can't watch television or concentrate on reading a book because of the noise, and some even have to wear earplugs in bed."
"The managers and performers seem to think that what they lack in quality they can make up for in volume, and I know for a fact that some potential customers are driven away by the din.”
“I have been coming to Sanur for five years and have seen it become more and more like Kuta. Sanur has been the preferred location for those tourists, particularly families and older people who are seeking more peaceful and civilized surroundings, rather than be among the drunks and rowdies who head for Kuta."
I am fortune that I have a choice, and am unlikely to return, but the local permanent residents have to put up with this all year and every year. It is time now that action is taken to limit the noise, before Sanur gets the same reputation as Kuta, when it will be too late.
· Lyn Ellard of Bali added:
“Well done to the people of Sanur. This is our second home and we stay in Sanur twice a year. It is a beautiful side of the Island and the people have become our friends. Keep up the good work.”
[Paved Paradise & Put up a Parking Lot] describing dire predictions of traffic gridlock within 5 years in Bali.
· Greg Heighes, a long time resident of Bali wrote:
“I am a little tired of the hearing the government officials blaming other government departments, and the difficulty of acquiring land for new road as the main cause of the problems.”
“When we see the total neglect of the current roads, poorly paved, poorly laid out intersections, traffic lights that point to nowhere!”
“There are many area's where they can improve the ability of the existing roads to better carry traffic, improve flows, and reduce congestion.”
“For example, making sure there are no potholes in intersections that reduce traffic flow by 50% or more. Installing smart traffic lights that can respond to changes in demand at different times of the day. Improving signage, visibility and turning areas at the existing intersections.”
“Why don't they even take care of these measures that do not need the purchase of land!”
“It is a big job, and a hard one, and glad it is not mine.”
“I wish that they would prove their commitment to improving the lives and welfare of Bali's residents and tourists alike, by doing the hard and never ending job of Fixing and properly maintaining the roads you have.”
[Holding the Apron Strings in Lombok] confirming the very late opening of Lombok's new international airport stimulated some pointed comments:
· Barry Acott said:
“'International airport' for Lombok, is it namesake only or are there plans to have direct flights from other international destinations?”
“It seems a bit of overkill when there is an international airport so close in Bali.”
· Shorty wrote to express disbelief:
“Babes in the woods. How many international airlines have agreed to use the airport?”
“It's so indicative of the out of date Indonesian marketing mentality - build it and they'll come, not do we/they/want/need it.
“O.K, Bali is the entreport, but it's a pissant compared to Singapore, Thailand, wherever - 260k a month. even if Lombok snares 25% the airlines (coming to Bali) it will go broke.”
[Ecstatic, He's Not] reporting on the 12-year sentence handed down to an anti-narcotics policeman in Bali for dealing in drugs, raised the ire and indignation of some readers”
· Jeff Ball expressed dismay:
“Is Indonesian justice an oxymoron? A Philippine woman gets life imprisonment for importing drugs. An Indonesian Police officer entrusted by the people to enforce the drug laws gets 12 years for dealing in drugs. Am I missing something?”
· Mal Phillips of Australia was no less pleased:
“I find it very difficult to understand how a Police Officer who is charged with the responsibility of administering the laws relating to drugs in Bali only gets 12 years jail after being found guilty of that offence while others including Schapelle Corby gets 20 years and others the death sentence. While I am not sympathetic to drug dealers or couriers, I just don't understand. Why is it so?”
Our editorial on the poor management and promotion of the Bali Arts Festival [A Less than Festive Festival] evoked spirited responses:
· Chris Clifford of Australia:
“In 2007 I had the privilege of attending the opening parade of the Bali Arts Festival and also the competition between the young people of two villages, each proudly representing their regency in music, dance and drama at a stadium in Denpasar. We attended the parade with the family of a child we sponsor and lined the road with many other Balinese to see the festivities. The President of Indonesia was in attendance and police and army lined the road. There were even tanks. While we were amazed at the way the crowd pushed on to the road (at times the procession had to proceed single file) it did show that the Indonesian people do not find their army terrifying, but rather of the people.”
“When we attended the stadium we were among the very few non Indonesians there. We went to support the village of Batuan, where our friend and his family live. It seemed that the entire village must have turned out for the night. Sitting with these people the pride was very evident. It would be a shame if the Arts Festival became a tourist attraction and the prices charged meant that the ordinary Balinese could not go and enjoy it. The show was very well attended that night, as I believe it was most nights, by ordinary Balinese people, there to enjoy their culture and show great pride in the accomplishments displayed.”
“I was gob smacked by the incredible talent and the amount of effort that went in to the performance. We saw young people, under 15, competing to a standard that would leave many professionals jealous. I would urge everyone who gets a chance to attend something during the Festival but I would hate to see tickets being sold 'online at international prices' as this would end up excluding the Balinese people that are the ones who put this show together. They are also what makes it great.”
· Sarita Newson of Bali wrote:
“Bravo! It has always been very hard to access a program to the annual Bali Arts festival, and if one is lucky enough to find a program it consists of such scanty information that it means little to all but the experts on Balinese culture, dance and music! The immense problems with parking and access to the festival venue alone are enough to provide an absolute nightmare for even local residents who wish to attend the festival, let alone foreigners who are not used to walking miles in packed traffic as if to attend some kind of 60's Woodstock festival! Serious attention needs to be given to making the 34th festival a World Class Event!”
· Marcel added:
“Well, the answer is simple: Have you ever tried to get to one of the venues of the Festival?? Is simply impossible, either because traffic is jammed beyond believe or the "organizers changed the venue at the last minute without providing information. It's one of the worst organized events I've ever experienced and will for sure never send any of my guests to it. It also lacks interesting content.”
[Survey: Bali Clean and Green] reporting Bali’s high placement in nationwide surveys of environmental quality brought expressions of disbelief:
· Brian wrote:
“Heaven help the rest of Indonesia if Bali is the cleanest & greenest province.”
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