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BALI UPDATE #1111 - 18 December 2017

IN THIS UPDATE


A Brief Taste of Freedom
Two American Escapees From Baliís Kerobokan Prison Now Back Behind Bars

An American fugitive, Christian Beasley, who escaped from Bali’s Kerobokan Prison on Monday, December 11, 2017, was captured by police at mid-day Friday, December 15, 2017, on a small street in Lombok leading to the Indah Homestay where the prison escapee was staying

As reported by Jawapos.com, police were able to track the American down based on information provided by a girlfriend when police interrogated her on Wednesday. The following day, Thursday, December 14, 2017, police were able to identify Beasely’s location in Lombok and placed him under surveillance while a team of 9 Bali policemen was quickly dispatched to Lombok.

Beasely was arrested by the police as he drove a motorcycle back to his lodgings.

After less than a week on the run, Beasely was brought back to Bali at 10:00 am on Saturday, December 16, 2017.

Beasely (32) made a daring escape on the early hours of Monday, December 11, 2107, by using a hacksaw to cut a hole in the roof of the prison in the company of another American inmate, Anthony Hoffman (57), serving a two-year sentence for robbing a number of convenience stores in Bali.

Beritabali.com reported how the two men, after managing to escape to the roof of cellblock 7 (Lovina Blok), rappelled down the outside wall of the prison using a rope they had prepared. They descended the wall, landing hard on a makeshift hut used by construction workers from a nearby project.

Startled, the project workers managed to immediately apprehend Hoffman and return him to prison authorities, while Beasley, meanwhile, managed to escape eventually making his way to Lombok

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Waiting for Eggs to Hatch
Tourism Minister Says: ďNew BaliĒ Destinations is Indonesiaís Way of Not Putting All its Eggs in Once Basket.

The Indonesian Government is trying to diversify and widen its tourism product offerings via the promotion of the “10 New Bali’s” – 10 Indonesian destinations beyond Bali to attract foreign tourists to the Country.

As reported by travel.detik.com, Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism, Arief Yahya, explains the “10 New Bali’s” strategy as the equivalent of not putting all out “tourism eggs in one basket.”

While Bali remains the main gateway for Indonesia tourism, the new policy seeks to reduce the Nation’s over-dependence solely on the Island for the Country’s tourism fortunes.

Perhaps referring to Bali’s current and sudden downturn in visitors due to the eruption of Mount Agung, Indonesian Tourism Minister Arief Yahya explained: “There’s the old saying: ‘Don’t put all you eggs in one basket.’ If there’s any problem, you’ve lost everything. That is why the Government has created the ’10 New Bali’s.”

Speaking at an awards ceremony for the tourism press, Yahya told his audience that the media has a special task and responsibility in helping to promote the "10 New Bali’s.”

Prize money totaling Rp. 200 million was shared to journalist winners across 5 categories: Newspapers, magazines, online media, television and bloggers.


Bali to Return to Agriculture?
Governor Pastika Surveys the Road Ahead for Bali to Preserve its Future

Bali’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika and the Bali House of Representatives (DPRD-Bali) held a working meeting on Monday, December 11, 2017, to discuss coordination and steps to be taken in the face of the continuing eruption of the Mount Agung volcano to help restore the Island’s tourism sector.

As reported by Metrobali.com, the working meeting was chaired by the chairman of the DPRD-Bali, Nyoman Adi Wiryatama, and attended by key members of the DPRD-Bali and Provincial Government Agencies.

Governor Pastika told those in attendance that strategic steps must be taken in the areas of providing housing for those who have evacuated the areas surrounding the mountain, logistical support for the now homeless, creation of employment opportunities, and steps to restore Bali’s tourism industry.

The Governor outlined plans to restore tourism arrival numbers including meetings with foreign consuls assigned to Bali to persuade them that the Island remains safe to visit on holiday. At the same time, the Central Government in Jakarta have been asked to bring major events and conferences to Bali. Adding: “We have used technology to make Bali’s (safe) condition ‘go viral’ by including personal testimonies from foreign visitors to the Island. We are using our maximum effort to use every tool at our disposal to restore the tourism industry to health.”

A Return to Agriculture?

Separately, Governor Pastika invited the younger generation to start looking for their future in sectors outside tourism. He said now if the time to revitalize Bali’s agricultural sector. “Now is the time to think how to avoid unemployment for people working in tourism. Maybe now is the time to return to agriculture; let’s return to our birthright – farming and livestock development,” said Pastika.

In response to complaints from evacuees who say they are now unable to meet loan obligations with banks, the Governor said he was in talks with Indonesian monetary authorities for special consideration to be given to loans held by those evacuated from areas surround Mount Agung.


Importing Sand and Cement
Airport Underpass Update: 11% Completed and On Target for Opening September 2017

Those in charge of building the new underpass at the entrance to Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport say the eruption of Mount Agung has created some additional obstacles to the project’s completion due to the higher cost of sand that can no longer be mined on the slopes of the volcano in Karangasem Regency.

DenPost said a range of materials, including sand and cement, are now being shipped from locations in Java and Lombok.

