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Welcome to InBali’s fortnightly account of life on the Island of the Gods – from the mouths, the keyboards and the lenses of those who love it the most.

Sometimes there are events we’d rather not recap. This week, the horrifying news of 6 people executed by firing squad in Central Java and the decided fate of two Australian inmates on death-row with their bid for clemency rejected. Talk on the island of this bitter reality has been sad and sobering. InBali commits to delivering the full island recap – the good and the bad, however it occurs. Amongst the tragedy, a few giggles to lift the spirits.

If there’s one thing we can be sure of in Bali, it’s the magnitude of inspiration; be it from simple sunsets, through to the incredible people who call this place home (with a special mention to this week’s feature expat Tah Riq Amawi – WOW!). InBali wishes our readers peace in times of despair and grounding in times of chaos. May we all stop to appreciate the boundless beauty of the Island and take pleasure in our small blessings.

Hope fades for Bali nine members seeking clemency

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran

We waited with bated breath, only to be met with news of tragedy. Global new reports finally advising that Indonesian president Jokowi had rejected Bali nine member Myuran Sukumaran’s bid for clemency.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on January 7, a letter rejecting the clemency bid of the Bali nine member was hand-delivered to Kerobokan Prison by an Indonesian government official during the first few days of 2015.

The letter, dated December 30, 2014, was printed on the letterhead of “President Republik Indonesia” and has Joko Widodo‘s name printed underneath.

The text declares there is “not enough reason” for the clemency bid to be granted, and makes clear that, “the decision is in effect on the day it is decided.”

It is widely thought that President Widodo is driven by issues involving corruption, democracy and making life easier for small businesses, but human rights was not a strong point for him.

Professor Tim Lindsey, from Melbourne University’s Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, was reported as saying; “we must understand that death sentence for drugs has wide support in Indonesia, because rightly or wrongly, they consider it akin to mass murder.”

President Joko Widodo echoed this sentiment in a post to his Facebook page: “A healthy Indonesia is an Indonesia without drugs.”

As reported by News.com.au on January 11, Myuran’s mother Raji Sukumaran has been left distraught and by the most recent news and is haunted every day by thoughts of executions, which are conducted by firing squad in Indonesia.

“It terrifies me … when is he going to be isolated, will I get to see him, will I get to hug him,” she says in desperation.

She has been quoted as saying, “I wish they would kill me first, he doesn’t deserve to die. He did something really foolish 10 years ago and he apologised … he is trying to rehabilitate a lot of people there and he is really really sorry for what he has done,”

Meanwhile Andrew Chan, Myuran’s fellow Bali nine mastermind, remained awaiting a response to his clemency appeals, until news broke on January 22nd that he too was rejected. As reported by Yahoo 7 News, The Australian will now join up to 64 death row drug offenders who may be sent to the firing squad in line with Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s tough line on drug trafficking.

The fate of the pair is a human rights case that has now caught the attention of Amnesty International, who stand against the decision on their site stating:

“Every day, all over the world, prisoners – men, women and even children – face execution. The death penalty is cruel, inhuman and degrading. We are opposed to its use, everywhere in the world, for whatever reason – it is never acceptable, ever.”

A high profile public appeal has been rallying support for the two inmates with the backing of Amnesty International, via the Mercy Campaign website. They call for action, urging the public to sign their petition in an effort to halt executions.

Australian celebrities have joined in the Mercy Campaign via the publication of this emotional charged video, urging the public to follow their plight and attempt to make a difference.

The Prime Minister of Australia has also joined in the efforts, sending two letters to President Widodo appealing for clemency. Mr Tony Abbott’s office has declined to make either of the letters public.

Regardless of pressure from foreign government bodies, and the aforementioned public Amnesty campaigns, president Jokowi remains firm on his stance.

As recently reported by News.com.au on January 20, the new Indonesian President has reactivated executions as a way to stamp his authority and would struggle to find any reason to spare the two Australians, especially after the execution of five foreign nationals by firing squad on January 17, after they were convicted on drug charges.

They were the first executions carried out since President Widodo took office in October and they took place despite all international appeals.

The families of both Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran have flown to Bali to be present during their darkest hours.

