I’ve debated writing this blog for some time, because it’s topical, it divides opinions and could possibly attract some negative attention. I try to keep this website more cheery and full of holiday fun and stories of life as an expat. However I do write for other companies and sometimes the topics are grim, political and take me into subjects that are uncomfortable and controversial. So today, I’m going to discuss a question I get asked a lot: are you safe in Indonesia?
Initially when someone asks me this, I am confused…why wouldn’t you be safe in Indonesia? I tend to live in a little Bali bubble and only stick my head out into the awkwardness of reality when I absolutely have to. Of course you are safe in Indonesia, as much as you are safe in Australia, America, China, Scotland…..The question should probably be ‘where are we safe today?’ That’s a rhetorical question by the way because every country has its issues and has throughout time. We are just more aware of these issues now because of media (some genuine media, some fluff filled pieces of propaganda) and the power of social media.
Are you safe in Indonesia?
Safe from spending money on lovely pretties that you probably don’t need? Nope so lock up your wallet.
Safe from having one too many cocktails on a sunny afternoon? Not a chance. Stay away from all restaurants, bars and beach clubs.
Safe from meeting people from all walks of life and having fabulous conversations? Definitely not. Stay at home on your couch where you are safe from people.
Am I being flippant with what is probably a serious question? Yep for sure.
Are you safe in Indonesia? Safe from taxis drivers asking you why you aren’t married and why you don’t have children? Nope, it is a culture heavily focused on family so be prepared. I quite often allude to my dogs (fur children) as actual children and The American and I may or may not be married, depending on who I am talking to. It’s just easier than explaining why I am divorced, 42 and seeking a new life in Bali without sounding all Eat Pray Love-ish, especially as there is nothing Eat Pray Love-ish about me at all.
Are you safe in Indonesia? From people who will tell you how it should be here? How the rubbish, the dogs, the water, the environment, the dolphins in swimming pools are an issue? Again no. You will hear this daily whether you are an expat, looking to become an expat or just visiting. And all of these are real issues, in Indonesia and everywhere else in the world. Find me a country that recycles 100% of its rubbish, has no animal welfare issues, uses water wisely and has no environmental or over-population issues, and I’ll move there. First world countries have all the same problems, but a lot are decorated and made to look pretty so you just don’t notice them, and first world countries also have funding to fix or find solutions. Countries that struggle to feed their people and to just provide clean water suitable for drinking have other priorities.
Are you safe in Indonesia? I guess it’s time to answer the big question. Indonesia is a fabulous melting pot of nationalities, cultures and religions. I have friends here who are Catholic, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Anglicans, hippies, entrepreneurs, retirees, working mums, single parents, vegetarians, vegans, meat-eaters, yogis, divers, cocktail aficionados, writers, readers, tall, short, married, divorced, gay, of no fixed religion, occasionally of no fixed address. And it’s what makes Indonesia beautiful. I’m writing this sitting in a resort on Nusa Lembongan, watching probably all of the above mentioned enjoying lunch, swimming, laughing, dancing, drinking, taking selfies and chatting with everyone they bump into. There are women in itsy bitsy bikinis and Muslim women wearing head-to-toe swimsuits, right next to each other, chatting about their kids.
In an age where we are more aware than ever of different cultures, different ways of life, being open and being tolerant and patient, we seem to have become more judgemental. Embarrassingly an Australian politician wanted to prove a point by wearing the full Muslim clothing for women into parliament. I’m not actually sure what point she was trying to prove, other than to further demonstrate her bigotry and ignorance, but apparently it was to show Parliament House in Australia is dangerous because she could have been hiding a bomb in her outfit.
No one stopped MC Hammer and his famous baggy pants and he could have been carrying a bomb. Guessing beehive hairdo’s won’t be coming back into fashion anytime soon, who knows what Marge Simpson is hiding in all that hair! Guess we all better start wearing clingy, short, tight clothing so we can clearly see weapons of mass destruction…oh no wait, then assumptions are made about promiscuity and sexualised behaviour and our personal safety comes under scrutiny…. Hopefully you can see where I’m going with this and haven’t started googling MC Hammer pants (I did by the way and then got caught up listening to Hammer Time so I forgive you if you did too).
Are you safe in Indonesia? Simple answer, yes and no. Same as anywhere else in the world but each country has its own risks to be considered. Do you need to be nervous about different cultures, religions and terrorist or violent actions in Indonesia? No more so than any other country. A higher population of any type of religion doesn’t mean anything. A high population of fanatics, bigots or zealots however is a concern and in my experience they can live anywhere in the world and come in every shape, size, religion and belief system.
Indonesian is a country of smiling people, happy to help and always happy to have a laugh with you. It’s great food, sensational views, stunning beaches and breath-taking mountains. It’s ocean, lakes, rivers and mangroves. It’s temples, mosques, churches and yoga shalas. And it’s as safe as we can all make it – there is no ‘them’, just us.
We just recently launched The Sunrise Series because I like the idea that everyone, everywhere in the world wakes up to the same sunrise. Maybe I should call my more topical blogs The Soapbox Series…. (As I get down from my soapbox). As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with comments or ideas, or blog suggestions for what you would like to know about Bali or Indonesia. I’m always happy to travel in the name of research!!