A government executive supervising the project said there were no other significant obstacles standing in the way of the underpass’s completion. The boring of land for pile installation was proceeding according to plan

Meanwhile, those in charge of building the project are still waiting for the Badung Water Board (PDAM-Badung) to relocate piping that is targeted for completion by February 2018.

Contractors say the underpass project that was started in September is now at an 11.02% level of completion in early December. The underpass is expected to be fully operational before October 2018 in time for a major World Bank – IMF conference to be held that month.

The 712-meter long underpass will cost a total of Rp. 168 billion in development funds.


Taking the Boom out of Christmas and New Years
Denpasar to Severely Limit Use of Fireworks and Firecrackers over Christmas and New Years Holidays.

Municipal enforcement offices in Denpasar in cooperation with the Police are cooperating to severely limit if not completely eliminate the use of fireworks and firecrackers during the coming Christmas and New Years period.

Balipost.com reports that the chief of the local enforcement agency (Kasatpol PP Denpasar), I Dewa Sayoga,  on Tuesday, December 12, 2017, called on neighborhood and district leaders to cooperate in supervising the use of fireworks and firecrackers in their respective jurisdictions and enforce the law outlawing such activities.

“Based on the rule of law, all agencies are urged to take firm action and inspect the licenses of businesses selling fireworks and firecrackers,” said Sayoga. He also called for the aggressive control of homemade festive explosives constructed from bamboo and PVC piping.

The use of fireworks must now be limited to only New Years Eve and in areas designated for proper use, such as beachfronts and open fields.

Municipal authorities have issued a circular instruction dated December 5, 2017, forbidding the use of all forms of fireworks and firecrackers outside designated beachfront and open field areas.


Make Bali Home for the Holidays!
GIPI-Indonesia Optimistic that Christmas and New Year Bookings will Bounce Back in Bali

The Indonesian Tourism Board (GIPI-Indonesia) is optimistic that Bali will remain a favorite destination for both foreign and domestic tourists over the coming Christmas and New Years holidays despite the continuing volcanic activity at Mount Agung.

The chairman of GIPI-Indonesia, Didien Januaedy, speaking at the Indonesia Travel and Tourism Award (ITTA) held in Jakarta on Monday, December 11, 2017, said: “What’s important, our public relations professionals are able to give a clear picture that Bali is safe to visit and that there are alternative points of access to Bali via Banyuwangi and Lombok.

As reported by Balipost.com, Didien said the Ministry of Tourism continues to coordinate with Indonesian Embassies and Consulates abroad and government agencies within Indonesia to provide the latest information on developments in connection wit Mount Agung. This is being done to prevent the dissemination of incorrect information by domestic and international media regarding the volcano.

Didien said GIPI sincerely appreciated the work undertaken in the field to contain the emergency undertaken by the Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD). Meanwhile, the Ministry of Tourism is focusing on channeling accurate information to both domestic and foreign tourists.


Making Sure Traffic Doesnít Return to Ubud
Ubud in Bali Uses Tourism Downturn to Sort Out its Traffic Problems

Travel.detik.com reports that the Regency of Gianyar in Bali is using the temporary downturn in tourist visitors to the Island of Bali to address long-standing problems of traffic congestion.

Changes in traffic rules have been tested by police since Monday, December 17, 2017.

In an announcement by the Traffic Service for Gianyar Regency, the changes will take effect from mid-December include the prohibition of buses carrying more than 25 passenger seats from entering Ubud.

Meanwhile, medium-sized buses of less than 25-passenger seats will only be allowed to enter the central parking areas of Ubud’s Sacred Monkey Forest and the Puri Dalem Puri.

Small busses with less than 15 passenger seats are only allowed to enter Ubud to embark and disembark passengers.

The Regency official in charge of traffic, Wayan Arthana, said: “Parking is prohibited on roads and sidewalks in Ubud and surrounding areas for all types of vehicles, including motorcycles, cars and delivery vehicles.

Exceptions are granted for embarking or disembarking passengers. Goods can be loaded or unloaded at times and places designated under the new rules.”

Traffic congestion is a common complaint among visitors to Ubud. Officials hope the new traffic rules will eliminate traffic jams when eventually the tourists return in full force in the near future.

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The Devolution of Darwin as a Destination
AirAsia to Ax Bali-Darwin Route Effective January 28, 2018

ABC.net.au reports that AirAsia has announced that they will end its Bali-Darwin route effective January 28, 2018.

After that date, the only airline flying between Bali and Darwin is the Australian carrier Jetstar.

AirAsia announced that the decision to terminate its Darwin to Bali flights was part of a cost-saving restructuring plan by the Airline needed to improve operational efficiency.

AirAsia announced that people holding bookings on the Bali-Darwin service after January 28, 2018 are welcome to change their booking to a new date or receive a full refund.

The Northern Territory Tourism Minister, Lauren Moss, said the Government was disappointed with AirAsia’s decision blaming the eruption of Mount Agung as an underlying factor

Meanwhile, Opposition Leader Gary Higgins is calling on the NT Government to meet with AirAsia and discuss the flight termination that he sees as detracting from Northern Territory trade and business.

