Bali and the Bogans

I told you in my previous blog stories of the local black pigs and the imported western pink pigs.

Today I want to introduce you to a third pig: the white pot bellied pig

But before I tell you about this pig and the damage it is causing to the island I need to give you a little background of how we came across it.

Our first week on Bali was spent in Ubud, which is the geographical and spiritual heart of the island. It is a bustling small town situated in the hills of Bali. It is a picturesque and charming place, but its setting is what gets the Fabulosity Meter ringing every time. The town is surrounded by gorges cut out of the fertile land by fast flowing rivers. Steep terraces of rice paddies line the sides of the gorges all the way down to the waters edge.

bali rice fields 4

The shades of green, the sound of the fast flowing river, the rice farmers in the fields and the songs of the many birds all make it a mesmerizing location

rice field worker 2

Visitors to Ubud can be divided into different and very distinct groups. The first group are those who have come to refresh their spirit. They are easy to recognise as they look as if they have been transported directly from Haight Street in San Francisco in the 1960’s. Somehow they still find tie dyed clothing. The women wear long flowing dresses and scarves draped over their shoulders or heads. They wear no makeup but lots of cheap dangly jewelry. They spend their days going to the many spiritual healers, yoga classes and meditation groups. They stay in remarkably inexpensive but charming little homestay houses dotted around the town that advertise that they have hot and cold running water, though that isn’t always true. They slowly wander around town looking at bead stores and stopping for coffee wherever they can sit cross legged on cushions on the floor. They have a smile on their face and a distant look in their eyes. If they were in San Francisco it would be because they were stoned, but here they are just high on life in this spiritual town.

A diametrically opposed group is the fabulously wealthy tourist. They too wear long flowing clothing, but only in white. They are immaculately made up, even in the pool, and wear platinum jewelry (gold is so passé) and huge glittering precious stones. They rejuvenate their spirit and their body in the many gorgeous spas where they can be pampered, massaged and detoxed all day.

bali spa 2

Face masks, coffee scrubs and milk baths scattered with rose petals negate their need for spiritual healers and meditation groups, but they will partake in a little gentle yoga class beside the pool before breakfast. They stay in truly luxurious hotels such as the Four Seasons which are dotted around outside of town and are usually perched on the rim of a fabulous gorge with drop dead views and breathtaking prices.

four seasons

The hotel limo can take them into town, should they want to go. Many don’t. Those that do have a quick look at how the other tourists are managing and then return to their splendid isolation where they are disturbed only by the sarong clad waiters bringing them another cocktail or spritzing their brows with chilled cucumber water.

We of course belong to neither of those groups. We are actually two of the very few tourists who rent a car and drive themselves around the island exploring the many beautiful little villages.

We are staying in a delightful villa hotel in Ubud called Bebek Tepi Sawah, which translates to Ducks beside the Rice Field. We are near the centre of Bali and there is indeed a rice field immediately outside our window but there are no ducks. They are presumably a victim of their own success. They were put there to attract customers. Customers came. The hotel restaurant in a rash moment declared Bali Crispy Duck to be their specialty and the ducks were quickly eaten by the very people they were supposed to attract.

Not wishing to appear more foolish than they already were, the hotel then replaced the real ducks with ceramic or wood ones. They rather over did it. They are everywhere

DSCN2226

The path to our villa is so charming we never actually want it to end.

DSCN2230

After Ubud, we were then booked to stay in Seminyak for 10 days. We have not been to Bali for four years but Seminyak was always our favourite seaside resort on the south coast. It is an upscale quiet town away from the tourists. Or it was.

We have booked a small private villa which is a rather glamorous term for a little two bedroom house with a small garden and pool. It is surrounded by a tall wall which gives it privacy and makes it a very peaceful secluded spot. It even comes with a house boy who cooks breakfast, cleans and runs errands. It is on a narrow little street which boasts a few other houses like ours and a handful of small local shops, and leads down to the beach. What could be more perfect.

But in four years things have changed dramatically. As we turn our car into the little street we are faced with this huge ugly building site.

harris hotel

It dominates the street for several hundred yards and stops only when it butts up to our villa wall

We have paid for a week but stay for an hour. We are fortunate to find a charmingly quirky little bed and breakfast in a quieter spot

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But  Seminyak has been ruined for us and after three days we flee back to Ubud.

Seminyak has been overrun by Bogans

You might have been wondering if I have forgotten all about that third pig I was going to introduce you to, but I haven’t .

