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Emails on Taylor Kitsch, Carrying Capacity, Illegal Villas, ‘DK’ License Plates, Unlicensed Guides, Jail for Regency Officials, Zoning Violations, Noise in Kuta, Hotel Development in Canggu & Green Education Efforts in Ubud.

(3/17/2012) [We'll Huff and We'll Puff and Blow Your House Down] -  our coverage of a call by the vice-regent of Badung to demolish 300 illegal villas in south Bali caused one reader to speculate:

"I wonder when other regencies (e.g. Karangasem) in Bali will adopt the 'rule of law' and enforce the law as appears to be happening in Badung. I also wonder when the English language press will expand its perspective to the rest of the island."

[Kitsch as Kitsch Can] - covering the international uproar caused by Hollywood star Taylor Kitsch and his comments on treatment by immigration officers at Bali airport brought a number of letters.
"If Bali immigration officers used a bit of sense then us regular travelers to Bali would have our 10-year passports last at least 7 years before being full with 1-inch visas stamped dead center of the page. Try asking for it to be put to one side and making room for other visas, and the reply is ‘how much you pay’! If you want to really want to know what goes on at the airport, ask an expat."
"‘Meanwhile, immigration officials are insisting that their man, identified only by the initials RE, was guilty of little more than a miscommunication with the young actor.’"

"Given the track record of Immigration Officials at Bali's International Airport, and their love for bribery, are we really supposed to swallow this ‘miscommunication’ excuse? Clean the place out and stop the practice of corruption at the Airport."

[Bali: A Victim of its Own Success] - an article quoting the PHRI chairman and Gianyar regent, ‘Cok Ace’ questioning the sustainability of Bali’s current commitment to mass tourism earned many letters.
“Very sad. But it's too late, I think. We went over that line a while ago. Let's see how long 'mother nature' can put up with it all. I think she'll be angry eventually and it's scary to think about the end result when she shows us her anger!”
“Tjokorda's 'marketing' mentality is difficult to understand. Who knows what the ‘actual carrying capacity of the island’ is?”

“Bali's population (3.9 million) is already approaching three times the ‘ideal’ number (about 1.5 million), according to local academic experts. That's not counting tourists, whether foreign or domestic.”

“Part of Bali's continuing degradation can be attributed directly to PHRI-Bali, of which Tjokorda is the current chairman as well as being the Regent of Gianyar, and others like him.”

“How he could control the "quality" of tourists coming to Bali is beyond me.”

“The rapid marginalization of traditional values in Bali has many sources. For example, young Balinese plugged in to social networking through their cell phones. Young Balinese who don't want to speak Bahasa Bali because it's not "cool."

“Ubud has turned into a mini-urban nightmare. Who let that happen? Places like Tanah Lot are like a Hindu theme-park these days.”

“The 'blame' for all this cannot be solely aimed at 'tourists.' Greed, corruption and indifference are more likely candidates.”

[They've Got Your Number]  reporting on the crackdown on “Non-DK” licenses plates operating in Bali, prompted a wise observation from one reader in Sanur.
“Indonesian law requires that one may only register a vehicle in the place of residence, as per the address on the KTP. So if a Jakarta resident has a second home in Bali and wishes to leave a vehicle in Bali, by national law, he/she cannot register a vehicle in Bali.”

“So how does Bali Province seek to legally apply such a regulation to owners of vehicles with a non-Bali KTP?”

“National law clearly prevails over Provincial regulations.”

[Misguided in Bali] which reported the anger of the governor over illegal guides in Bali and his demand for their imprisonment brought a letter:
“I have been hearing about the problems with unlicensed tour guides for some time. But what is not clear to me is exactly which type the Governor is referring to. For example, does he mean the thugs who demand that visitors use them even for short visits to Besakih and charge outrageous rates? Or does he mean the freelance drivers who take tourists on informal tours around the island and also give some information and describe points of interest? The first is clearly a blot on Bali and the reputation of its people. The second is, in my opinion, a way to employ thousands of hard-working people and bridges the gap between taking tour busses and having to figure out Bali's attractions by yourself and on your own steam.' 

[Go Directly to Jail]  outlining the conundrum caused by the 2009 Zoning Law and the possibility of prison terms for regency officials brought a letter from Ubud.
“I say convert all those illegal villas and hotels into prisons for the people who built them without permission. Plus the facts that the owners of villas near the Kerobokon prison have complained about having the facility so nearby. Well, serves you right. The prison was there long before the villas. So don't complain and just be good neighbors with your fellow prisoners!"

[It All Comes Out in the End] detailing the potentially macabre fate awaiting an Australian man who tried to smuggle commercial quantities of drug into Bali inside his gut brought a spirited response:
“Let's hope that there is no 'plea bargaining' and that he receives the death penalty! He faces death for $150K US of crap... Those drugs would have destroyed hundreds of lives on Bali!! Indonesia has great drug laws and they need to stand by them or run the risk of losing credibility.”

[Fait Accompli or Faux Pas]  on reports of possible zoning and building violations by The Alaia Echo Beach Hotel in Canggu also brought letters:
“What a joke Bali has become in the regard to building codes, if it actually has any. Most properly run governments have rules and regulations that the populace are expected to follow and if they don't penalties apply. Not so in Bali which seems to be more in the ‘Wild West’ of the 19th Century. If you have money you can do what you like without fear of retribution. There is a hotel in the heart of Kuta that was meant to be prevented from continued building, prevented from being opened, prevented from continued trading and threatened with demolition and is still trading! A joke!"

[In the Still of the Night]  part of our continuing coverage of efforts to enforce closing times at Kuta nightspots also elicited letters:
“We have been bearing with this kind of nuisance for the past 6 years. When we complained to the owner of the cafe, he got wild and said that it was a matter of ‘life and death’ for him. He made his living from the cafe (which was not true, anyway, since everybody in the vicinity knows that he has several other sources of income). He even threatened us instead and mentioned someone's name as his ‘backing.’ "

“My doctor friend tells me that each and every organ in our body as its resting hours, and from 11 pm to around 1.00 am is the sleep time for liver.”

“There has to be a better and wiser decision in this matter. If they want to remain open until 2 am, then they must have sound proofing so as not to risk others health.”

[Waste Not Want Not]  detailing efforts to educate Ubud school children on the need to live a green lifestyle, earned some enthusiastic support:
“Well done. This should be made to be done in all schools around Bali. Education about waste is long overdue, you have to get into this ‘Century’ and think seriously about the future of this world.”