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The Dark Side of Bali – is Bali a dangerous place to live or travel?

dark-side-baliA television show screened last night in Australia titled, “The Dark Side of Bali”.  The statistic of one Australian dying every nine days in Bali was used to promote the show.  What does this figure actually mean?  Is Bali a dangerous place to travel to?  Over 400 people die in Australia every day.  Does that make Australia a dangerous place to live?

When you look however at the number of Australians visiting Bali, the number of deaths is put into a little more perspective.  Indonesia ranks just behind New Zealand as the most popular overseas destination for Australians. In 2011, 788,644 Australians visited Bali and in 2012 there were 968,849 visitors (source: Jakarta Post).

In 2012 48 Australians died in Indonesia maybe around 40 deaths in Bali.  So it’s about one in 24,221 people who meet their death in Bali.  A risk that I think most people would accept. There were more deaths in Thailand (111), Philippines (68), Greece (60), Vietnam (54) and the US (51) in 2012.  If you look at the deaths per visitor, the Philippines has the highest rate.

Thailand 930,599 visitors, 111 deaths (0.001192%)
Philippines 191,150 visitors, 68 deaths (0.03557%)
Vietnam 289,844 visitors, 54 deaths (0.01863%)

One of the major causes of deaths in Bali is traffic accidents, particularly motorbike accidents.  Speed, lack of experience, no helmet and alcohol are the main causes of accidents.  You also have people dying from drug overdoses and alcohol poisoning.  Bali has quite a large expat population, including a number of retirees. So included in these statistics are people dying from natural causes.

Bali can be a dangerous place, especially if you ride around on a motorbike with no helmet; get drunk in nightclubs and get into fights with people.  Indonesia is still a developing country and lacking a lot of infrastructure.  I think when people travel overseas they perhaps take more risks and carry fewer inhibitions than they would in their home environment.  Many tourists are not familiar with the laws of the country they are traveling to and some who abuse the perceived lack of law enforcement.

Much of the trouble that gets reported with drunken tourists in Bali, takes place in a small strip in Kuta.  That area in Kuta where the nightclubs are located is as representative of Bali, as Kings Cross is to Australia.  Just by using your own common sense and not losing your usual sense of judgment, I think Bali can be a safe place to visit or even live.  Yes, there is an element of danger and chaos, but certainly no better or worse than many places in the world.

Do you think is Bali a safe place to live or travel?  Does the Australian media exaggerate the situation in Bali?



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42 Responses to The Dark Side of Bali – is Bali a dangerous place to live or travel?

  1. michelle July 22, 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I totally agree with your comments. I think the media totally blow everything out of proportion. I live in Bali and feel totally safe here. I feel more safe here than when I was living in Australia. its a pity the media cant write about the good things that happen here and not the bad stuff all the time.

  2. Andre July 22, 2013 at 4:06 pm #

    Totally agree, the media seem to have a vendetta against Bali..Is it politically motivated since we have young Australians in kerobakan jail for life or on death row ? . I have read your statistics before and appalled at the treatment BALI receives in the Australian media, but they don’t seem to report on the young drunks being killed on motorcycles but prefer to report drownings in water drains, and electrification by touching a pole. We visit Bali three months each year and feel much safer there than we would walking in Sydney on a Saturday night.

  3. vicki July 22, 2013 at 9:31 pm #

    I was going to watch the documentary that they had put on called “The Dark side of Bali”. Why I did not was mainly because I love Bali and have been going there since the 70’s, at no time have a felt unsafe to the point of never wanting to return there, I did not frequent the many clubs or get involved with unsavory characters involved in unsavory ventures.
    I have been involved in business dealings in the early 90’s so it was not just a holiday destination. My dream has been to live there but due to circumstances I cannot control has not eventuated, still trying to get there.
    I believe the program that was aired in my mind seems to be more politically motivated in the finance sector of politics. I read that Edith Cowan University(Perth) where doing a an investigation as to why so many W.A.’s where living over there, not just the retiree’s but young families and also I heard a rumour that they where going to cut your pension if you retired over there? Really it would not be hard to figure why people would live there rather than in Australia, we having raising costs at an alarming rate,high rent,high costs of housing, it is so very hard to get ahead here and now with the job cuts in every sector it is quite frightening.As Mike Henry said earlier there is danger at home and abroad.