Bogan is the name of this type of pig. It has been introduced to Bali from Australia. It is a white large pot bellied pig. It first came to the island a few decades ago but in the last three or four years it has really overrun the southern part and ruined it for many.

This pot bellied white pig wears board shorts and a tank top, has a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. It is called a Bogan, which is slang for an Australian Yob, or what the Americans call trailer trash. They are tattooed and pierced, loud and obnoxious.

bogans in a bar

They wear wrap around “sunnies” day and night

bogans with shades at night

The older Bogans have bald heads, goatees, huge guts and smoke “rollies”

And don’t think that is just the men. The Real Bogan Housewives of Bali are the perfect complement

bogan pregnant woman

Their favourite hangout in the morning is Hardy’s, Bali’s answer to Walmart, which is why they are also know as Hardynistas. Hardy’s is the cheapest place to buy Bintang (the local beer), and they stock up for their trip to the beach, which they then litter with their empty bottles and distended bodies.

passed out bogan woman

When they are able to stand, burnt, bloated and burping, they drag their bright red bodies to the nearest Hooters where the staff are expecting them and have buckets of booze waiting. And I do mean buckets

bogans, beer and buckets

 

The main streets of Seminyak used to be full of interesting little shops selling local arts and crafts, plus enticing restaurants, beautifully designed and offering great food from Indonesia and around the world.

But neither the shops nor the restaurants appealed to the Bintang Bogans , so now the streets are lined with bars, fast food restaurants, more bars and ugly little stores selling just what the Bogans want:

DSCN2483

They have been attracted here by the explosion of budget airlines which offer flights from Australia for as little as $99. They care nothing for the gentle people of Bali, their culture, their picturesque rice fields or their way of life. All they want is sun, sea and really cheap accommodation.

They were rapidly followed to Bali by Boganaires, (Bogans with money) who joined the other opportunistic investors to give the Bogans what they wanted. They were helped along by Indonesian officials who like nothing more than a bribe, which they gladly accept in lieu of planning permits. So the pockets of the officials are lined with cash and the little streets of Seminyak are lined with large ugly poorly built hotels offering tiny cheap rooms painted in garish colours that the Bogans are attracted to. These unsightly hotels  neither blend in nor complement the existing charming Balinese buildings.

The rice paddies too have disappeared, buried under concrete and the influx of the crass Australian dollars

The Boganaires found the Bogans easy to please. All they want from a hotel is a room for $30 or less. They are not interested in the décor or the comforts, they just need a bed to crash on. But there is one feature that the Bogans demand of a hotel, and that is a swim up bar where they can claim a permanent seat.

bogan swim up bar

The hoteliers gave them what they wanted, but as they built more and more the competition got fiercer. Unable to cut the room prices they offer other attractions such as pool parties that start at 5pm and two for one cocktail hours that start at 4pm and end at 10pm. The Bogans have never had it so good.  Now they need never leave their seat at the swim up bar, and they don’t, which considering the amount of liquids they have taken on board gives others food for thought, and keeps them well away from the pool.

Bogans, it seems, resent taking time to go to the toilets, no matter where they are

bali bogans

Now, dear readers, I know that you are thinking that once again I am giving the Australians a bum rap. I will admit that in the past I may have exaggerated just a smidgen when it came to describing the descendants of common criminals. But you have to trust me. I am not exaggerating one iota when I describe the Bogans of Bali. And if you find trusting me just a little hard, then do a google search for “Bogans” and “Bogans in Bali” and you will see that everything I have written is true.

But that having been said, I am also prepared to recognise that Bali does benefit from the Bogans. Without them the innumerable tattoo parlors would close down, the bars would be empty and the working girls would be unemployed.

Somebody give them a Bintang!

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11 Responses to Bali and the Bogans

  1. Those rice fields are beautiful.

  2. Baz says:

    I can’t seem to pick you and Gordon out in the group photos.

  3. Bonnie says:

    I guess this is all just another form of Bali “high”.

  4. SaraRozic says:

    Those terraces look amazing.

  5. Colette says:

    I can only imagine your utter shock seeing what happened to Seminyak – hope you spent as much time as possible in beautiful Ubud – in 4 years from now, who knows into what it will have morphed with a little baksheesh – love –

  6. awc49 says:

    Sublime rice fields, to the ridiculous…..
    Puts me in mind of a song……..”They paved paradise and … well you know the rest (and put up with the Bogan lot?)
    And that coming from the descendant of common criminals! 🙂

  7. T and J says:

    Thank goodness we aren’t Australians. Or bogans.

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