Australian’s warned not to travel to Bali

Australians in Bali

On 3 January 2015, the US Government warned of a potential threat against US-associated hotels and banks in Surabaya, Indonesia. With the Australian Government on high alert, they responded to the threat with the release of a very stern warning to travellers considering a trip to Indonesia, including the popular tourist destination of Bali.

Published on Monday the 5th of January 2015 via the Australian Government’s Smart Traveller website, this advice contains new information for travellers, urging them to consider their safety and security. The travel status for Indonesia (including Bali) has now been raised to “Exercise a high degree of caution”.

As reported by ABC news on January 7, Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said terrorism was treated as the highest of national security issues and Australia was monitoring the developing security threat in Indonesia “very closely”.

Also included in the new information is a warning that Indonesian immigration officials may deny entry to visitors who have a criminal record.

Sky Gardens staff cause alarm during discoteque peak hour

SkyGardens Bali

Employees of the popular tourist hot-spot in KutaSky Gardens, startled patrons on January 19th when they staged a stop-work strike during the nightclub’s evening peak hour. Positioned eerily close to the site of the 2002 Bali Bombings, the stop-work strike caused many visitors panic as the establishment began to empty and dozens of staff left work to gather outside on the pavement in protest.

As reported by Merdeka.com on January 20, one employee during the strike yelled (translated) “We do this because we demand justice. This place is more concerned with foreign tourists as workers than local workers.”

We can safely assume that this outcry has a link to the recent alleged discovery of a number of undocumented foreigners employed in management positions at Sky Gardens, violating Indonesian labor law.

A Solidarity Forum has now been formed by several Sky Gardens employees. As reported by Bali Discovery on January 11, the group of workers visited the Badung Social and Manpower Office on Monday January 5th, 2015 as part of an ongoing complaint about foreigners in Sky Gardens’ management. According to the group, management have acted in an arbitrary manner involving physical assault, summarily dismissals, wage entitlement cuts and unpaid severance to terminated workers.

The Forum is enquiring about the extensive use of foreign workers originating from Australia, Canada and America; an apparent total of 45 people, filling almost every possible management position at the venue.

In response, Erna Pingkan, a management representative of the company, said only 7 foreigners were employed by PT ESC Urban Food Station, all of which are already fully documented. An additional 10 foreigners are in the process of documentation. This means only 17 foreigners are employed at Sky Gardens, far less than the accused 45.

The head of the Badung Manpower office, Ida Bagus Dirga, reminded foreigners working in Bali that they must all hold complete immigration and manpower documentation before assuming any position.

For those seeking further information, see our article on Getting a Bali Visa.

New language requirements for Indonesian working Visa

Language requirements for visa in Indonesia

It was the debate to end all Bali Expat debates. News broke in the first week of January 2015 of the Indonesian Government‘s plans to introduce a regulation that will require foreigners to master the Indonesian language before they are able to obtain an Indonesian work permit.

As reported by The Independant on January 14, Manpower Minister M. Hanif Dhakiri revealed that soon foreign workers would have to complete the Test of Indonesian as a Foreign Language, which is currently being developed by the ministry along with the University of Indonesia’s Language Development Center.

The exam will be part of a new set of requirements that will determine the eligibility of a foreigner to work in the archipelago. It is included in the ongoing revision of a 2013 Manpower Ministry regulation.

“We hope that the revision can be complete in February so we can immediately implement the Indonesian language skill test for foreign workers who wish to work in Indonesia,” Hanif was quoted as saying by state-run Antara news agency.

He added the government would tighten regulations concerning expat workers in Indonesia and ensure their enforcement in order to protect the local workforce from an influx of foreign newcomers seeking their share of jobs in Southeast Asia’s largest economy.

Almost immediately after the news broke, social media platforms exploded with mixed opinions on the proposed changes. Many applauded the announcement of the draft regulation, citing the need to learn the local language as being imperative to understanding the culture and way of life for those locals you are likely to become acquainted with during your work tenure in Indonesia.

