June 04-10, 2010
The Ugly Expat is an Alarming Creature
In the past few years, years in which Bali has experienced a huge influx of new expats into Bali, I have noticed an alarming ambivalence, as well as an abject disregard for Balinese culture and customs.
This observation is not uniquely mine. In discussions with many expats who can call Bali home for a period of ten or more uninterrupted years, I find much of the same observations noted by them.
These observations are easily noted in several ways. One of course is simply by discussion. Another and far more public manifestation of this change in attitude by the “newly arrived” can be found on the various internet forums and blogs dealing with the topic of expat life on Bali.
One such forum is called Balipod.com, which is the newly revised Bali Expat Forum originally started by a Dutch expatriate more than eight years ago, in 2002. A review of those posts made during the first few years of that forum to those made today reveals an alarming lack of interest in preserving, understanding, knowing or respecting Balinese culture, and an ever increasing interest in “How do I get what I want? How do I satisfy my desires and the Balinese be damned?” The comment “I regard all Balinese ceremony as circus” is one of many demeaning that can be found there.
I’ve been calling this new and disturbing phenomenon the “neo-colonialism of Bali.”
Less and less can anyone read posts on that expat targeted forum which are designed to help the newly arrived or wannabe expat assimilate into their new surroundings and the existing culture, but rather those posts are concentrated on commercialism, and how to get what they want here. Almost completely void from Balipod are any posts presented to help the expat understand the local culture or customs. It seems that this simply doesn’t matter anymore. Moreover there can be found on that forum an alarming increase of statements clearly intended to ridicule, criticize, and admonish the Balinese way of life, their customs and their culture.
A relatively new blog (buildingonbali.blogspot.com) run by a newly arrived expat who is building near Candi Dasa reflects these same alarming views as well as complete ignorance of or interest in Balinese culture.
So, what’s more dangerous? The ever increasing expansion of concrete and brick across Bali, or the increasing neo-colonial attitudes of many of those expats that occupy these newly built spaces?
In my opinion, this change of attitude towards one that is clearly founded on a false pretext of arrogant entitlement threatens the balance of mutual understanding between the Balinese and their resident “tamu” (guests). Why is it that so many of these newly arrived expats seem to ignore the truth and the undeniable fact that no matter how long we call Bali home, we are still guests on their island? This new attitude also threatens the harmony of life that long term expats have diligently worked at all the years they have lived on Bali.
Resentment is clearly building among the Balinese that I can talk openly about this topic; yet to be fair, there is also an appreciation amongst those same Balinese for the influx of monies. That dilemma – the incoming money versus the threat to their own culture – is, however, clearly understood. When push comes to shove, I have no doubt in my mind where the chips will fall to resolve that dilemma.
Magic Mushroom Threat
Why is it still possible to buy “magic mushrooms” in many places in Bali?
There are such strong laws on soft drugs, but the really dangerous ones are allowed and sold openly in many places and bars. Last week in the US a man told police he consumed magic mushrooms before allegedly dismembering his partner. He ripped out the heart of his training partner while becoming convinced he was possessed by the devil. He had drunk a cup of tea spiked with hallucinogenic mushrooms.
Should we wait in Indonesia for something like this to happen?
Correspondence via thebalitimes.com:
On Robert McJannett returning to Australia after serving a drug sentence in Bali and calling for the repatriation of Schapelle Corby:
Jails are supposed to be nasty places. Release Corby, why? because she is depressed? Well I guess all the other inmates aren’t exactly over the moon about being locked up either.
Do we just open the gates and let them all out?
There is a very big difference between possessing 1.7 grams and 4.1 kg.
When travelling to Indonesia, you know what the law is and what the possible consequences are if you get caught.
And yes, I believe there is room for discussion about the living conditions at Kerobokan. But this is also a well-known situation, so it should be an extra incentive not to get involved in drug smuggling.
If you can’t do the time…
On last week’s editorial, Calling for a Cull:
I came to Bali for a holiday last year. The wild dogs in Ubud were terrible.
I will never return to Bali due to the dogs. They are dangerous, out of control and ruined my holiday.
Get rid of them or lose the tourists.
DannyFiled under: Letters