Jetstar continues to operate its Bali to Darwin service.


A Paucity of Passengers
Bali Airport Says Passenger Totals Still Down 40-50% as Some Airlines Have Not Resumed Schedules

Despite the reopening of Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport, the continuing “highest alert status” for the Mount Agung Volcano, the general manager of Angkasa Pura, Yanus Suprayogi, reports that 35 international flights have been cancelled to Bali

As reported by Beritabali.com, Suprayogi said on Wednesday, December 13, 2017, that the downturn in international flights is between 40 to 50% dominated by flights from Mainland China and Japan. He also said that domestic flights have also been cancelled.

Suprayogi said the decline in passengers is between 40-50% from an average 60,000 domestic and international passengers per day. That number he says is now nearer to 30,000 passengers. The Angkasa Pura official was not prepared to say if the reduction in flights would last until the New Year holiday period.

Meanwhile, the Airport Authority is making every effort to provide information to the airline community while striving to provide excellent service to the airlines and the passenger now traveling through the Bali airport.

In the event of any closure of the Airport due to volcanic dust in the flight paths to and from Bali, plans are in place to provide alternate land transportation to nearby airports in Java for passengers not able to wait for the airport to reopen. The closure of the airport in late November lasted only 2.5 days.

Yanus Suprayogi also called on the media to provide balanced reporting on Bali. He said many new sources are failing to report that tourism objects in Bali remain safe to visit and enjoy. Instead, they have focused on the volcano eruption and the evacuation of those living near Mount Agung – an exclusion zone representing just 2% of the Island’s landmass.

He said the poor reporting has resulted in exaggerated travel warnings to be issued by some Countries suggesting that Bali holidays should be delayed.


Counselling the Chinese Consul
Bali Governor Urges PRC Government to Reconsider Bali Travel Alert

Beritabali.com reports that Governor Made Mangku Pastika has again emphasised that the Island of Bali remains safe for tourist visitors, despite the continuing active status of the Mount Agung volcano.

The Governor underlined this fact in a meeting with the Consul General of the People’s Republic of China, Hu Yinguan, held in Pastika’s office on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

Continuing to comment, Pastika said there is a need to provide a more complete understanding surrounding the condition of Mount Agung and the Island of Bali as a whole. He said there is a widespread view that the entire island is at the highest alert level of “4” when, in fact, only Mount Agung and a surrounding radius of 8 kilometres is included in the warning. He also said that the situation is under control with trained workers and equipment is now in place to deal with any eventuality connected with Mount Agung. The governor reminded that people living near the Mountain have now largely been removed to a safe distance and the public in Bali posses a high degree of understanding on how to deal with the volcano in the event of an eruption

The Governor told the Chinese Consul that the precautionary and temporary closing of Bali’s airport in late November lasted for only 2.5 days and that the airport is once again fully operational. For this reason, he called on the Chinese Government to tell its citizens that Bali remains safe for tourists. Adding: “Please holiday in Bali. I am certain that Chinese tourists love Bali and want to holiday here again.”

Pastika also took the opportunity to thank the People of China for donations made to the Balinese who have evacuated the slopes surrounding Mount Agung and for providing scholarships for Balinese youth.

Consul Hu explained that the Government of China had issued their travel warning not because of any direct danger from an eruption but because of fears that the Island’s Airport could be closed and disrupt travel. And, despite the warnings, he admitted that many Chinese travellers were still making their way to Bali. He said he hope Mount Agung’s volcanic status would soon reduce to hasten the recovery of the tourism industry and a softening of the current travel alert.


Bali Via its Northernmost Sea Port
Singapore Super-Ship Makes Baliís Celukan Bawang a Weekly Port of Call Through

A 335-meter long passenger cruise ship – MV Genting Dream visited the North Bali Port of Celukan Bawang on Wednesday, December 13, 2017.

The Singapore-based “super-ship” with 20 decks and carrying 5,200 passengers and crew is schedule to make regular calls on Celukan Bawang – the traditional port of call for ships stopping in Bali in the first half of the 20th Century.

As reported by the Balipost.com, the head of tourism for Buleleng Regency, Ir. Nyoman Sutrisna, was on hand to welcome the ships and its passengers and said the passengers would undertake one-day tours to various tourist objects along the north shore of Bali. During the Bali tour excursions passengers visited Lovina, Munduk, Danau Buyan, Danau Tamblingan, Menjangan Island and the West Bali National Park.

The MV Genting Dream sales 5 nights, Sunday to Friday cruise programs through March 18, 2018 with stops in Java and Bali.


Putting Baksheesh in the Backseat
Bali Airport Custom and Excise Office Re-declares its Intention to Eliminate Corruption

The Jakarta Post reports that Customs and Excise officials at Bali’s Ngurah Rai International Airport are pledging to create an “integrity zone” and is “corruption free” in all areas connected to Bali’s sole air gateway

Part of the program, according to Customs and Excise Chief at the Airport, Himawan Indarjono, is the intention to impose sanctions on any officer found to be attempting to collect illegal payments. Adding, “The sanctions include dismissal and they could face criminal charges.”