Meanwhile, many others jumped on the defensive, stating that they were (and we quote) “people who work high pressure jobs and often move countries for their company,” going on to say that we “cannot expect them all to learn the language when they may only be here a short while”. One social commentator claimed that he believed it to be no more than “one more tool for those (few) corrupted immigration officers to ask for bribes to give an OK in the immigration documents.” And feathers really started to ruffle when one Bali Expat told of  how they “witnessed a westerner in Hypermart throw a tantrum because the assistant couldn’t understand him and he had sent a can of corn flying.” Grab some popcorn, this is going to be a good one!

Whatever your position on the proposed changes, one thing is for sure; Learning to speak Bahasa Indonesia will most certainly enrich your experience as you settle in Bali, be it for a 30 day stint, or a 30 year settlement. Even learning the basics makes day-to-day tasks such as shopping or asking for directions so much easier. Stay tuned for InBali’s Guide to Learning Bahasa Indonesia, ready to drop in the coming weeks.

Bad weather forces cancellation of Gili Fast Boats

fast boats to gili

The Bali wet season has brought with it one very disrupted departure schedule for the fast boat services to the Gili Islands.

The Indonesian Government/Harbor Master declared three days (the 10th, 11th and 21st of January) during which ALL fast boats were stopped from running services between Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands.

We wonder if the boat closures caused any real life pirating? It would seem pretty fitting given the new Le Pirate Gili T Resort opened its doors on January 14th (hiphiphooray!)

Bling Bling! Here’s a new thing..

Rickety boat pirating and rocky ocean crossing not really your idea of a good time? Well you’ll be pleased to learn that a range of the Palau Groups’ luxury charter vessels have graced Bali’s shores, with their new feature video dropping this month to give us a glance into the high life now available to all.

Their impressive fleet of luxury boats are available for exclusive charter from their private moorings in Nusa Penida and Nusa Lembongan. A great way to escape the mainland to beautiful clean waters and abundant marine life for a day.

Jilted wife sells ex-husbands half of Bali trip on Ebay

ebay

Been dreaming of your upcoming island getaway to Bali? With crystal waters, white crescent beaches and your hunky husband by your side? Only for the daydream to come crashing down into a million devastating pieces when said hunky husband dumps you via a note left next to your bed [flashback to “Sex and the City” The Post-it Always Sticks Twice episode]?

Such is the scenario for one witty now EX-wife, who made good on an otherwise icky, saddening situation by selling her husband’s half of a surprise trip to Bali she had planned for February 2015.

Listing the holiday on Ebay as “Husband walked out, Now its my shout!“, 24 year old Sarah Jane requests bids from punters wishing to accompany a complete stranger on a trip to Bali. She includes flights, accommodation, and promises of many, MANY pub crawls. How romantic!

rhonda

The novel half-a-holiday ended up fetching a winning bid of $20,100 – which we bet leaves plenty of spare change for this crafty babe to splurge on luxury yachts and the like. Perhaps even the services of a personal pool boy to be at her beck and call..”you look hot today Sarah-Jane.. hot like a sunrise!”

Bali Break Up Retreat

Been going through a rough time? Husband dumped you via post-it note? If Ebay isn’t providing you the therapy you seek, perhaps you need a night at the Bali Break Up Retreat…an entirely fictional getaway marketed by Quick & Dirty Productions.

These humorous folks have designed a package for those of us who are looking to detox that nasty ex from our system (Giggle).

For those of you genuinely going through a tough time, check out our breakdown of the Types of Retreats that are (actually) available in Bali. You’re welcome.

Cocoon Medical Spa Adds “Designer Vagina” treatment to their menu for 2015

vagina

In the market for a cleansing/regeneration of the…ermm…intimate kind? The popular Cocoon Medical Spa in Bali has added a controversial “Designer Vagina” Fermilift treatment to their spa menu for the New Year. The treatment promises the complete “remodelling of tissues”, in addition to a re-establishment of a firm “young like” vagina embedded with thick and long collagen fibres.

This is certainly an upgrade from the traditional Balinese “fogging” treatment called Ratus (popular amongst locals for pre-wedding treatment), and has surely given the divas of Bali something to chat about over their Ramubtan martinis. Oh me, oh my!

More details via the Cocoon Medical Spa Facebook page.

