Kiwi killed in a bar fight in Kuta, Bali

bounty-disco-baliA New Zealand man was involved in an altercation in Bali over the weekend at a nightclub in Kuta Beach. The New Zealand Herald reports the man killed in the fight was Sean Headifen.

The news was reported yesterday in the newspapers here. The incident took place at the Bounty nightclub. The local newspapers reported that the foreigner threw beer or a beer glass at the foreigner, but the New Zealand Herald says it was the other way around, or at least that is what the man’s mother was told.

He was then attacked by six locals. They tried calling for an ambulance, but the ambulance demanded upfront payment of around 3 million rupiah, which the man’s girlfriend didn’t have at the time. They also didn’t have any travel insurance.

The man made it back to his hotel, but died overnight. The six attackers are being questioned by police.

Update: Found an article that says the poor guy was on his honeymoon.

This is what police spokesman Ketut Suwetra had to say:

“The victim was drunk. He had thrown a glass at a bartender who told him to exchange his beverage voucher at the cashier. The bartender hurled a glass back at him which hit his left temple,” he said.

“Two security officers who tried to break them up ended up kicking and hitting the victim too.”

The bar tender and bouncer have now been arrested and face 7-12 years in jail.

Update 2: I am not where the Courier Mail got their information from, but no other news article mentioned that the guy was on his honeymoon.

Here’s another article from a New Zealand newspaper.

Mr Petherick said the school’s guidance counsellor was keeping in direct contact with the Headifen family as his sister was a student at the school.

“I know him well, he came right through our school and I actually taught his mother.

“He was very bright, very able and an interesting young man.”

Mr Petherick remembered a lawnmowing business he started in Levin when he left school at the end of Year 12.

“You would see him go along the footpath with a lawnmower in front of him … because he didn’t have a car at that point.

“He was a go-getter … it’s a real pity what’s happened, knowing that medical treatment could have saved him.

“He will be well remembered at the school just because of the person he had been … he had a bright future ahead of him.”

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Driving trains in Indonesia

Unfortunately I couldn't really capture how packed the train was

Unfortunately I couldn't really capture how packed the train was

Well, I didn’t get to drive the train, but it was as close as I was ever going to get to driving a train. Coming back to Medan after a four day holiday in Indonesia, the buses and trains were packed. Now I have been to Japan and China so I thought that I would be fine traveling on a packed train, but Indonesians take it to a new level.

When the train pulled into the station, people ran to the doors that were already full. The people already on the train weren’t going to let anyone else on. We decided to wait for the next train in two hours time. A few minutes later after asking about the next train, a train driver who was driving just the engine back to Medan, asked if we wanted to ride with him, as long as we bought him and his staff some cigarettes.


It was better than waiting around for another two hours for a train that was more than likely going to be full too. I love trains, so it was a lot of fun riding with the driver and a couple of other passengers. Unfortunately there was only other seat, so we either had to stand for the three hour trip or sit on bits of cardboard.

The views of the countryside were much better than what you see when you go by bus. Some kids played “chicken” with the train jumping off the tracks at the last minute. My heart raced everytime as they only had to trip and it would be “bye-bye” as there is no way that locomotive would have been able to stop in time. There are also so many little crossings along the way that don’t have gates. The driver had his hand on the whistle most of the way. Fortunately, we didn’t hit anyone, but it was amazing to see how many people would try and beat the train rather than wait for a minute for the train to pass.




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Eating bat

You never know what you are going to come across walking around Indonesia. Today it was some bats being sold by the road side. My first thought was maybe for a pet, but then I remembered bat being something of a delicacy in Indonesia.

I was kind of curious as to how you cook bats, so thanks to Google, I found this recipe:

Serves 4

• 3 fruit bats, well washed but neither skinned nor eviscerated
• Water
• 1 Tb finely sliced fresh ginger
• 1 large onion, quartered
• Sea salt to taste
• Chopped scallions
• Soy sauce and/or coconut cream

1. Place bats in a large kettle and add water to cover. Add ginger, onion, and salt. Bring to boil and simmer 45 minutes. Strain broth into second kettle.

