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.
I am wondering why you are publishing a letter of some one who is on a personal vendetta. The Ubud expat ( Madhatterofbali ) is a person who has been thrown off of every forum there is about Bali, including the Balipodforum.com. He has threatened the former owner and every other person he had a disagreement with to have them deported. He is doing the same with the person he had a disagreement with on the Balipodforum and is the so called ugly expat. So, once again, why are you publishing a letter of someone who has a bad reputation all around the world. Roy proclaims it’s because you are dear friends. So, what’s the truth? Read the links he has send, and make up your own mind. In my view, this Ubud expat is what he proclaims new expats are, an ugly expat who is an alarming creature.
“Forum reader” you should address the message if you disagree with it, not the author.
Particularly amusing though is your belief that this foreign expatriate has the power to have someone deported. I was unaware that foreigners can now serve as immigration officers in Indonesia. The simple fact is that they can’t, so why do you seem so nervous?
I thought the Portuguese, Dutch and Japanese were enough and in this century we don’t need any more colonist attitudes in Bali or Indonesia as a whole for that matter. Ask any Indonesian or Balinese and you will likely find that they are in complete agreement with the Ubud Expat.
In regards to Fred Johnson’s comment.
Get your facts right, there is a big difference between magic mushrooms and wild mushrooms which is what the MMA fighter, Jarrod Wyatt claimed to have taken (although there is no forensic evidence to suggest it was actually ingested by the Wyatt).
However there was evidence to indicate that he had been taking steroids which is probably most likely the reason for the violence coupled with an individual with obvious psychological issues to begin with.
I have myself taken magic mushrooms many many times and find it to be one the least dangerous drug that I have tried (alcohol, cocaine, meth, cannabis, ecstasy, amphetamines). It has no lasting side effects to your central nervous system and any remaining traces will have left the body after a day or two.
Just because one individual has had an apparently “bad trip” on shrooms in the US (which is a messed up place anyway), doesn’t mean that it should ruin other peoples experiences with mushrooms in other parts of the world.
Here in Australia the number of Alcohol related deaths in Australia is on average 3000 people a year. Compare that to just one death reported apparently caused by mushrooms…
Some people just don’t understand Alcohol is the most dangerous drug out there.
Think before you talk.
IT STILL SEEMS THAT THE POSTMAN FIRST SHALL READ ALL THE LETTERS BEFORE THEY DELIVER. NOW AFTER 3 WEEKS CAME SOME OF THE LETTERS TO MY FRIENDS AT POST CODE NO. 80119 – 80361. BUT AFTER 4 WEEKS ARE THERE STILL WAYTING LETTERS AND PICTURES TO POST CODE 80117. NOW I CAME TO BALI EVERY YEAR AT MORE THAN 30 YEARS, AND SOME TIME LETTERS NEVER EVER COME TO BALI. THEY SHOULD CLEANE UP BETWEEN THE WORKERS. AND PERHABS FIRST OF ALL THE POSTMAN SHOULD BE ABLE TO READ, OR HAVE TIME TO DO HIS WORK. THIS IS VERY VERY BAD.
Where did the current “Balinese” come from? Weren’t they from Java originally, pushed westwards by the Moslems? What happened to the “original” Balinese who were already here and didn’t want to be part of the “Hindu invasion”? Isn’t that “colonialism”?
On the surface, Mr Roy’s concerns are quite understandable, even laudable, IF they were really true. His on-going personal vendettas are less so (lately on Lonely Planet’s ThornTree site).
The “response” of “Nyoman Eri” (Mr Roy’s wife), is patently ridiculous and overly aggressive for a “real” Balinese. I doubt that she wrote it in the first place (probably Mr Roy).
If the truth be told, Mr Roy IS the “ugly American” (“expat”) he’s railing against.
Sorry – I meant pushed eastwards. My mistake.