    • johno May 29, 2014 at 12:29 pm #

      i totally agree vicki
      i am looking forward to retiring asap in bali. wonderful people, food, weather and culture. love it. i wish you all the best in getting there. my plan was 10 yrs but every time i go …it goes down buy 1 or 2 yrs…i can’t wait for it to happen

  4. Shaun July 22, 2013 at 10:03 pm #

    I totally agree with your comments and have been a regular visitor to the island both short and long term for business and leisure for 20 years. I returned from my last trip yesterday and was dismayed to find how expensive everything has become. All my local haunts have nearly doubled in price! The cost of accomodation and goods and services has skyrocketed.
    Vietnam for me from now on. Similair to bali and half the price.

  5. Laura July 22, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    I have always felt safe when I have travelled to Bali.
    I feel more comfortable and safe walking in Bali at night than I do in Australia. I agree with all your comments and believe if you use common sense then Bali is a beautiful place to visit.

    • johno May 29, 2014 at 12:31 pm #

      spot on laura !

  6. Dave Weston July 22, 2013 at 10:26 pm #

    Totaly agree with you
    Bali can be dangerous if you do the wrong thing
    Like anywhere treat it and its people with the respect
    that you would want and its a beautiful place to go to or live

    • johno May 29, 2014 at 12:32 pm #

      spot on mate

  7. Colleen July 22, 2013 at 10:39 pm #

    Australians have had a long standing love affair with Bali since the 70’s. Why the media are focused on Bali is beyond me. Every country has it’s dark side. Is there not an act of crime committed everyday in Sydney? Murders, theft, bashings, drug dealing. Come on. It’s time they started reporting on how we impact upon the Balinese culture. How westerner’s have brought their greedy ways with them.How a lot of tourists show little if any respect for Balinese culture. Walking on their offerings, HAVING SEX IN A TEMPLE ! The disgusting behaviour of our schoolies. Other nations are warned when they are booking to go that it is Australian Schoolies time. Wonderful.
    Makes me so proud…NOT.

    • Siu September 3, 2013 at 1:29 am #


      Thank you so much for acknowledging the challenges that has been impacted our beautiful Bali island, I wish in near future, we would love to see more of respectful and enlighted travelers just like you.
      Our deepest appreciation and gratitude !!

      On behalf of our people in Bali, Indonesia.

    • johno May 29, 2014 at 12:35 pm #

      yeah…you r right colleen. what we need to do is not believe the media too much….listen…and learn but not believe too much….people who love bali (and have been there a few times) know this is all bs

  8. Robyn July 22, 2013 at 10:52 pm #

    Totally a sensationalist piece of trashy story telling. You could do the same story on Melbourne, Sydney or the Gold Coast and show that overseas, but is that the real representation of us? No! The media love to beat up anyone, anything or anywhere to make a dollar. That is not the real Bali. It’s a small element that anyone with some intelligence would stay away from. Those of us that love Bali, love it for the lifestyle, people and culture. That is why we go there. It is a 3rd world country and you do have to respect it like you would respect anywhere that is not yours. I am off on my 8th trip later this year and am taking my step-children for the first time. It hasn’t deterred us.

  9. ERIC July 22, 2013 at 10:58 pm #

    Over the top? Well a little, Bali is still a filthy rat invested location, answdr honestly when was the last time you saw anyone clean a beach? Dog crap everywhere..and the constant fleecing off tourists by police and lical timeshare… i am sure if you live in expat conclaves like Seminyak or Jinbaran Hills, you feel very safe…different kettle of fish in other areas. I am married to an indonesian and live in Jakarta, and love the country.. but please do not try and tell me Bali is an ialand paradise…go travel mauritus. Sychelles, Aruba, Fiji.. there are some wonderful truly safe stunning beautiful places in the world and Bali is not one of them. It is a cheap location for middle of the road people, the more well healed clients do what I do and give it a miss.

