An Australian model and social media influencer, Mikaela Testa, has apologized on TikTok after a clip in which she visited an exotic animal meat market in Bali was publicly criticized.
In a deleted video, Testa talked about when a taxi driver took her and her manager, at their request, to a meat market in Bali. The driver took them to a “top secret” market where they sell monkey meat, crocodile meat, and, as Testa found out later, dog meat.
Testa said she took home an assortment of items before leaving the market, admitting that the whole experience was traumatizing. She also said that she did not film much at the market as she felt people there were suspicious of her.
She and her manager then tried the meats (but not the monkey meat and dog meat), including those from rats and crocodiles, noting their “distinct smell.”
The comments condemning her were intense enough that Testa reportedly deleted the video some 20 minutes after uploading it.
Testa uploaded an apology video soon after, which was followed by another video in response to media coverage of the deleted controversial video.
In the apology video yesterday, Testa said that as a daily vlogger, she likes to see other cultures and “learn about things.”
“I understand that my audience may be very sensitive and not used to seeing this. I understand that when I travel I can become very insensitive to that. Because I’m so used to seeing different things all the time. I definitely was not thinking straight. I definitely should not have posted the video at all. And I’m very sorry for that,” she began the video.
“Basically what happened was, we were in the taxi, and we were on our way home. We were driving past a lot of local areas and there’s lots of markets so we kind of wanted to stop and wanted to have a look. We asked the taxi driver to take us to the best one. The taxi driver started talking about rats and we were listening and I was naturally very intrigued.”
Testa said that she was aware that there was going to be monkey meat before entering the market.
“That’s what Indonesians eat. It’s pretty common,” she said.
“Although I don’t agree with that. I would never want to disrespect anybody’s culture.”
Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country so it is actually not common for the people here to eat monkey meat, which is forbidden for consumption by the religion. While Bali itself is not a Muslim-majority island, eating monkey meat is generally frowned upon – in fact, monkeys are actually deemed sacred animals by Balinese Hindus as you can see by how they are protected at the Ubud Monkey Forest and other areas, such as in Uluwatu.
There is one region in the northern part of Sulawesi where people regularly eat monkeys, but it definitely represents a tiny minority of the whole of Indonesia.
Nonetheless, Testa said that she did not intend to do anything wrong, adding that she had no idea that the market had dog meat and that she would not have entered if she knew that. She claims their taxi driver only told them about the dog meat section of the market once they were inside.
“From that point, I should have never posted the video. And I apologize so deeply for that,” she said.
That said, the island does have a complicated relationship with dogs. In the grand scheme of things, Testa actually managed to point out a dark side of Bali – dog meat trade – that animal rights defenders have long been fighting against.
It should be noted that Testa’s Bali itinerary covered more than just a visit to the meat market, though.
In another video, Testa commented on the water quality in Bali, saying that she “cannot drink water in Bali. Ten chances out of 10 you will get a flesh-eating parasite, poisoned, Bali belly, and some people actually die from Bali belly.”
“I duct-tape my mouth every time I go for a shower,” she said. “Just in case!”
In the same video, she said that she just found out that rice was grown and harvested from the ground, AKA rice fields. She also said that she and her manager attempted to visit Kerobokan Prison so they could meet Matthew Norman, a member of the notorious Bali Nine. However, she said the prison officers did not allow visitors due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Instead, she went to a McDonald’s to buy 60 Happy Meals, which she donated to an orphanage.
“Indonesia is one of the most poor countries in the world. Only wealthy kids can eat McDonald’s so I really wanted to make this special for them,” she said, adding that the restaurant staff were shocked by the order.
The 21-year-old said that, by the time she is 26, she will be “adopting many children from Indonesia.”
Coconuts has reached out to Testa via her Instagram profile to hear her side of the story. In the meantime, while she may have done some good in Bali, perhaps this is a reminder that influencers may not be the most informed of people and that we shouldn’t believe everything they say. And please stay away from exotic meats.