MAy 22-28, 2009

Dear Sir

Too much is being written for English speakers about what’s wrong with the dog situation in Bali with little specific information for what those English readers can do to help. We can do a great deal even as visitors to this island. What the Balinese do in their culture is not my business. They have their reasoning and experience, but example and education are real ways to effect changes, and that I can do something about.

If there weren’t too many Bali dogs to be managed, with more dogs being imported all the time, crossbreeding to produce more unwanted dogs, those responsible who are realising they need to do something, are acting in ways we might not like.

The pressure they get from tourists to get the dogs off the streets so they can enjoy their vacations without fear is a reasonable concern. With rabies, the problem cannot be ignored any longer. It’s one thing to have experience that killing isn’t the solution for rabies and another for those without experience to believe it when so many elements suggest that culling and controlling the dog population needs to be done.

I feel like I could do serious harm to someone I caught poisoning my dogs. The idea that that is being done is deeply painful to me, so I do as much as I can in the role I have here to openly manage my own dogs responsibly.

Where the neighbourhood dogs are concerned, I have brought in both dog-rescue organizations to educate the owners. The people are grateful because they haven’t known what to do when a dog is expiring in misery on the street with no meat left on its bones or hair left on its hide, without even enough life left to scratch the fleas and mange mites that have taken over their body. If a dog needs to be put to sleep to end its suffering, the people are pleased to have it done painlessly and they willingly bury them.

I’ve called for dog rescue for 14 dogs just in my neighbourhood to be put to sleep painlessly. The dogs likely to live were treated free. Rabies was explained and arrangements were made for BAWA (Bali Animal Welfare Association) to handle that. The last thing the people need is to be castigated for not knowing what to do as dog owners. Sometimes they’ve cried, but out of sadness and gratitude. They do care about the welfare of their animals and are eager to know what they can actually do to help them. Not one person so far has objected.

A solution any tourist or expat could do is this:

1. When you see a dog that needs care, identify the owner of the dog. Although the dogs run free, they all, except rare strays, belong to a compound. The place the dog returns to sleep. You don’t need to talk to the owners; just ask around until you can determine where it belongs. The neighbours all know where the dogs live. If that isn’t possible, pinpoint where BAWA or INAW (Indonesian Animal Welfare) can find the dog on the street. It’s a great deal more helpful if you get the exact location settled for them so their time isn’t wasted searching for it themselves.

2. Call BAWA at 981490 for the Ubud area and east Bali, or INAW at 087-860 242 072 for Denpasar and areas to the west, as far as Negara. Give them all the information you can. They will then discuss the options with the dog owners, educating them about a merciful death, and acting only with their permission.

3. If you want to do more, enlist the help of a Balinese person to interact between BAWA or INAW and the neighbourhood. Here, we called a meeting of the people who live on our street and a group of BAWA staff came to talk to them. They learned about rabies, that neutering is done free of charge, that there were free treatments for mange and worms, etc., that if the dog is beyond treatment, it would be put to death without pain. It was the local gossip for days with the word being spread not just on our street but throughout the banjar and among co-workers.

4) Contributions are also needed, so if you can do nothing else, call those numbers and offer any amount of money you can afford. They will gladly come get it.


Wanda Lee

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Re Once in a Bali Lifetime: The Shirt off Our Backs

At Hardy’s and The Guardian pharmacy in Sanur, as we’ve found out the hard way, cheating and short-changing tourists and expats is pretty standard. At Hardy’s the manager seemed unconcerned about it, when it was raised.

It’s a sad fact that for many Balinese, dishonesty and cheating the bule is an acceptable part of daily life and many leave here with a dark feeling of being repeatedly scammed. It’s far more widespread than anywhere else in Asia.

I guess it starts at the top and filters down and when you have so few honest role models it’s hard to stop it.

In Malaysia now it is illegal to sell an item without a price displayed. It doesn’t always work but it’s a start.


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Some places charge bule prices; don’t go there. I found that the apotek in Carrefor, Sunset road, to be quite cheap, the one in Galleria almost double.

Many businesses are not owned or operated by Balinese. You’ll find most of the shops in and around Kuta are owned by Javanese. I’ve found these are the best at trying to rip you off.

My wife is Balinese, and refuses to pay more because her husband is a bule. If the price is too high, we deal with someone else.

None of my in-laws or my employees are well off, yet I’ve never been asked for money in any form or fashion.

I find most Balinese to be extremely honest, and most from Java to be extremely dishonest.

I married with a good income, but absolutely no savings, and my wife says marriage isn’t about money.

Sack your staff, and find better elsewhere. If you let this go on, it will go on for a long time, mate.


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In reply:

Dave, to be honest my experience is quite the opposite. I’ve spent a lot of time in rural and urban Java and never once have I felt scammed or overcharged. That’s not the case here.

Many Balinese are extremely honest but it’s also true that one needs to check your change more carefully in Bali than in Java. And it’s the Balinese who often do it although they love to blame the Javanese for everything (the Javanese in turn love to very unfairly stereotype the Balinese, who they regard as crafty, uneducated and parochial).

I’ve had staff try to scam me several times and ask for money and I was repeatedly warned when I first came here years back that it would be the case.

Within a week both our driver and our pembantu (maid) had hit up the new arrivals for several million each for “ceremonies” and “doctors.” We had household items and electronics disappear. We were seen as an easy touch but we learned rather quickly.

My current staff, on the other hand, some Balinese and some Javanese, are all thoroughly decent and honest people.

Now I have a second sense as to who is going to try and scam me or rip me off. I’ve been here long enough to know instinctively and I react accordingly.


Filed under: Letters

2 Responses to “MAy 22-28, 2009”

  1. Peter Says:

    The Indonesians and Balinese are simply the kindest and most generous souls you will ever find on this earth! Of course there is some short changing going as happens absolutely everywhere on earth.

    Here in North America and Europe governments and banks have perfected perfectly “legal” ways to overcharge and extort citizens and no one says much because they are afraid of being ridiculed or tossed in jail.

    In case you have been asleep under a rock lately, the thieves on Wall Street, good ol USA and their doddering-senile meat puppets in Congress have conveniently relieved millions of people of their hard earned savings; these “banksters” are the scum of the earth….they are able to hide behind their stolen, looted property gates and the TV corporations are smooth at explaining why the ordinary people should just “sit back and take it because thats the way life is”. These people are the rotten fruit hanging off a rotten civilization.

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