2. Take bats, skin them, discard skin. Remove meat from bones. Return meat and any viscera fancied to the broth. Heat.

3. Serve, liberally sprinkled with scallions and seasoned with soy sauce and/or coconut cream.


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Military plane crash kills 24

Yet another aviation disaster in Indonesia as a military plane crashed into a hangar at an air base in West Java.

“All the bodies found on the crashed plane have been brought here, there are 24,” said Drajat, a doctor at Salamun hospital in West Java.

“Some 18 bodies have been identified but others are cut into pieces, so it’s difficult to recognise them. A police forensic team is trying to identify them.”

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Anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook

megawati-facebookThe legislative election is just a few days away now. Aside from all of the campaign posters around town, I haven’t noticed any significant changes here. My local mall is opening two hours later on the day of the election this Thursday.

The presidential election will be held on the 8th of July. An anti-Megawati campaign on Facebook has been launched and the made the front page of some newspapers here. The Say “NO!!!” to Megawati currently has over 78,000 supporters.

The full list of Presidential candidates includes:

– Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
– Indonesian Vice president Jusuf Kalla
– Former Indonesian president Abdurrahman Wahid
– Former Indonesian president Megawati Soekarnoputri
– Former speaker of People’s Representative Council Akbar Tandjung
– Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono
– Former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso.
– Former Military of Indonesia commander Wiranto.
– Former Armed Force Strategic and Reserve Commander(Kostrad) and founder of the Gerindra Party Prabowo Subianto
– Chairwoman of Indonesian Justice and Unity Party Meutia Hatta Swasono
– Former Indonesian State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra
– Former Finance Minister Rizal Ramli
– Chairman of the Institute for the Study of Democracy and National Prosperity (Pedoman) Indonesia Fadjroel Rachman
– Chairwomen of Akar Indonesia Ratna Sarumpaet
– Former Navy Commander Admiral Slamet Soebijanto
– Dita Indah Sari Leader of the People’s Democratic Party
– Freedom Institute Executive Director Rizal Mallarangeng (withdrawn)
– People’s Consultative Assembly Chairman Hidayat Nur Wahid

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2 Canadians arrested for smoking marijuana

Two Canadian kindergarten teachers have been arrested for smoking marijuana while holidaying on the island of Lombok and are facing four years jail.

Marijuana is classed as a dangerous drug in Indonesia, on the same level as heroin.

The AP article says police followed the women for “several days” before making the arrest. What amazing police work!

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Why is Bali such a popular tourist destination in Indonesia?

bali-peopleAfter reading this editorial in the Jakarta Post I wanted to write my own article on why I think Bali is more popular than other islands in Indonesia.

The editorial tries to answer the same question, but only seems to talk about religion and the main religion of the Balinese – Hindu.

While Balinese Hindus are preparing for the observa-tion of Nyepi, hopefully it is not regarded as offensive or ridiculous to ask a tempting question: Will Bali remain as magnificent as what it is now when Hinduism is not the largest religion there? There is no intention at all to offend other religions; this question is merely a matter of curiosity.

What we want to say is that Hindus should have a central role in guiding Balinese people and that the world would benefit from such guidance. Indonesians, whatever their religion is, can learn a lot from the way and values of our comrades, while Balinese Hindus can also learn from other citizens of different religions to enrich Indonesia.

The numbers speak for themselves. In 2008 Bali had 1.97 million foreign visitors, while the whole of Indonesia had 6.4 million visitors.

I think westerners are interested in Balinese culture, but not just their religion. For many foreigners, including many Australians, a holiday in Bali means beaches and cheap beer.

I think part of Bali’s success is that is a very accessible destination and offers great value for money. If you only have a short holiday like many Japanese, it is only a six hour flight and you can be laying on the beach not long after you reach the island’s airport – Denpasar.

