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(6/28/2010) Our article [Is Bali being Conned by Condotels?] revealing that the majority of Condotels in Bali are operating illegally prompted the following letter :
• Susan Darcy wrote to say :
" The government should close them all down, then tear them down and charge the owners for the cost of tearing them down. What are the names of the others?"
[Building a Nest Egg for the Ocean's Future ] – our coverage of a new turtle egg hatchery and educational center on Kuta Beach caused one reader to comment :
• Kim Rudd in Queensland, Australia wrote:
"I would like to say thank you, for the chance of helping to return the baby turtles back into the water, I was in Bali for the last 3 weeks and had the joy of helping. Now back in Australia, i just wanted to say thank you and well done."
[Cost of Bali Holiday Increases as Euro Declines] explaining why a declining Euro is making a Bali holiday expensive for some, stimulated the following somewhat "off topic" response:
• Neil Fairhall of Australia commented:
"Just another point on rising costs in Bali from an Australian point of view. For those of us who arrived two weeks ago when the $AUS was down against the $US, paying our Villa rental in Indonesia Rupiah, has proven somewhat more expensive than in the past. For those of us who are retired and like to spend up to two months at a time in Bali, this really makes a difference to our budgeting. This also comes on a 100 percent increase in just 18 months in the Villa monthly rental."
"Back in May, Garuda had completed the refurbishment of its Business Class Cabins with the new "lay flat seat beds" on its Sydney flights, and I guess, its Melbourne flights. Where as this makes it an excellent and very comfortable way to travel, unfortunately from the first of May 2010, the price of the airfare in Business class was increased by a further 50 percent."
"Where as many, like me, will, of course, still continue to come to Bali. Instead of coming twice a year, we now limit that to just once a year, or will just have two shorter visits.
Unfortunately also, despite the finger printing and photo ID checks being temporarily suspended, the time taken to clear Immigration and customs is still far too long."
[Bali Taxi Business Declines] – and other related articles forming part of our continuing coverage of the Bali Taxi Wars, brought these emails to our in-box:
• Eric Bevan said:
"I will only use Bluebird taxis in Bali as I have been cheated by high prices by other taxis, and Bluebird meters are always to be trusted. Other taxis must provide the same good service as Bluebird to get equal use by tourists; we are not fools to be robbed by bad taxi companies."
• Heinz, a reader in Germany contributed :
"I support the high standards of Blue-Bird taxi. It is quite obviously, that the competitors often try to cheat foreigners, so keep on rolling Blue-Birds!"
• Frank Perry in Australia added :
"As a regular visitor to Bali I have observed that the Blue Bird Taxi fleet is cleaner, (provide) better service, far more friendly, and employ professional drivers. I will wait 20 minutes for a Blue Bird cab even if it means ignoring the solicitations of any number of scruffy operators to the detriment of my time."
• Dell wrote to say:
"Please leave bluebird taxis alone. We were in Bali last year and found them to be the only honest and trustworthy taxis. Always clean and polite and always had the meter on. Other taxis usually had no meter and ripped tourists off. Once we went to dinner and it was approx Rp. 30,000 with Blue Bird to go to dinner and the exact same return trip the other taxi asked for more than double and was extremely rude when we questioned. Don't kill the goose that laid the golden egg! Blue Bird Taxis are an asset to Bali - stop hassling them please!"
[Love Us or Leave Us] – the coverage of the somewhat pointed comments delivered by Minister of Culture and Tourism, Jero Wacik, at the re-launching of the "Bali in My Life" campaign brought the following letters:
• Active Bali-based blogger Susi Johnston said:
"Yes, he has a point. On the other hand, if Indonesia would 'play fair' with foreign entrepreneurs and workers coming to Bali, I think there would be more 'cake sharing' on the part of the foreigners. For example, Indonesia must reform its tax, residency, property ownership and business ownership regulations applicable to foreigners. If Indonesia is not willing to relate with foreign entrepreneurs and workers on a 'win-win' basis from the get-go, then it isn't surprising if some foreigners here are cautious and circumspect about participating generously in the prosperity and well being of the society around them here. When Indonesian society welcomes foreigners with open arms (instead of open hands, palm up), then the relationship between these two parties can become a healthy one that is mutually beneficial."
• Kevin Bell, another Bali resident, had the following pointed comments:
"I am saddened and shocked at the total naivety expressed by those supposedly in the know, yet they know nothing or, at least, live in a pretend world."