    • Siu September 3, 2013 at 2:00 am #


      In case if you have not noticed yet, there are Dog’s crap everywhere in Jakarta, too. My dear husband is an American, and if he ever felt and wrote a blog just like you did while living and breathing in Indonesia, he knows that he would have to ship his sorry rear back to US.
      Yes, it is a third world country, and it is far from perfect! But, we always be mindful to make our guest feel welcome, and go beyond what we can to make them feel at home.
      Lastly, with all imperfectness surround the country’ and the people, we are still a nation that put Good manners onto our highest value and priority in life, so we are sure to pass it on to next generation!

  10. Miranda July 22, 2013 at 11:03 pm #

    I totally agree with the blog. I have visited Bali in the past and found my experience to be a beautiful and spiritual one. I chose to spend very little time in Kura and instead headed for the hills of Ubud and took in a few road trips from there, where I was able to see a true reflection of culture, the beautiful and kind Balinese people and their traditions. Unfortunately with most areas of life where popularity=money, the media in Australia has a great deal of power and rarely let the truth get in the way of ratings, especially when it comes to breeding fear in to their viewers. As with anywhere you choose to travel or live, a clear mind and a bit of awareness is going to assist in keeping you safe. If you choose to indulge in the party scene of Kuta please ensure you have a buddy system, use your common sense, or simply don’t overindulge to the point of losing control- as I would hope one would do in any party scene wherever they are in the world.
    Bali is one of my favourite destinations and I strongly recommend people to experience it for themselves. As for the Australian media, don’t believe all that you see or read. Take the time to your own research before forming any opinion….please don’t be spoon fed it from TV.

  11. Ross July 22, 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    I don’t believe it’s any more dangerous than ‘home’, wherever ‘home’ is. A large part of the problem is that people who don’t ride motorcycles at home choose to learn, without a instruction, in Bali (and Thailand), and the don’t appreciate there is only one road rule. That rule is, “There are no rules”.
    Many drink to excess and get involved in fights, and use drugs of unknown purity. If you play the game, you take the knocks.
    There was a similar program to this aired several years ago, and it was subsequently revealed that it was sponsored by the Australian Hotels Association!! No guessing about what their motive was.
    I’ve been holidaying in Bali since 1979, perhaps more than 50 visits, and I still enjoy the place. I think Eric is a touch elitist and trying to tell us he is ‘well heeled’??
    Certainly the Kuta strip has more than its share of idiots, and unfortunately that is now spreading to Ubud, but get away from both those areas, and it’s still a very pleasant place to spend some time. Lovina is way under rated, especially for families, no surf, and black sand, but a very restful place to spend holiday time, as are many other parts of the island, a diverse culture, stunning beauty, but unfortunately a lot of litter. The locals will be educated over time on that matter.

    • Rick Powell July 23, 2013 at 9:51 pm #

      I totally agree with Ross,having lived in Bali for 3.5 years and at the age of 65 I find Bali,Lombok and Java fantastic. Scenery and the people are great. Both Java and Lombok are predomantlly Muslim Islands but the people are so friendly and although very poor can afford the time to give you a smile as you pass them by.
      TRY that in Australia. TRY INDONESIA for your self and don’t believe the crap that the Australian press give you, Having worked as a cameraman for a couple of TV stations in Aus. I know their Agenda!

  12. Mark July 22, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    Totally agree, ALMOST – please take another look at your percentages… if 3.5% of 191150 people were dying in the Philippines it would be a Holocaust, namely almost 7000 people.

  13. Greg July 22, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    The channel that aired that report (Channel 9) also airs Australia’s 60 Minutes. Many years ago 60 Minutes had a very negative segment on Bali which prompted the T-shirt “2 weeks in Bali is better than 60 Minutes”. I love Bali and don’t believe this negative reporting will do much harm….at this point. However, Kuta needs big clean up, get rid of the local? (surely not Balinese) gangs, the Corrupt Police and the drunken, disrespect full loudmouth Aussie clowns that spoil it for the rest of us,and she’ll be perfect in paradise!

  14. Ross July 23, 2013 at 12:16 am #

    Eric, I misunderstood your post. I thought you said ‘well heeled’, meaning quite affluent, but you said ‘well healed’ which means your injury has healed well. My apology!!