Himawan took pains to explain that the newly declared campaign merely echoes a long-standing commitment by his office to eradicate corruption. Explaining: “We have enforced the procedures needed to create a corruption free zone before today’s declaration. Through today’s declaration, we are expressing our commitment to make our best effort to ensure Ngurah Rai Airport is a corruption-free area.”


Leak of Fate
German Woman Falls 80-meters to Her Death from Cliffs at Suluban Beach, Pecatu, Bali

A 23-year old German woman, Alina Kuroczik, has died after slipping and falling from the seaside cliff at Suluban Beach at Pecatu on Thursday, December 14, 2017.

NusaBali reports the woman fell from the 80-meter high cliff when she left a group of friends drinking at the Kafe Mitris in order to relieve herself. Kuroczik had arrived at the bar at 11:00 pm on Wednesday evening with 6 friends and her Brazilian male companion, Gabriel Junqueira Lustosa Carnasciali (21). At around 1:20 am, Kuroczik, who was sitting on the cliff, climbed over a short protective wall to urinate when she slipped and fell to her death. Police believe the woman may have been highly intoxicated at the time and lost her balance.

When the German did not rejoin the group, police and local lifeguards were summoned at 1:40 am and immediately dispatched a search and rescue (SAR) team.

The SAR teams needed 2 hours to bring the woman’s body back to the top of the cliff.

Pronounce dead on the scene, the body of Kuriczick was sent to the morgue at Bali’s Sanglah General Hospital for further disposition.

Police have interviewed eyewitness and the woman’s companions, and collected tapes from surveillance cameras in operation near the scene of the accident that confirm witnesses accounts of the tragedy.
 


Lingering Problem of Baliís Mount Agung
Tourism Official Claim Negative Impact of Mount Agung Volcano Worse than 2002 Bali Bombing

The head of the National Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Haryadi Sukamdani, and the head of the Bali Tourism Office, Anak Agung Gede Yuniartha Putra, told Kompas.com that the negative impact of the eruption of Mount is greater than that created by the terrorist bombing in Bali in 2002.

Speaking in Jakarta on Monday, December 11, 2017, Haryadi said: “Hotel occupancies in Bali at this time are concerning. Once the airport was closed (and reopened) the impact was worse than after the Bali bombing.”

The PHRI chairman said it is not easy to persuade foreign tourists on issues related to safety and security. He said that no one could confirm when the continuing eruption of Mount Agung will end. Adding: “Starting from the closure of the airport, travel warnings issued from several countries, and the elimination of travel insurance – all have negatively impacted tourism.”

Haryadi said the recovery after the 2002 bombing was quicker than the lingering downturn in business connected with the eruption of Mount Agung, a viewpoint reiterated by Anak Agung Yuniarta as Bali’s top tourism official.

“The situation is different from the Bali bombing. The bomb exploded and then we could immediately begin working on recovery. Mount Agung is (more) difficult to handle. With the bomb, the recovery was faster. We could immediately begin to work. But with Mount Agung sometimes it is erupting, sometimes it’s not. This makes it hard to persuade tourists (it’s safe). Mount Agung is still on a high alerts status. This creates fear among people wanting to come to Bali. Eliminating that fear is the problem,” said Agung.

The head of the Bali Tourism Service said a number of initiatives are underway within the tourism community to restore the tourism industry’s health. Agung said: “We are creating festivals and tours. We have started a social media campaign that’s gone viral #I’m in Bali. We are doing everything we can. We have to promote Bali.”


Getting the Facts Strait
Foreign Legations in Bali Ask to Help Inform the World that Bali is Safe and Visitors are Not at Risk if Mount Agung Undergoes Large Eruption

Bali’s Governor Made Mangku Pastika invited Consuls from 34 consulates and foreign legations in Bali to a meeting in his office of Friday, December 15, 2017, in order to explain the current situation regarding the Mount Agung volcano and the security situation for tourist visiting Bali.

The Governor told the diplomats that incorrect and exaggerated reports in connection with Mount Agung are causing people to unnecessarily cancel plans for a Bali holiday.

As reported by Beritabali.com, Pastika asked the consuls to assist in persuading the world that Bali remains safe to visit.

“News in the media, particularly in the foreign media, are not in accordance with the real facts, maybe due to concepts lost in translation; such as earth tremors at the volcano being reported incorrectly as earthquakes or the emission of white steam from the crater represented as an eruption. I hope you (the Consuls) will clarify the news to the citizens of your respective countries,” said Pastika.

Continuing his guidance to the Consuls, Governor Pastika said: “The high ‘awas’ alert status for Mount Agung only applies to a radius of 8 km from Mount Agung. Meanwhile, other area in Bali are outside the danger zone and remain safe and outside any direct impact from a possible eruption.”