My knowledge is based on social contact with village Balinese around Ubud and up on the east and north coasts. The difference between working for a foreigner and an Indonesian is usually enormous in financial terms alone. Rarely do any locally owned businesses, even in the thriving hospitality industry, pay the minimum legal monthly wage and any service charge collected, all or most, goes straight in the owner's pocket. Now, I also realize that some small minded greedy foreigners also copy Indonesian practices, but if it was not for the foreigners most workers in Bali would be even more grossly underpaid than they are now. The same local owners sit on charity boards, receive public acclaim and drive their Mercedes SUV's and Toyota Land Cruisers but never put a hand in their own pocket, they just get richer by the day. I know of many Balinese workers [in stand-alone restaurants and kitchen staff, waiters, housekeeping, etc., in hotels] working in thriving businesses, who only earn Rp.300-500,000 per month, sometimes even less than that [as low as 75-100,000 p.m. and often for 7 days a week, except for ceremonies]. As for service charge, what is that? All are working for a locally owned business. "
Share the Wealth - like many rules/ideals in 3rd world countries is only meant for other people! Sad but true!"
"I hasten to add there are some perfect owners amongst the locals just as there are some foreigners that should be sent packing! I am talking about the majority not minorities."
Bali Airport and the long lines encountered by island visitors remains a steadfast topic for reader comment:
• Edward wrote:
"As a reader of the update and a regular visitor to Bali, I was disgusted at the line up on Friday night JQ37 arrived early and I thought that we be lucky to get through the airport quickly (my usual wait is about 30 minutes). I and most others were lined up for between 90 minutes to 2 hours; the arriving tourists packed the hot and stuffy immigration hall. There were a lot of families with young children and babies."
"We all come here for a great and relaxing holiday and love Bali, but the treatment of incoming tourists is nothing short of disgusting. It's just as well they halted the fingerprinting process."
Indonesia's main asset is the tourists that flock to Bali. When is the immigration department going to wake up and realize that some people will never come back here? First impressions last!"
[Editorial: Has Garuda Lost the Thread on Heritage Conservation?] challenging the Indonesian National Carrier's decision to use printed "batik-like" fabrics instead of the genuine article in their new stewardess uniforms persuaded some to write:
• Murray Leggatt commented:
"Great story, with so much pressure on the Indonesian culture, and more so, Bali from outside and Western influences - its vitally important for Indonesia to hold on to the traditional ways. Once they're gone together with the elders who teach the old ways; they are lost for all time."
• Gary Schultz from Australia said :
"Please ! Please ! Only use only homespun batik, it is part of the whole trip to Bali."
• Barbara Johnson writing from Jakarta added :
"Excellent article! I do hope someone in a lofty position with Garuda will insist on canceling the order for batik 'palsu.' They then should get batik workers/artists busy producing by hand the batik for uniforms that should be worn proudly by Garuda staff as representatives of Indonesia."
[Bali New Zoning Laws in a Sate of Confusion] in which a call by a Karangasem legislator called on the government to stop building hotels and restaurants in east Bali brought these letters to our inbox.
• Wendy Foldes from Florida, U.S.A. wrote :
"I could not agree more with I Nyoman Sadra. - The local zoning laws need to be respected and the inventory of existing tourist accommodations needs to be studied."
"I live in an area of Florida, USA, which was overbuilt and many of the people who raised their families here have been priced out of the market, by high end real estate. My sincere suggestion is to carefully plan the growth of each area of Regency. They are not all the same. The last thing you want to lose is the authenticity and attractiveness of the island in the long term for what may seem like a good idea in the present."
• A reader named Sharon had this to say :
"Badung Regency is Just as bad any big developer can still do what ever they like (e.g. Anantara in Bingin). Worst still, large hotels are being built by local people for foreigners with no permission from anybody, let alone observing any zoning laws. These hotels charge over $100 a night often with web sites. What hope has Bali got with leadership like this?"
Finally, [This Land is Posted] - our coverage revealing that, despite much publicity to the contrary, changes in property ownership rules for foreigners are unlikely to undergo any significant change caused one loyal reader to write:
• Roy Thompson from Ubud, Bali said:
"This is good news, especially considering how much real estate has already been occupied by foreigners in just the past few years. Simply put, Bali should not be for sale, regardless of how much money an 'are' of land can bring theses days."
"There is a clear distinction between leasing and the sale of land in Bali, and the present arrangements, when not abused by unscrupulous developers, works just fine."