    • eric July 23, 2013 at 6:47 am #

      lol, …… problems using predictive text and not reading message. thanks for the slap on the wrist

  15. Temajin July 23, 2013 at 12:17 am #

    married to a Jawa woman, live in Canggu, splitting time b/w there & Medewi, Singaraja, Jawa, Blora etc…love Indonesia, definetly confronting country in terms of poverty, cleanliness etc, but look beyond all that & see intrinsic beauty of the people & the country. I distinctly avoid placing myself or wife in compromising situations, I feel distinctly uncomfortable in situations with Aus “indigenous” personnae & choose to avoid areas in Aus where I’m same as here in Bali/Indonesia “bule”…I’ve been made aware of local justice as a topic in conversation & I support this. every country in the world has it’s “dark side”, the doco conducted with “Aus” inmates/residents in Kerobokan, what hell would they have unleashed if successful importing quantities of heroin into Aus & then what, another”run”! only error here is not conducting swift justice when sentenced! travel is a fantastic adventure,treat it with the respect it deseserves…

  16. David July 23, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Eric, your comments are not a true representation of Bali. As Mike points out there are areas such as Kuta where problems do occur and this is mostly fuelled by young people who have no respect for another country or culture. Seeing the way in which some Australian teens conduct themselves in Bali is to be honest an embarassment and the authorities should bring them to order. There are many beautiful unspoilt areas of Bali and in my opinion effort should be made to preserve this. Much effort is being made to clean the beaches of Bali (in particular Kuta) and through education much will be achieved.

  17. Frank Hestermann July 23, 2013 at 12:44 am #

    Over the top, YES, but Eric’s right it has third world issues,and has Red light Tourist issues as well that attract the decadent and criminal element, but what city hasn’t. Positive people like Michael can help to make a change in the country and in human behavior.Education is the Key. Outside of the tourist haunts of fine dining and the creative art that is awe inspiring and enlightening you meet the traditional Balinese people who have a wonderful happy, honest nature. All my friends are Balinese and I love their concentration on religious and Spiritual ceremonies as it puts me in touch with Divinity. I have plans to develop a Multi Billion dollar International business with its head office in Bali, 250 million people in Indonesia as a client base – Fantastic and all I need is a white knight and I know he will come as I am blessed.My philanthropic nature will no doubt help one day to solve some of the sufferings that occur from bad habits and infrastructure that occur in the environment that we live.When we lift our effort of goodness the world becomes a happier place.

  18. Miranda July 23, 2013 at 2:09 am #

    I totally agree with the blog. I have visited Bali in the past and found my experience to be a beautiful and spiritual one. I chose to spend very little time in Kuta and instead headed for the hills of Ubud and then took in a few road trips from there, where I was able to see a true reflection of culture, the beautiful and kind Balinese people and their traditions. Unfortunately with most areas of life where popularity=money, the media in Australia has a great deal of power and rarely let the truth get in the way of their ratings, especially when it comes to breeding fear in to their viewers.
    As with anywhere you choose to travel or live, a clear mind and awareness is going to assist in keeping you safe. If you choose to indulge in the party scene of Kuta please ensure you have a buddy system, use your common sense, or simply don’t overindulge to the point of losing control- as I would hope one would do in any party scene wherever they are in the world.
    Bali is one of my favourite destinations and I strongly recommend people to experience it for themselves. As for the Australian media, don’t believe all that you see or read. Take the time to your own research before forming any opinion….please don’t be spoon fed an opinion from TV.

  19. Simon July 23, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    I agree with your comments and feel very safe in Bali. But just to let you know your percentages are wrong. All need a decimal point and a 0.

  20. Ross July 23, 2013 at 5:48 am #

    We’re on the same page Miranda.

    If there is a criticism I have it is that the Balinese have become greedy, and more rip off merchants as the years have gone by, but it doesn’t seem to have affected tourism, so they persist.

    My view is that you’re more likely to encounter misfortune through stealth than violence in Bali, pickpocketing, funny money, etc., than being rolled and robbed.

    I have tip for travelers visiting Bali, and that is change money only at PT Central Kuta, offices everywhere around Kuta and Legian, etc., or at Dirgahayu Valuta, just a few meters toward Denpasar from Bemo Corner, opposite the Indian Restaurant. They have consistently best rates, and no programmed calculators, funny money, etc.