Moreover, insisted the Governor, in the Regency of Karangasem (where Mount Agung is located) 52 of a total of 78 villages have been declared “safe” meaning there are tourist objects even in Karangasem that remain safe to visit. Adding: “It’s news like this that I think needs to be shared with the entire world in order that tourists will feel secure in coming to Bali.”

Governor Prepared to Set Up His Office at the Airport

The Governor said that should Bali’s Airport once again be temporarily closed due to volcanic ash over the Island’s airspace, it should be remembered that Ngurah Rai Airport only closed for 2.5 days during an entire three-month period when Mount Agung has been on the highest alert status.

What’s more, should Bali’s airport be closed again, Governor Pastika said he would set up his office at Ngurah Rai Airport to ensure any disruptions resulting are handled efficiently. “All agencies need to run smoothly - including transportation, hotels, visas, and immigration. I have also asked all the consulates to set up temporary offices at the airport (in the event of a closure) in order to facilitate communication with their citizens. If our language is imprecise, people are panicking, or some are angry we can all do our best to make them happy,” said the Governor.

The Governor said that if the Airport in Bali were again temporarily closed, transportation for tourists to the nearest airport outside of Bali would be provided at the Government’s expense.



Purchasing the Right-of-Way on the Highway
Landowners on Jalan Bypass Ngurah Rai at KFC-Pizza Hut Intersection in Jimbaran, Bali Reject Compensation Offered for Land Needed to Widen Highway

Efforts to widen the north-south highway connecting Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport and Nusa Dua are being place in jeopardy due to the refusal of local property owners to sell the portion of their land needed for the enlarged road.

As reported by NusaBali, the government has offered the price of Rp. 1 billion per are for the 90 square meters needed for the road project (0.9 are). Meanwhile, the owners of several packages of land needed for the project are unified in seeking Rp. 2 billion per are - the amount paid for land acquired by the government to build the Dewa Ruci Underpass Project.

Wayan Sutama, one of the owners of the land, claims he is being unreasonably pressured to sell his land due to the failure of the Government’s appraisal team to meet with him to discuss the purchase price. Sutama complains that the appraisal team simply arrived one day to hand him a letter asking him to agree to the Rp. 1 billion per are price.

That letter set a deadline of December 25, 2017, for the acceptance of the offer. Sutama, together with other owners of the land located at the KFC and Pizza Hut intersection, have refused to sign the agreement, seeking the same price paid for the land acquired for road building at the Dewa Ruci Monument.

Sutama said: “For the time being, we await a decision from the Government. We want the (higher) price to be accommodated. Why should we be paid differently? The Appraisal Team set the price in a unilateral manner without consulting us. We were never invited to negotiate. We were just handed a letter to sign. We feel we are being pressured.”

Sutama said his parcel of land sought by the project measures only 90 square meters (less than 1 are). The land needed from all landowners measures 6 are. Part of the land has been lease by the Pizza Hut Restaurant meaning the owner must also negotiate compensation to the Restaurant that has already leased the land now eyed for the road-widening project.

Sutama said the landowners want to meet with the Assistant Regent of Badung in order that he can mediate the matter. The landowners warn that if the price they are seeking cannot be paid, they are prepared to see the matter settled before the Courts.

The planned widening of the Bypass at the KFC – Pizza Hut intersection will only involve the north-south land, widening the road by 2-meters to facilitate traffic flow.

Pieces of land owned by 8 private individuals measuring 4.9 are is needed for the project’s completion.

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Gas Consumption Dips in Bali
Fuel Consumption in Bali Down 20% Due to Mount Agung Business Slowdown

The State Oil Company Pertamina says the continuing eruption of the Mount Agung volcano has caused a decline in the consumption of fuel (BBM) .

As reported by Balipost.com, a Pertamina official for Bali said the downturn in fuel consumption was experienced in both the months of October and November.

The downturn is put at 20% as compared to normal levels of consumption. The biggest decline in consumption has taken place in areas nearest Mount Agung, such as Karangasem Regency, where a significant business slowdown has occurred.

At the same time, Pertamina assures that sufficient supplies of fuel are in hand to meet demand over the coming Christmas and New Year period.

Fuel consumption in Bali averages on a daily basis as follows:
  • 579 kiloliters of Premium
  • 1,163 kiloliters of Pertalite
  • 846 kiloliters of Pertamax
  • 526 kiloliters of Solar
  • 51 kiloliters of Dex Series
In anticipation of an increase in holiday traffic over Christmas and New Years, Pertamina lays in an addition 10% in stockpile of fuel.


Americans in Bali at No Threat from Mount Agung Volcano
U.S. State Department Security Personnel Discuss Safety for U.S. Citizens at Baliís Police Headquarters

Regional Security Officers from the U.S. Consulate in Surabaya - Brendan Murray, Victor K. Karabin, and Robert Nalle paid a call on Bali’s Provincial Police Headquarters on Friday, December 12, 2017, to review security concerns touching on American citizens living or visiting Bali.

During the visit, the Deputy Chief of Police for Bali, Brigadier General I. Gede Alit Widana, told the visiting American officials that Bali remains safe for international visitors.

