Editorial: A Great Little Party Town, and Judgmental Reporters

The writer of an uptight piece on the American ABC News website this week about raucous Legian nightlife and what foreign tourists get up to was misleading and regretful.

Titled Indonesia’s Troublesome Tourists, Margaret Conley appeared surprised that foreign men drink in Legian bars shirtless and barefoot, and imprudently quoted a tongue-in-cheek guide-leaflet published in Hong Kong as an authority on foreign tourists in Bali: “Immodest tourists – topless, bottomless, witless, brainless and hopeless. Show some respect, please.”

Ms. Conley appears to be of the illogical opinion that in a party town such as Kuta, tourists should dress properly.

“A Brit shamelessly dances shirtless and barefoot in a crowded bar with a strip of cloth tied around his head,” the article goes. And later: “A shirtless Australian down the bar tells crude jokes loud enough to hear over the Eagles songs Hotel California and Tequila Sunrise that blast in the background. Unfazed, local woman Nyoman stands behind the bar. ‘No problem for me because at home my husband also [wears] no shirt,’ she said.”

We were left wondering why such a reputable US news organization published work by a correspondent – a California native based in Jakarta, according to the ABC media center – who clearly has little grasp on the subject matter (instead of interviewing the authorities for comment or background, the article relies on grabs from the Bali Tourism Board website). And on a tropical tourist island, the reporter appeared naïve as to the goings-on and what, if any, clothing people wear.

Here are some of the comments on the ABC site posted by readers:

“ABCraziyism – who [wrote] the front page headlines?”

“What’s the point of this story? … You’re talking about intoxicated adults on vacation in a bar. What do you expect?”

“This article is stupid. It makes it seem like the whole country of Bali is one big party place.” (Country?)

“HELLO! It’s called a bar. Does it matter where it’s at?”

Kuta is a small part of the Bali tourist holiday, and many who come here avoid it because of its loud nature. Kuta is not synonymous with Bali; the grace and charm of other areas, like Ubud and along the east and north coasts, are what make up the island’s international image as a serene place of beauty and introspection. Ms. Conley’s article sought to portray Bali otherwise.

“Outside a tourist talks about exactly how drunk he was the night before, dissipating any air of magic on the Hindu island.” And: “Night after night, new tourists arrive – and add to lasting impressions foreigners before them may have left behind.”

The only trouble the party crowd appeared to be causing was in the mind of the writer. Kuta doesn’t need any more attacks.

To read the article, go to http://abcnews.go.com/International/story?id=5935216&page=1

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