  21. AndreP July 23, 2013 at 6:50 am #

    They wouldn’t have a show without the sensationalism of the bad stories. Like anywhere, be sensible, do your research, eyes open and be kind. Nowhere is perfect, not even Bali.

  22. eric July 23, 2013 at 6:53 am #

    Lombok, cant beat it, only a 200,000 plane ticket away…if you have not been, it is was Bali was

  23. Patricia kerkenaar-Richards July 23, 2013 at 7:22 am #

    Hi Mike,
    Thank you for putting things in perspective for me. I found it to be a sad and alarming story and although I fully intend to take due care I intend to continue my visits.

  24. Stef July 23, 2013 at 8:45 am #

    Anyone who is familiar with Bali, will totally agree with all your comments.
    It seems to me that some people in Australia are doing all they can to give Bali a bad review. From what I have heard, this seems to be as promotion for the Ozzie itself as holiday destination. Sad they have to break down another favorite holiday destination for that, very low graded way of acting…
    Since I was a very small kid, my parents and grandparents learned me to use your proper positive elements and capacities to build something up, instead of dashing on others and wrongly use those to turn them against them. This is clearly what’s happening in Australia at the moment. Just think about what happened at the Western Australian tourist office…
    Those negative people better stay in Australia, those loving to travel to a paradise place as Bali is, be welcome!

  25. Rick Powell July 23, 2013 at 10:05 pm #

    “YOU BELIEVE THE PRESS??” Get a life and go see for your self. Indonesia is a magnificent place to travel if you are not an Aussie piss head like we find in Kuta. Go see it all. You will love it.
    Aussie Traveler not young piss head. By the way I love a drink too but have learnt to control my ways.

  26. Phil July 30, 2013 at 6:56 am #

    Is there a site, blog or other area I can get information on Businesses for sale in Legian, Seminyak, Kuta. ? I am particularly interested in a restaurant idea I have and I am seeking a vacant restaurant…business closing down…or premises being built for lease as a restaurant. I don’t know where to look. Bali Bussesses for Sale is a bit dated.

    thank you.

    • Matt Branagh November 24, 2013 at 11:33 pm #

      Best is go to Bali and ask a local.
      There are plenty and if your serious you’ll be on your way real soon.

      But be warned you need to understand Bali before you try and trade there it’s no dream for a westerner with a weak nerve system.

      If your after a dream my advice is just be a tourist. If your after a life style then you need to learn about Bali first. The question you are asking suggests your not in love enough with Bali to own a business there.

  27. andy kaliasem August 6, 2013 at 12:15 pm #

    Hi I just ask do you think it will be easy to compete with the existing restreaunts in the area you are thinking of opening a new resteraunt.
    competition is strong everywhere unless you are a great resteraunter & have dseep pocket be careful
    andy kaliasem

  28. David White October 22, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Well, any place in the world can be dangerous, Bali included.
    I do realize the danger but I still love Bali anyway; we just have to be careful.

  29. Bill October 23, 2013 at 11:06 pm #

    Hyper-sensationalism. Really. To sell advertising. lived all over teh world. felt less safe in Australia than any time I was in Bali. Been there many times. Lived in Indonesia for years in more remote “dangerous ” places than Bali.

  30. Matt Branagh November 24, 2013 at 11:26 pm #

    I’ve been traveling to Bali for quite a few years now, in fact I have a home there and my partner comes from Indo.
    We consider Bali our first home, although like many I know we still work in the lucky country and run a life of visas and plane rides.

    I agree with your comments and I add in think Bali is a very friendly safe destination if you are a respectful sensible person.

    The Risks of death in Bali are less than they are here in Australia if you do the rite thing and respect Bali and it’s people.
    (Something many tourists forget to do)

    Tourists are the life blood of Bali and are respected beyond expectation.
    It’s a shame tourist often cannot respect Bali and it’s people.

    Bike accidents take many lives and injure more.

    My advice to friends is if your going to ride a bike buy a helmet.

    It will cost you $30 possibly save your life and when your finished with it give it to the local you just made friends with.
    The worst thing they will do with it is sell it to someone who needs a helmet.
    Who knows you may even be able to save a life.

