Balinese temple (photo LP 2010)
I have returned in the past few days from a holiday in Bali, Indonesia, with my sister. Unlike my trip in 2010 when I stayed more remotely in the north west at Pemuteran and the north east at Amed, this visit was to a five star resort in Legian.
What a difference! The streets of Legian were very busy, the locals almost outnumbered by the Australian tourists. I heard very few languages other than “Aussie” spoken and it reminded me that when I travelled with my French boyfriend to the northern part of Bali, I was told by the Europeans I met that they tended to avoid the tourist hubs of Kuta, Legian and Seminyak because of the loud, rude and crude Australians…yes a generalisation about the Aussies, but unfortunately, as I was to learn, a correct one.
A friendly local trying to sell us a toy (photo LP 2012)
It is difficult to write this post without appearing a “snob”. But having canvassed my ideas with friends, acquaintances, colleagues and clients, and fellow holiday makers in Legian and Seminyak, my opinions have resonated widely, and with agreement.
Western Australia, and in fact any of the areas in the country which have vast mining wealth, is enjoying “boom time”. Those who choose to work in the mining industry, whether as cleaners and cooks, or as engineers and construction workers are being paid enormous amounts of money. Many of them are Fly In, Fly Out (FIFO) workers who endure 12-14 hour days on rosters of 2 weeks “on”, 2 weeks “off". It is a tough but very lucrative life.
No room at the pool bar for the ladies (photo LP 2012)
So-called “cashed up bogans” or rough, ill-mannered, inappropriately dressed men, and women, have infiltrated Bali, or at least the southern part of this beautiful island. In our resort there were heavily tattooed men regularly taking all the stools at the pool bar, drinking excessively, swearing, allowing their children complete freedom to splash, scream and swear. My sister and I chose to sit away, almost wary of these people who displayed so little respect for their fellow holiday makers, and their gentle Balinese hosts.
Not pretty (photo LP 2012)
That is not to say that everyone was ill mannered. I have learnt over the years never to judge a book by it’s cover . As neither of my children have tattoos, and I am unfamiliar with the culture of body art, on one occasion I plucked up the courage to ask one man the significance of his tattoos…his body was almost completely covered. He said every one of them meant something to him, except for the ones he had got when drunk! His wife said he was addicted to the pain and the pleasure of seeing the finished product; maybe I'm just too old, but I don’t get it.
Melbourne Cup Lunch, Biancos Restaurant, 2012
When we tried the shopping strips the situation was worse. My sister, who has been staying at the same resort for 21 years and is obviously familiar with the area, was even shocked…”It’s never been this bad” she observed. Men and women, from about 20 to 75 wandered the streets, yelling, dressed in “Bintang” tank tops, or if it was too hot for them to wear even such a small shirt would walk around bare chested. The women, dressed in the Balinese dresses which could be bought for $6.00 screeched at the local Balinese trying to entice them into their tiny, meagre shops, and yelled at the taxi drivers. It was not unusual to see the men urinating in laneways…where is the respect for the local population we asked ourselves? We were ashamed by our countrymen and women.
These "sentinels", outside our room, protected the ladies! (photo LP 2012)
Somehow the Balinese, so in need of tourism, are able to tolerate this disrespectful behaviour…perhaps out of necessity.
Welcoming music Padma Resort (photo LP 2012)
We did discover some lovely restaurants, away from the maddening crowd...
Sip Wine Bar, Seminyak (photo LP 2012)
...and beautiful florists...
Heliconia Florist, Seminyak (photo LP 2012)
We often read opinion pieces in the newspapers here in Australia about lack of respect in the schools, towards the police, the violence in the streets stemming from our lack of respect for ourselves and an overindulgence in alcohol fuelling that violence.
If the people I saw in Bali behaving the way they did, with scant regard for the personal space of others, are an indication of the way many Australians travel overseas; and on my many travels to Europe I have also seen bad behaviour on aircraft, largely fuelled by the free alcohol…then the label of the “ugly American” abroad has been usurped by that of the “ugly Australian”.