EDITORIAL: Foreigners’ Folly
Many people who come to Bali for the first time feel an almost indescribable affinity with the place, a kind of unseen umbilical association, and they vow to one day live on the island, making a tropical dream – or fantasy – come true. Bali is an intoxicating lure that does not easily loosen its grip.
Setting up home in a strange land, on a tiny island, is fraught with frustrations and infuriation: Some things can really vex. For the determined émigré, such obstacles are a small price to pay for achieving what many wish for but never have the fortitude to enact; many others, unable to survive what can be a chaotic, at-times surreal existence, quickly surrender and run back home.
There are foreigners living in Bali for decades, some of whom have adopted Balinese names and have been assimilated into the community and wondrous, magical culture. There are those who have been here a short time, or have just arrived, perhaps having been relocated as part of their job, as employees in the international chain-hotel sector frequently are. And then there are the circa two million foreigners who holiday on our island each year, some, smitten, staying on longer than they had intended.
A large chunk of foreigners, whether long-term or fleetingly here, lead uneventful, calm lives in Bali, and that is just how they like it. But for what seems to be a growing group of expatriates here, living the high life is what they seek; they are drawn to our island by the party, anything-goes atmosphere that can prevail in certain areas. Some reinvent themselves, hoping to close the door on a dicey past by devising a new name and a new career and glossing over their troubles.
Such folk are attracted to Bali because of its perceived lack of law and order, the supposed ability to buy your way out of any strife – above all, to live big with no questioning peers in sight.
At the lower end, we daily see foreigners riding motorbikes without helmets, when not only common sense but the law says otherwise. We see groupings of expatriates who float about in the shiny invitation set and deem themselves the height of society in a community to which they are irredeemably alien. In a kind of pseudo class system, they attempt to outdo one another and, occasionally, engineer difficulties for rivals or those they abhor.
But at the pinnacle of contemptible expatriate hell-raising are foreigners who fully engage in activities that break severe laws – such as drug-taking – while plastering photographs of their playful antics on social-networking websites as if we are all having a laugh.
We are not.
Any foreign national who is serious about Bali knows to respect Indonesian law and the island’s customs and traditions, and they are grateful they are allowed to live in such a special place. For the others who flit around and thumb their nose at whatever they like, there is no place in Bali.Filed under: Headlines