    Be sensible and treat the place like you would your own country, don’t be irresponsible and you’ll love Bali and Bali will love you back.

    Now do me the world and Bali a favor.
    When your at the beach pick up five pieces of plastic and bin it.
    I have a rule that every time I go to the beach I must retrieve at least 5 pieces of plastic.
    If we all do this Bali will be a better place.

    Love Bali …… Live life.


  31. Cheekyface January 15, 2014 at 8:13 am #

    Personally, Bali is no more dangerous than any other free country in the world. Its a beautiful Island with lovely people…its just the tourists that give it a bad name at times. Tourists, especially Australians, like to go to Bali, get drunk off their faces, some do drugs as well, and then when they get arrested or have a bad experience, they lay the blame on Bali. I’m not saying Bali is not corrupt, but its no more-so than anywhere else in Indonesia and a lot of other countries around the world. Even Australia is corrupt…the only difference is that Indonesia is open about it and Australia lies.
    I love to go to Bali and would love to live there one day with my Indonesian hubby…..
    Life in Bali is totally misrepresented by the drunken young western idiots who treat it like party central, then wonder why it all goes wrong for them.
    Respect a foreign country, respect its laws, and remember that WE are visitors in someone elses home. Alas, there is little to no respect here in Australia, for not only the laws, but for any authority, so its no wonder the young drunks get in trouble with the Balinese authorities….then blame the island. Not fair, Bali is paradise and the people are wonderful.

    Love Bali…..

  32. malhaar yadav January 17, 2014 at 3:53 am #

    Want to move to bali. Which are the best options. Pl advise

  33. Johanna Preston March 17, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Well, sorry to be controversial but we have been living in
    Bali for over a year now after 5 years of doing business her beforehand (and have no plans to leave) and I have to say that our experiences over this year have led us to the opinion that actually Bali isn’t the safe place we thought it was.

    To put all this in perspective, we moved here from inner city Melbourne and at one time lived for two years in Smith St Fitzroy at the height of the ‘heroin epidemic’ that was in full swing in the mid 90’s – the entrance to our warehouse/home was via a car park in a back lane and we are no strangers to very extreme public violence, continual theft etc. We lived in this area for a total of 16 years and have been exposed to a lot of pretty extreme behaviour. Having said that, once the heroin moved elsewhere I always felt safe there in my local territory….

    However, our experiences here have been no less extreme.

    Firstly, there was the theft of my friend’s handbag while she was walking down our street in Umalas by someone on the back of a motorbike – ok – we justified this with the ‘this could happen anywhere in Melbourne too’ rationale.

    Then we hired a casual cleaner in preparation for some guests coming to stay. A couple of days later we came home from lunch to discover that everything that we owned that was small and of any value had been stolen (including my daughter’s brand new timberland boots she had scrimped and saved for) – we discovered that one of our house keys was missing and assume that it was stolen by the maid and handed on to the thieves – once again ‘ this could happen in Melbourne’ – we installed a safe and have eschewed the services of any casual employees.

    But then things got more extreme. Last September I was riding a friend’s 12 year old daughter back to Canggu on the back of my motorbike at about 9.30 at night (both of us wearing helmets – riding very carefully) when someone tried to steal my handbag from the back of another motorbike. Of course an accident ensued and thank god the child wasn’t hurt apart from two small grazes but I was seriously injured – knocked unconscious, covered in grazes with one side of my face looking like the elephant man and the white if my eye bruised crimson for the next 4 weeks. Needless to say it was awful and certainly something that would be an extreme occurrence in Australia – which would include a fairly extensive police investigation, media coverage and public warnings. Certainly not an experience that I could justify with ‘this would easily happen in Smith St.

    Thankfully the security working at the villa near where it happened were incredibly helpful and even drove my motorbike back to our house.

    After the event we were told by our friends over here that this kind of thing is very common and it is unsafe for a woman to ride a motorbike alone at night around the Canggu area – especially if she is driving slowly and safely!! Whereas I was initially told to keep my bag across my body on the bike to avoid theft I was now told that it must be kept under the seat (not an easy ask when the seat area barely holds my rain jacket….). If only we had been given these pieces of advice in the beginning.