Thank you for “Fisiting” Bali

fisiting

Just when we thought things couldn’t get much cheekier here in Bali, one of InBali’s favourite bloggers WowShack dropped a compilation of some of the funniest and naughtiest misspelt Indo signs – NAKAL!!

Superhero Factory coming soon to Bali- the most epic workout you’ll have in your life

fitness in bali

It’s the modern day man’s very own version of an Eat Pray Love journey. For some (such as our InBali contributor, Oliver Green) it will manifest as an assumed psychotic episode, which involves blazing through a corporate workspace pretending to shoot people with an invisible gun, sucking a helium balloon and laughing like a crazed Santa Claus.

For others – namely Tah Riq Amawi – it will present as a monumental decision to quit the 9-5 grind and take a nonfatal jump from a rooftop. Either way, it’s the same metamorphosis from what we “should” be doing, to our truth. Risking the safety of our paycheque and existence on a robotic weekly rotation by “throwing in the towel” or taking a “leap of faith”.

It seems to be a recurrent theme in Bali. In a previous Island Recap we documented the journey of Mark Tulloch, author of blog Bi-Polar Bloke. After deciding that the confines of life in London weren’t conducive to his treatment plan, he packed up the life that he knew in the UK  and found solace upon the sands of Bali’s beaches.

In this week’s edition, we meet with Tah Riq Amawi, who will soon be launching a Superhero Factory in Bali, inspired by his personal journey; “taking a leap from desktop to rooftop”.

Tah Riq discovered parkour through the video game assassins creed. At the time, he was working in sales for PC World in the UK. After practicing for a while he began to accomplish things he previously thought impossible. He learned that if you anchor the change you wish to create through real challenges, you can have lasting change. More simply, you can overcome mental blocks through overcoming physical blocks.

Life upside down? Learn how to do a flip and land back on your feet. One is an analogy for the other.

Quit a job? Leap of faith. Jump off something. Starting a business? Uphill battle. Climb a mountain. Life upside down? Learn how to do a flip and land back on your feet. One is an analogy for the other.

You learn how to dissolve one challenge by overcoming one symbolic of it.

Tah Riq Amawi has been testing these theories on himself for a few years, and has completely turned his life around. And now he is bringing this experience to us through the conception of his new training centre, the “Superhero Factory“. Presently under construction, it will be located not far from the Hammerhead Gym and Jenja in the Kuta region.

It will be an alternative gym for young and old, for corporate retreats, and for physical education. A community will be built on the foundation of supporting one another in cooperative play and fostering growth, as individuals conquer mental fears and overcome physical barriers. Although one of the benefits of participation will be a stronger physique, this will be no ordinary gym. The space itself resembles a playground, with a rock climbing wall, trampoline flooring, vaulting boxes, inflatable obstacles and a jungle gym of scaffolding bars.

The feature will be the 4 metre “leap of faith” from the life you once knew, into the foam fit below.

We wonder if memberships will have a life-changing guarantee?

Pssst! You heard it here first: Concept Cocktail Bar “The Door” will ‘Break on Through’ any day now

door

To the Bali cafe scene, this one will be bigger than the introduction of Mason Jars. The prohibition-style “hole in the wall” bar we have all been thirstily dreaming of. Think non-matching vintage glassware, random retro furniture, moose heads, dim lighting and a 50 head capacity setting to ensure cosy cocktail-infused chats.

In true prohibition era style, this one has been under wraps for a while, but they are finally revealing some of their delectable details. We hear of bespoke cocktails with semi molecular twists (SPOILER ALERT: The ‘Mary Pickford’ – 10 Cane rum, pineapple granita, dragonfruit & cherry liqueur, secret fizz’), and a “free snack with cocktail purchase” menu on fortnightly rotation. (Hint: ‘tarragon infused salted caramel popcorn’, ‘Courvoisier soaked prunes wrapped with iberico jamon’). DROOL.

We don’t want to give too much away, but amongst other surprises will be a vinyl record player for patrons to select 50’s – 80’s rock, psych, blues, jazz, soul and early hip hop for queue. It will be open 4pm – 12pm, with weekends being extendable to 2am (or until police raid, right?).

Where will this be you ask? Why, it’s a speakeasy…we can’t tell! Follow The Door’s Facebook page for more details.

