Over the years, it quickly became clear that the weird stories were not that far behind either. Since our city site launched in 2014, we have witnessed and reported on a variety of strange occurrences on the island that may come off as clickbait at a glance, but ended up being an actual thing that happened. And who would’ve thought that so many (too many?) of these stories involve foreigners visiting Bali?
We’re talking about stories like a woman who posed in a bikini in front of a Balinese Hindu temple and an Australian man who fly-kicked a man off a moving scooter because he was so drunk (the man was injured, but he survived). Then there’s also that British tourist who slapped an immigration officer after she was told she has to pay an overstay fee, among many others.
As we celebrate Coconuts’ 10th anniversary this month, Coconuts Bali is revisiting the 10 most memorable foreigner shenanigans that have happened – ‘cause just as much as we love the wondrous, Coconuts do have a penchant for the weird, absurd, and sometimes even bizarre.
It goes without saying that we absolutely love bringing these stories to your screens, and we look forward to doing more and even better for the decade(s) to come!
1. On foreigner privilege, gentrification, and racism: How one American digital nomad’s Twitter thread about Bali sparked backlash
One of our biggest stories to-date, and the whole thing blew up on Twitter like wildfire only earlier this year. An American digital nomad named Kristen Gray sparked an international controversy that saw Indonesians and Americans weighing in after she wrote a thread about “how you can thrive in life.” That sounds harmless enough at a glance, but one closer look and you’ll see traces of unchecked foreigner privilege, irresponsible generalizations, and even an encouragement to skirt immigration rules during the COVID-19 pandemic.
2. ‘You have no law’: foreigner chained after insisting he isn’t breaking rule for jogging during Nyepi
One would think that adhering to local customs is to be expected of visitors, and yet one foreigner thought he could simply break the rules during the Balinese Day of Silence, or Nyepi, just last year. Most of us know that the day is meant to self-reflect, and that staying in is absolutely mandatory. But one foreign dude just had to go for his morning jog.
Have you ever gotten so drunk that you fly-kicked a man off a moving scooter in the middle of the street? No? Well, that’s a “yes,” from at least one Australian man, who later had to deal with authorities in Bali for what at first seemed like random acts of violence, but was later proven to be one hell of a drunken rampage.
4. WATCH: British tourist slaps Bali immigration officer, mad because she has to pay visa overstay fee
Anything related to immigration can be such a hassle indeed, what with all the bureaucracy involved; and we’re familiar with that here in Indonesia. But slapping an immigration officer over a hefty fine because you yourself overstayed your visa? Sounds a bit unreal at first, but that’s one of the things cameras are good for.
Aussies behaving badly in Bali don’t come off as a surprise anymore, but it would be a lie to say that some of the things they pull off don’t stun us. In this story from 2019, a group of Australian tourists went on a rampage across the island in what was described as “disgusting, obscene, and insulting” behavior; which includes urinating in public and running around naked. Again, not so much surprised, but rather perplexed.
6. Insta photo of bikini-clad woman ignorantly posing on Balinese temple incites shitstorm of angry comments
Usually, there’s a specific theme as to why foreigners in Bali get a shit ton of backlash for the things they do on the island, and at the end of the day, it comes down to ignorance; which means they end up disrespecting what should really just be common sense. Now, there’s plenty of that well-documented across the internet and even your very own Coconuts Bali, but this one from five years ago serves as a reminder that foreigners being disrespectful of Balinese culture and customs have gone on for way too long.
7. Swedish model deletes Instagram account after commenters call her caption about Bali rice farmer insensitive
On the surface level, there seems to be a disconnect between Bali being one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations and the fact that life for most people on the island are still tied to agriculture. That may have been why Swedish influencer Natalie Schlater reflected on the difference between her life and a rice farmer… but when you put things like that on the internet… it’s not really as deep as one might think.
8. British model on the run from UK police arrested in Bali, local police allegedly find self-produced porn videos on his phone
Bali is the perfect escape for reality indeed, and the same is true even for fugitives. One British model saw the island as a place for refuge (from the law), and he appears comfortable enough on the Island of the Gods to start producing his own porn. Spoiler alert: there’s one with dogs and fish.
Most people know Bali as a coveted holiday destination, but who would’ve guessed that it’s also deemed an ideal murder location? The “Bali suitcase murder” from the island has got to be one of the most notorious cases from the island, and we’d be amiss if we did not include this on this list; and it just so happen to involve foreigners.
10. Immigration revokes Bali spiritual community founder’s temporary stay permit after controversial crowded event
The COVID-19 pandemic has clearly shown us that way too many foreigners in Bali simply don’t respect existing regulations, and a crowded gathering hosted by a spiritual community in Ubud sparked controversy last June for breaking health protocols. The fact that someone got deported for this became one of the first instances of stern action from local authorities during the pandemic, paving way for even stricter measures since.