Widana told the American officials that the continuing volcanic activity on Mount Agung does not have any basic impact on the general security of the Island. Meanwhile the alert level for Mount Agung remains at the highest level necessitating the displacement of people living within an 8-kilometre radius of the mountain. However, life for those living outside the exclusion zone continues as usual.

Brigadier General Widana emphasised that the world community should have no safety concerns when visiting the remaining 98% of the Island’s landmass outside the exclusion zone, accepting at the same time that Bali’s airport could be closed temporarily if volcanic ash was found in the air traffic corridors leading to and from Bali.

Widana explained that In late November, Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport was closed for 2.5 days until volcanic ash cleared out of Bali’s air space. Adding: “I hope that tourists from America and other countries will not be frightened to visit Bali. Please enjoy a holiday over Christmas and New Years.”

Murray explained to the Bali Police that the responsibility of the U.S. Regional Security Office is to provide security to U.S. citizens living or traveling abroad. Murray estimated that some 3,000 American live on the Island of Bali with another 6,000 tourist visitors in Bali at any given time.

Brendan Murray, speaking in Indonesian, issued thanks on behalf of the U.S. Government to the Bali Police for the continuing help and assistance extended to our citizens while they are on the Island. 


From Ashes to Taxes
Bali Accommodation Owners Seek Tax Relief and Delayin Minimum Wage Hikes Until Mount Agung Volcanic Activity Subsides

Accommodation operators in the Regency of Badung in Bali are calling on the government for a reduction in the Hotel and Restaurant Tax (PHR) during the current downturn in business cause by the volcanic activity of Mount Agung.

As reported by Balipost.com, the request for a PHR tax break is prompted by the historically low occupancy rates following the eruption of the Mount Agung volcano.

In addition to asking for tax relief, the accommodation providers have also requested that any plans to increase the minimum wage levels in the Badung Regency be postponed until the current crisis resolves.

Among those calling for a tax reprieve was the secretary of the Bali Villa Association, Yoga Iswara, who said on Thursday, December 14, 2017, “Because the situation of tourism is in the current state, businesses need lower taxes from the government

Iswara defended the request for a tax cut claiming hotels were often giving free service to people stranded during the airport closure. He also joined the chorus of accommodation owners imploring that the government delay any increase in the minimum wage level for the Regency of Badung for 2018.

Later, Ramia Adnyana of the Indonesian Hotel General Manager Association (IHGMA) echoed the call for a reduced tax burden until the business climate returns to normal. Adnyana said, reduce the tax from 10% to 7% or something, anything will help.”

The chairman of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association in Bali (PHRI-Bali), IGN Rai Surya Wijaya said that hotel occupancies continue to plummet due to the continuing volcanic activity on Mount Agung. Wijaya said that Bali is approaching high season with occupancies running at only around 20%. He said his organisations’ members were now doing all in their power to return occupancy to normal levels.

On a governmental level, negotiations are underway with airlines flying to Bali and foreign governments are being asked that travel alerts for Bali adopt a more moderate tone. At the same time, the provincial government of Bali has put in plans to reduce inconvenience to travellers should they be momentarily stranded due to airport closer.


Anggun Sasmi: Making Bali Center Stage
Indonesian Singing Sensation Anggun C. Sasmi Boldly Stands with Bali

Internationally renowned singer, composer, and music producer Anggun Cipta Sasmi has boldly stood up for Bali by promoting the Island’s tourism industry during an international tour to promote her latest album of music.

Recognizing that the Island’s economy is currently suffering following the eruption of the Mount Agung Volcano, the Paris-based and Indonesian-born singer urged her fans to undertake a holiday in Bali.

Quoted by the State News Agency Antara, Anggun has taken to the Social Media to proclaim tourism in Bali has been unnecessarily struck down by a "majority" of people who have the tendency to expound on something they do not understand based only on media reports.

Anggun, who is a student of Balinese dance, has also posted pictures of Bali on her Instagram page. Pictures posted showed how the geography of Bali and the threat posed by Mount Agung are being grossly overstated in the minds of the public who simply do not understand that only 2% of the Island’s landmass is under threat from any possible eruption.


Waiters on the Water
Bali Stages a Waitersí Fun Run on Kuta Beach

The Bali branch of Indonesian Food and Beverage Executive’s Association (IFBEC-Bali) held a Waiters’ Fun Run on Saturday, December 16, 2017, on Kuta Beach.

As reported by Balipost.com, some 1,000 traditionally dressed waiters carrying trays of water joined the fun run along the sandy beach.

The winner was declared as the waiter who made it first to the finish line without spilling the glass of water carried on his tray.

In addition to providing some much needed comic relief for both the runners and the race spectators, the fun run also demonstrated that Bali remains a safe and very fun place to visit.


Expect No Warning
Indonesiaís Early Warning Tsunami Buoys Network Donít Work

One of the undesired outcomes from the 6.9 Richter earthquake that struck off West Java in Indonesia just before midnight on Friday, December 15, 2017, was the discovery that 22 early warning tsunami buoys deployed across the archipelago don’t work.