Party Of the Week: Luxury Events Bali launches at Tabanan’s new “HollyWood Hills” style party palace

Luxury Events Bali

A whole heap of class and extravagance has dropped in on the Bali social scene, with the launch of Luxury Events Bali coinciding with the grand opening of a one-of-a-kind party mansion tucked away deep into the Tabanan rice fields, in a secret James Bond-esque cliff edge location.

Villa Hati Indah has taken 7 years to build, due mostly to the fact that its owner/designer Bob dreamt it up as being quite literally built into a Tabanan rice fields’ cliff edge.

The mansion itself is all-inclusive, offering guests a 24-hour private pizza restaurant, an exclusive in-villa spa/salon, a movie theatre, and choice of multiple pool areas for endless sun-baking. With 5 private bedroom suites, it comfortably sleeps 10 guests. One bedroom encompasses a private gym and indoor pool, and the master suite boasts an automated skyroof, ready to open for late night star gazing (or daytime sun-baking from bed!).

Every inch of this party palace has been thoughtfully designed, with almost every room unveiling a special design feature. We won’t give too much away, because for a limited time guests can enjoy this Hollywood Hills style villa for only $500USD per night! This is not a misprint. See villa website to book.

InBali got the scoop on this incredible villa when we attended the launch party for Luxury Events Bali over the January 10/11 weekend. Luxury Events Bali have established themselves as the go-to for lavish Bali parties, be it a wedding, birthday, or a romantic degustation for that special someone in your life. There was a tasting menu of whole grilled lobster with burnt lemon, Angus Beef papardelle ragu and decadent chocolate mousse with drunken hazelnuts – we melt.

What Happened this week on InBali

The newbies guide to surfing in Bali

Blessed with 365 days of swell, damn good weather and pristine warm water temps, the island of the Gods is a fave surf destination for travellers. With 60 plus surf spots scattered across the island, surfers and holidaymakers are spoilt for choice. But before you throw on some board shorts and hit Kuta’s gnarly waves with a longboard in tow, check out our newbies guide to surfing in Bali. It will see you “shredding” beyond the shoreline in no time…

That’s handy – How to avoid the awkward “Happy Ending” conversation

Here at InBali, we love to tell you about some of the amazing, high-end spas and retreats that cater to all of your wellbeing needs. Check out some of these great spots if you love a good pamper, damn the cost. This article, however, is aimed at a very different kind of person; the kind that likes their pampering cheap and grotty.

Thank God It’s Flemensday II. Eating on a budget

Oliver Green was once rich. He earned an oversized wage working in London advertising. He doesn’t have a job any more because he walked through the advertising agency pretending to shoot people with an invisible gun, sucking a helium balloon and laughing like a crazed Santa Claus while wearing a suit made from the skins of his recently murdered elf helpers. After he did that he was sent home to ‘rest’ for a little while/forever. Join him on his journey through how he’s been dealing with this precarious new financial situation, which he invented called ‘ignoring it’.

Luxury hotels in Ubud: 5 star and fabulously fancy

In terms of accommodation Ubud has something to fit every traveller’s needs, from budget options to 5-star luxury. Here are our top five Ubud luxury hotel picks that will leave you feeling pampered and relaxed.

Goa Gajah: Ancient shrines to gods of wisdom and sex

Goa Gajah, means “elephant cave” and was named after the very old statues of the Hindu god Ganesha. No one knows how old the site is, but it was certainly part of the Balinese empire of Bedahulu that ended in the 14th century. The Bali Agas in places like Tenganan say they were once part of this kingdom that lasted more than four centuries.If you are planning a trip to Bali and want to visit a truly ancient temple, Goa Gajah is the place for you.

Bali Time Out: W Bali presents Claptone (Exploited) WooBar

From TED events to kissing ceremonies to random hole in the wall bars and banging music festivals, Bali’s spectrum of events is eclectic to say the least. The endless tropical day parties, bar hopping between palm trees and the buzzing night life is an event unto itself. So take Time Out and catch up on your monthly dose of the best upcoming events, attractions and everything in-between on the Island of the Partying Gods…

**Feature image by Sophie Kennedy**