Melting into Madness

It took a man and his wife two and a half hours to get through airport immigration and customs. He described it to this newspaper as “the most arrogant and understaffed service of any airport I had the misfortune to be processed through.” He said it was the worst in the world, and “My wife and I will never return to Bali while there is the slightest chance that we’ll be treated the way we were.” He added that the experience had “left the wrong impression about Bali.”

This, increasingly, is not a rare sentiment.

Elsewhere, tourists – the lifeblood of our economy – are being chased around the streets in fear of their lives, by the vicious street dogs that the island is riddled with. Many have written to us with their stories of holidays ruined and vow never to come to Bali again because of the hazardous dog problem. And that’s not all: close to 100 people are now known to have died in the rabies outbreak in Bali, now two years long, and this week more foreign media warned of the crisis here and included in their reports government warnings for people to stay away.

Meanwhile, our beaches are covered in rubbish, despite ephemeral attacks on them by bulldozers and the civic-minded; our public transportation is non-existent; and our traffic is a voluminous mess that is set to be cast into total bedlam with the impending construction of an overpass in the Tuan-Kuta area – though even that plan has itself been plunged into chaos by differing officials’ desires. 

This is the serene image of paradise that the authorities attempt to promote? Just what are people coming here for? It is a battle to get into the island; a fight to stay alive; and a struggle to get around. Indeed, from what we are hearing, many people can’t wait to leave.

Glossy travel magazines can award Bali the “best island” in the world all they want – purportedly voted as such by the publications’ own readers. The unfortunate reality points to anything but. 

It is a collective and shocking indictment on the management of Bali and that of the tourism industry. If this is where we are now, how will Bali look in five or 10 years’ time?

These issues do not stem from a lack of funding. The visa-on-arrival facility, for instance, raises tens of millions of US dollars annually for the central government. Monthly salaries of immigration officials are less than $200 – yet when the immigration arrivals hall fills up with hundreds of exhausted people many of the visa desks are empty.

A major Hollywood film has done the promotional work of Bali that the authorities here have consistently been unable to perform; and as Eat Pray Love opens worldwide, the spotlight on Bali will be drastically dimmed by the fierce outbreak of rabies. No one here seems concerned: Great packs of stray dogs still roam the island unfettered.

Perhaps when foreign tourists begin staying away in droves the authorities will finally begin to act. But by then it may be far too late.

Filed under: Editorial

2 Responses to “Melting into Madness”

  1. SVEND AAGE LAURSEN Says:

    YES IT SEEMS TO ME, THAT THE BALINESE PEOPLE DO NOT CARE SO MUCH ANYMORE ABOUT TOURISME. THE ISLAND OF GODS ARE NOW CHANGING TO AN ISLAND WITH BEGGING, LIES, PROSTITUTION, AND ROBBERY. AT SEPTEMBER I HAD STOLEN 200 USD FROM ONE OF THE STAFF AT THE HOTEL WHERE I WAS STAYING. I EVEN KNOW WHO IT WAS, I WOULD NOT CALL THE POLICE BECOURSE I WAS TOLD SHE WAS SINGLE WITH 2 CHILDREN, I WOULD NOT DESTROY MY WACATION TOGETHER WITH MY FRIENDS. BUT AFTER COMMING HOME I SEND A MESSAGE TO THE HOTEL, NO ANSWER. IT SEEMS THAT THEY DO NOT CARE ABOUT WHAT IS HAPPENING TO THERE VISITORS.EVEN THEY WAS TOLD THE NAME OF THE PERSON.
    I HOPE THE OLD BALI WOULD GET BACK TO THE ISLAND OF GODS.

  2. Leenie Says:

    IT’S ABOUT TIME BALI DID SOMETHING ABOUT THERE CUSTOMER SERVICE AT THE AIRPORT QUICK SMART,if these ppl (people) don’t like there jobs they shouldn’t be there, very simple.

    IT IS NOT LIKE THIS IN JKT OR ANYWHERE OTHER AIRPORT IN INDONESIA, CUSTOM OFFICER ARE POLITE AND HAPPY TO SEE YOU AS A FOREIGNER.
    WHY DO THEY NOT UNDERSTAND THIS IN BALI? WITH OUT TOURIST THEY HAVE NO JOBS…GRRRRRRRRRRR

    The Dog situation is getting worse and i don’t understand why the Banjar does not do more to eradicate these wild homeless dogs and if the dogs are not homeless then ppl owning then should be held responsible.FINE THEM

    The Traffic is now the worst i hve ever seen it in 12yrs, does this look good for the tourist, most definitely NOT, it can take over an hr to get to the airport from Sanur (if your lucky) this is approx 15klm…
    They need to start to build the bridge ASAP from Turtle Island to Nusa Benoa quickly to take some traffic away from the By-Pass. NOT JUST TALK ABOUT IT.

    I HOPE SOMEONE IS LISTEN AND PASSING THIS INFO ON to the appropriate departments.

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