    We now know of at least 4 other incidents of this type of thing including an expat cafe owner who now has a body full of metal pins due to the same type of ‘accident’.

    Unfortunately that’s not all….

    Just before Christmas we were heading back with our teenage niece and nephew from a weekend in Padangbai in a hire car – driving down Jl Gatot Subroto at dusk – when we got a flat tyre. We pulled over to the side of the road and shortly after a man came along and offered to help us change the tyre. Being a typical Aussie woman (well ok not so typical..) I got out of the drivers seat to help (apparently a big no no – someone should always stay in the car). We were having trouble finding the jack and the spare and put all our bags and towels etc etc in the front of the car – to lift the back seat to access the implements. I was just wondering what a fair price would be to pay our helper when I heard my partner yell and we saw him zooming off on the back of a motorbike with our bags – all up 3 handbags – 3 phones, both my partner and daughter’s brand new cameras (not long replacing the previous one stolen from the house), purses (thank god my partner’s wallet was in his pocket or we would have had no access to money whatsoever), house & motorbike keys etc etc – it was devastating – especially for our relatives who were flying out two days later.

    We managed to hail down some traffic police which took forever – no one responding to our gesticulating (once again, wouldn’t have happened in Australia – at least not to us in Melbourne) who were no help whatsoever – they were apparently the wrong type of traffic cops – they did manage to hail down another car who were vaguely more help but apparently had no jurisdiction as there is a whole other police force that deals with theft. We were really lucky to be helped by two local men from the mosque across the road, without whom we would have been completely stuffed. The traffic cop insisted on keeping the car keys and promised that he would contact the rental car owner and make sure the car got back to him. We were really worried as there was documentation in my bag that identified our address and needed to get home to change the locks and ensure that our motorbikes hadn’t also been stolen. The guys from the mosque were absolutely amazing – drove us to the other police station and helped us make our reports. Drove us around til we found a locksmith and met him at our house while we changed the locks. Then drove my partner back to the police station and the rental car – which was still there – turned out that the traffic cop had no intention of getting the car back to its owner – he was holding on to the keys to extort money out of us to get them back. We were terrified that the rental car would be stolen (by the cop or his cronies) by this stage and were just completely bewildered. The mosque guys told us not to worry they would watch the car and make sure nothing would happen to it. We were by this time envisaging being hit for a $20k fee to replace a stolen rental car above and beyond everything else….

    Back at home I was madly trying to cancel all our credit cards (7 in my wallet alone) via skype as I had no phone to make phonecalls with – it was a nightmare.

    The next day at 10am someone from the rental car company came to collect the car and it was only then that it dawned on us that even the police were trying to scam us.

    After the event, we were told by our friends here that it is a very common scam for people to put something (ie nails through a thong sole) onto the road to cause a flat and then steal from the unsuspecting victim – they usually do it at atms to steal the cash.

    Once again a situation that in Australia would have attracted media and would certainly have been taken seriously by the police. While in Australia we generally like to loath the police, we also do trust that they will, within reason, do the right thing by us and not try to extort money from vulnerable victims of crime. It was just the most disheartening experience.

    While it hasn’t changed our feelings about living here – we are still very happy to have made the change and if we can get a great education for the senior years of high school over here for our two kids at some kind of affordable rate, we will be staying here very long term, the last two experiences here have made us, needless to say, quite paranoid.

    Interestingly, the comments from all the locals about the last two events (especially the one where my face was such a mess – there was no avoiding comments) they all said ‘it had to be someone from Java – no one from Bali would do a thing like that’.

    I believe there are bad people everywhere and the Balinese are certainly not exempt from criminal activity. Whereas I have a very high level of trust for my Javanese workers.

    We are certainly not foolish naive travellers and have never been guilty of the shitty behaviour we have come to expect from Australians abroad. Unfortunately bad things happen to everyone and the perpetrators can come from anywhere. However, our experience to date has to at least support the view that Bali isn’t really as safe to travel in as we initially thought. While I hate the media beat ups that were the catalyst for this forum, maybe they weren’t so far off the mark.

    From our point of view, we just wish that we were given the advice we received after the events beforehand!!!

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