Sure Indonesia has many more beautiful islands and places to visit, but they take much longer to get to and the whole journey requires more effort. I heard Pulau Wei in Aceh is more beautiful than Bali and I thought of going there for Christmas last year. A friend told me how I wouldn’t be able to wear shorts when I arrived in Aceh as the area is under Shariah law.

Many parts of Indonesia have had their fair share of natural disasters. Bali had its terrorist bombings, which I believe put some people off visiting the island for a while, but tourism has been getting strong again in recent years. The trials and death sentences of the Bali bombers were widely reported around the world and it is well known that the terrorists were not Balinese. I am sure some people feel that by visiting Bali they are doing their bit to help the local economy after the attacks and not give satisfaction to the terrorists that they had somehow won by keeping people away from the island.

The culture, music, art and architecture of Bali captured the interests of several foreigners who spent some time there and wrote about their experiences. A House in Bali written by Colin McPhee in the 1930s is one such book that comes to mind.

Infrastructure in Bali is not great and the island is suffering from rampant development, but this doesn’t mean it is any better in other parts of Indonesia. Traveling on public buses with three people to a seat and more people traveling on the roof is not everyone’s vision of a holiday.

For people who do make the effort traveling outside of Bali they will be rewarded with beautiful jungle, diving, wildlife and friendly people and you can almost have it all to yourself.

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Death toll rises in Jakarta dam collapse

jakarta-dam-collapse-floodingThe death toll continues to rise in the tragic dam collapse in Jakarta, Indonesia. Seventy-seven people have died with people still missing from the accident.

Heavy rains combined with poorly maintained infrastructure are being blamed the collapsed Situ Gintung dam.

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NERD cancels Indonesian concert

I have to admit I have never heard of the band NERD or No one Ever Really Dies, before. According to the Jakarta Post the band had a problem with immigration in Malaysia, who somehow had a problem with their style of dress.

The concert organizers in Malaysia failed to get the appropriate permits for the band to perform. The band still performed the concert, but later their passports were taken by immigration and they were detained.

The band must have felt the experience distressing enough to cancel their scheduled show in Indonesia.

I had a look around on Google and the band’s blog but everything seems pretty harmless. I have been to Malaysia plenty of times now and I thought the government was pretty tolerant.


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Travel in Indonesia – always an adventure

lake-toba-ferryI am quickly finding out that travel in Indonesia is always a bit of an adventure. I decided to visit Lake Toba for the weekend to get out of Medan for a few days. The trip is about a 4 hour drive from Medan to Parapat, which you then travel by ferry to Samosir Island.

The road into Parapat is pretty good by Indonesian standards, although it can get narrow in places and there are a few tight bends. The road goes downhill as you head towards Parapat and there is a big drop down on the right side into the lake.

We came to an abrupt stop and it was soon obvious that there had been some kind of accident. We were by then about 6km out of Parapat and the driver said it would take a long time to clear the road, so it would be quicker to walk – six kilometers also didn’t sound too long and anything would be better than sitting in the bus.

It wasn’t long before we reached the site of the accident. A fairly large truck/lorry had gone off the side of the road and there were about six tow trucks trying to pull it back onto the road. I pulled out my camera and the police even gestured for me to go forward and get closer to the action. I took some great pictures, that I thought would make it onto the front page of the Jakarta Post, only to realize later that I left my memory card in my computer. Doh!

I was pretty surprised how they could finally pull the truck back onto the road. It was inches away from falling down about a 50 meter drop. The front cabin of the truck had been completely crushed and unless the driver jumped out early, I don’t think they would have stood a chance of survival.

We continued walking down the road and it got a bit hairy as cars and trucks started to pass through. Further down the road, the traffic was banked up again. There had been a mild land slide and one lane of the narrow road was covered in rocks and dirt.

I think I reached Parapat at around 3:00pm after being picked up from my place at 9:00am in the morning from Medan.

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