Put in place after the cataclysmic earthquake and tsunami on Boxing Day 2004 that killed an estimated 250,000 people across South and Southeast Asia, the early warning system was funded by the Governments of Germany, Malaysia and the USA.

The buoys, according to Kompas.com, without exception have fallen into disrepair and no longer work. Observers claim the buoys are not being property mainained and used by fishermen as achoring buoys for their boats.

Even more embarrassing to the Indonesian government, the spokesman for the National Disaster Mitigation (BNPB), Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, revealed that the 22 buoys that form the front line of a Tsunami Early Warning Systems have been non-operational since 2012.

Speaking at a press conference in Jakarta, Sutopo said that working buoys would enable Indonesian climatologists and forecasters to advise the public of the threat of an approaching tsunami.

Apparently the tsunami warning issued after the earthquake on Friday, December 15, 2017, was done manually by forecasters and based entirely on forecast modeling without the aid of readouts from the buoys.

Similarly, the tsunami warning was withdrawn by forecasters two hours after it was issued when it was deemed the threat had passed.

Sating the obvious, Sutopo said: “In the future, we need to rebuild the buoy warning system because the people of Indonesia are at great risk of tsunamis.

Related Article

False Sense of Security Buoyed by Broken Buoys


Stay Calm. Keep Calm. Itís Only a Volcano.
Editorial: Please Stop Talking About the Evacuation of Bali

It was Franklin D. Roosevelt who spoke the famous axiom: “We have nothing to fear, but fear itself.”

That bon mot applies equally today in Bali – an Island that is suffering a crippling downturn in arrivals for no other reason that people are frightened.

Frightened of what?

It as though these irrational fears are fueled by the cataclysmic imagery of the Hollywood blockbuster “Dante’s Peak” (1997) that saw Pierce Brosnan and Linda Hamilton narrowly escaping a volcanic eruption hell bent on destroying the fictional burgh of Dante’s Peak in an unrelenting hail and brimstone.

Nice film. But, horrible volcanology.

Closer to home in Bali, the 3,000-meter high Mount Agung showed signs of reawakening in September 2017 after a “nap” of more than 50 years. Some of the world’s best volcano experts were immediately on top of these developments raising the alert status to the highest level of “4” before a magmatic eruption in late November ejected volcanic dust into Bali’s airspace and caused a 2.5-day closure of Bali’s Ngurah Rai Airport.

Those same experts - using data, continuing scientific monitoring, experience drawn from the past history of Mount Agung, and knowledge derived from Indonesia’s unequalled inventory of active volcanoes have run every imagineable scenario for Bali’s largest volcano, including a major eruption equal or greater than its last major eruption in 1963-1964.

The resulting modeling has allowed scientist to produce a fairly exact exclusion zone measured roughly within an 8.5 km radius from Mount Agung’s peak. That exclusion zone considered to be at direct risk from a major eruption, populated primarily by Balinese agriculturalist, has been evacuated and its residents moved to temporary camps outside the exclusion zone.

While admittedly  there was significant loss of life in the 1963 eruption of Mount Agung, that same eruption, were it to occur today, would result in nil loss of life providing the parameters of the exclusion zone are honored. In all, the area of Bali under direct threat from an eruptionrepresents some 2% of the Island’s landmass and is far removed from main tourist zones.

Been there. Done that.


Sorry to disappoint thrill seekers, but tourists visiting Bali are at no risk of a starring role in a remake of Dante’s Peak.

Those of us who spend our daily lives on the Island keep track of Mount Agung via the Internet and news media with no one expecting rivers of hot lava or floods of cold lahar to start flowing through the streets of Ubud, Denpasar, Nusa Dua, Kuta, Lovina, or Tabanan. The active volcano is not uppermost in the minds of those of us living in Bali.

A much more valid concern is the threat of volcanic ash distrubing the flight paths of airplanes traveling to and from Bali. Sophisticated machinery and expert monitor and track every puff of smoke emanating from the volcano and where the prevailing winds will carry them. When deemed a danger to aviation, the Bali airport will be closed.

An eruption in late November produced sufficient dust in the upper atmosphere over Bali that a decision was made to close Bali’s airport for 2.5 days.

And while flights were cancelled and diverted as the result of that closure, there was no “evacuation” of the Island ordered. Visitors under time pressures and unable to wait for the airport’s reopening, were provided air-conditioned transport by private cars, bus or train to Surabaya’s Juanda International Airport in East Java. Others, simply waited out Mother Nature's will and relaxed at hotel, took an Island tour or visited one of Bali’s many attractions.

In fact, it’s high time everyone stops talking about “evacuation plans.” There isn’t one. The vast majority of those who live on the Island of Bali do not live in abject fear of Mount Agung and have no plans to be leaving the island.

The only “evacuation plan” underway has been completed and involved the relocation of people living within the exclusion zone around the base of the Mount Agung volcano. None of the worst-case scenarios even suggest the people living in the remaining 98% of Bali are at any direct threat from an eruption.

The plan for people to travel by road to Java in the event of a temporary closure of Bali’s airport is NOT an evacuation plan, but simply an alternate means of leaving Bali by land and sea for those unwilling or unable to wait in the event of an airport closure.

So let’s stop talking about “evacuations.” The use of that word fuels non-realistic Hollywood brain imagery of people rushing to safety in an island being consumed in fire and brimstone.

Bali: you’re free to come and free to leave.

If a flight is not available and you really need to leave - do so by road.

Otherwise, grab a seat nearby at the hotel's pool and pass us another bottle of cold Bintang.

Related Editorial

Keep Calm. It’s Only a Volcano


 
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Bali Update #662
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Bali Update #661
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Bali Update #660
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Bali Update #659
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Bali Update #658
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Bali Update #657
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Bali Update #656
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Bali Update #655
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Bali Update #654
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Bali Update #653
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Bali Update #652
March 07, 2009

Bali Update #651
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Bali Update #650
February 21, 2009

Bali Update #649
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Bali Update #648
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Bali Update #647
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Bali Update #646
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Bali Update #645
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Bali Update #644
January 10, 2009

Bali Update #643
January 05, 2009

Bali Update #642
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Bali Update #641
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Bali Update #640
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Bali Update #639
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Bali Update #639
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Bali Update #638
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Bali Update #637
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Bali Update #636
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Bali Update #635
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Bali Update #634
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Bali Update #633
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Bali Update #632
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Bali Update #631
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Bali Update #630
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Bali Update #629
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Bali Update #628
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Bali Update #627
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Bali Update #626
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Bali Update #625
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Bali Update #624
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Bali Update #623
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Bali Update #622
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Bali Update #621
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Bali Update #620
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Bali Update #619
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Bali Update #618
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Bali Update #617
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Bali Update #616
June 30, 2008

Bali Update #615
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Bali Update #614
June 16, 2008

Bali Update #613
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Bali Update #612
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Bali Update #611
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Bali Update #610
May 19, 2008

Bali Update #609
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Bali Update #608
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Bali Update #607
April 28, 2008

Bali Update #606
April 21, 2008

Bali Update #605
April 14, 2008

Bali Update #604
April 07, 2008

Bali Update #603
March 31, 2008

Bali Update #602
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Bali Update #601
March 10, 2008

Bali Update #600
March 10, 2008

Bali Update #599
March 03, 2008

Bali Update #598
February 25, 2008

Bali Update #597
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Bali Update #596
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Bali Update #595
February 04, 2008

Bali Update #594
January 28, 2008

Bali Update #593
January 21, 2008

Bali Update #592
January 14, 2008

Bali Update #591
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Bali Update #590
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Bali Update #589
December 24, 2007

Bali Update #588
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Bali Update #587
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Bali Update #586
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Bali Update #585
November 26, 2007

Bali Update #584
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Bali Update #583
November 12, 2007

Bali Update #582
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Bali Update #581
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Bali Update #580
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Bali Update #579
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Bali Update #578
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Bali Update #577
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Bali Update #576
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Bali Update #575
September 17, 2007

Bali Update #574
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Bali Update #573
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Bali Update #572
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Bali Update #571
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Bali Update #570
August 13, 2007

Bali Update #569
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Bali Update #568
July 30, 2007

Bali Update #567
July 23, 2007

Bali Update #566
July 16, 2007

Bali Update #565
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Bali Update #564
July 02, 2007

Bali Update #563
June 25, 2007

Bali Update #562
June 18, 2007

Bali Update #561
June 11, 2007

Bali Update #560
June 04, 2007

Bali Update #559
May 28, 2007

Bali Update #558
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Bali Update #557
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Bali Update #556
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Bali Update #555
April 30, 2007

Bali Update #554
April 23, 2007

Bali Update #553
April 16, 2007

Bali Update #552
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Bali Update #551
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Bali Update #550
March 26, 2007

Bali Update #549
March 19, 2007

Bali Update #548
March 12, 2007

Bali Update #547
March 05, 2007

Bali Update #546
February 26, 2007

Bali Update #545
February 19, 2007

Bali Update #544
February 12, 2007

Bali Update #543
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Bali Update #542
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Bali Update #541
January 22, 2007

Bali Update #540
January 15, 2007

Bali Update #539
January 08, 2007

Bali Update #538
January 01, 2007

Bali Update #537
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Bali Update #536
December 18, 2006

Bali Update #535
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Bali Update #534
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Bali Update #533
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Bali Update #532
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Bali Update #531
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Bali Update #530
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Bali Update #529
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Bali Update #528
October 23, 2006

Bali Update #527
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Bali Update #526
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Bali Update #525
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Bali Update #524
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Bali Update #523
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Bali Update #522
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Bali Update #521
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Bali Update #520
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Bali Update #519
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Bali Update #518
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Bali Update #517
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Bali Update #516
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Bali Update #515
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Bali Update #514
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Bali Update #513
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Bali Update #512
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Bali Update #511
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Bali Update #510
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Bali Update #509
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Bali Update #508
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Bali Update #507
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Bali Update #506
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Bali Update #505
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Bali Update #501
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