A sad end to a strange tale

Angeline has been found, dead, buried in a white cloth, with her barbie doll beside her. Her shallow grave was right in her step mother’s backyard, under a palm tree, in among the chicken coops. Having been denied access to search the property, the police waited until the step mother was out shopping and forced their way in.  They were suspicious of a pungent smell and new earth in a certain spot, and when they started digging, they unearthed Angeline’s body. It was already decomposing as it had been in the ground for almost a month.

Seven people have been arrested in connection with the murder, Margareth, her step mother, her 2 daughters, the security guard, maid and two people that were renting a room at the house. The newspapers are full of stories today, where the maid has confessed to the murder. He admits to sexually assaulting her, and burning her with cigarettes  before killing her. He also admits that he was sexually assaulting her on a daily basis running up to her murder. Even though Margareth is claiming to know nothing, the maid insists she knew.

Teachers from Angeline’s school came to pay their respects at her home, and were in tears as they remembered what a good student she had been. They did say that she often came to school dirty and smelly, and that the teacher herself gave her showers and food.

It is clear that Angeline was not well cared for, and that she suffered under violent hands. Just who dealt the final blow is still unclear, but it seems that many people were involved in making her life a misery. The paranormal had been right all along, she was still in the area of her house, being cared for by the spirits. The superstitious side of the Indonesians shows through, as the maid describes why he buried Angeline with her doll “Agus mengaku mengubur boneka di samping Angeline agar arwahnya tidak gentayangan,” terang Hana saat dihubungi, Kamis (11/6/2015). (Agus says he buried the doll next to Angeline so that her soul would not haunt him”)

Such a tragic story, and a terrible way to die. Lets hope she is at peace now in heaven.

Inside Kerobokan Jail

Kerobokan jail is notorious world wide, and has been the focus of a great deal of attention over the years. It sits on prime real estate just outside the tourist areas, and is home to over 1000 inmates, even though it was originally built to house only 300. The conditions are cramped and squalid, at least they were when I went to visit a couple of years ago. Since then, there has been some revamping, so perhaps things are better now.

This jail has housed some big household names, such as Schapelle Corby and the Bali nine, and tourists have been known to come on “tours” of the facility. Of course, the jail does not actually put on tours, but somehow these “fans” are able to get in. Why they would want to is beyond me.

I did find myself visiting the jail a couple of years ago. My husband and I were informed that one of our friends had been arrested and was currently being held in Kerobokan jail. His crime? Gambling. The Balinese culture includes several forms of gambling, such as cockfighting and card playing. It is all pretty harmless, and acceptable in the culture. However, Indonesian law comes down hard on gambling, and so this friend had to do his time.

We felt as we lived so close, we should go and visit. We were also intrigued about this infamous jail, and interested to see what it was like inside. There is a long and drawn out process involved in going to visit, and we had a long wait outside before we were allowed in.

We went through protocol after protocol, I have forgotten how many doors and searches there were, but it was a lot. I chatted to other visitors, and mostly they were relatives of inmates, and the crimes committed ranged from gambling to drugs. Once through the final door, it was surprisingly free for all. Our inmate friend met us, and led us through a room that was full to capacity. There were people everywhere. Every piece of floor space was covered, people were sitting on top of each other, kissing, making out, chatting etc. There was food strewn everywhere. It was a mess. We had to pick our way through the bodies to the other side of the room.

I was already feeling uncomfortable. It was impossible to tell who were the visitors and who were the inmates. Our inmate friend had obviously worked out how to play the system, and had arranged for a private room for our visit. It was a relief to get inside the room, away from all the crowds. He had a fellow inmate guarding the door while we sat and talked, and another brought us food and drinks. As with any institution there is a system of hierarchies, and our friend was pretty near the top.

I got a little bored with the conversation, and decided to wander back in to the crowded room, and out to the fence outside, that separated the visiting room with the rest of the jail. Here, I could get a glimpse of the rest of the facility. I could see the tennis courts and garden area. It looked quite pleasant. Inmates were wandering around outside the fence, and I chatted to a couple of guys. One was a westerner who seemed (or pretended) to not understand why he was there, another an old Indonesian guy that was in for receiving stolen goods. All pretty petty crimes considering the place they were being held.

I also got a look in to the Maximum security building, where there was a big western guy, sitting, looking out at me. He had a real mean look in his eyes, and I felt very uneasy. I made my way back to our private room, and was relieved when my husband announced we were leaving.

We had to wait by the locked doors, for the guards to come and let us out. While we were waiting, a fight broke out between one of the inmates and the guards, and came scarily close to where we were standing. I grabbed my husband, and prayed that we would be let out quickly. As soon as the guard came, I rushed at the door, dragging my husband with me. As we piled out of the jail, I was sweating profusely, and my heart was beating so fast, I felt I was going to collapse. I have never been so scared in my life, and I never ever want to experience that again.

Its a terrifying place, and I am not surprised certain inmates suffer psychologically in there. I was there for about an hour, and it has left a lasting impression on me. Every day since, I thank my lucky stars that I am a free citizen  that does not have to live that kind of nightmare day after day.

Child abductions

Two weeks ago, an 8 year old girl went missing from outside her house, and has yet to be found. A Facebook page has been set up to help find her, and it is all over the news. Her name is Angeline and she was living with her step mother, in Sanur, South Bali.

From reading the news reports, it seems more focus has been on what kind of mother her step mother was, and the condition of the house that they live in. A representative from child protection services has even stated that he would not allow Angeline to go back to live with her step mother, even if she is found.Does he have that right? Why are they being so hard on her, and not considering there may be a worse criminal out there that has abducted this child?

There are a few things that do not make sense in the scenario, for example, it is claimed that Angeline was playing in her garden, and the step mother was inside the house, when she disappeared. Seeing the house on TV, this seems hard to understand. The house is full of dogs, and chickens, that made a lot of noise when the TV reporters came, and by association would also have alerted the step mother if an abductor had come in.

The house is secured with a large wooden gate, that even the step mother found hard to close. How could Angeline have gone outside, without being spotted? That being said, anything is possible, and we have to keep our minds open to any scenario, and the press are not helping the situation by giving the step mother a hard time.

While browsing Facebook today, I came across a social experiment conducted by Joey Salads, where he demonstrates just how easy it is to lure children in to an ice cream truck. These children are around the same age as Angeline, and should know better than to get in to a truck with a stranger, yet all but one do just that. Our children are extremely vulnerable and we need to keep them safe.

Please, if you are in Bali, keep an eye out for Angeline, and pray that she is brought home safely. Visit the Facebook page Find Angeline – Bali’s Missing Child for more details

update on June 10 2015 : Angeline was found, dead, in her own back yard,  buried under the chicken coops. Her step mother is under suspicion of murder. Such a sad ending to a strange tale

Should You Boycott Bali?

The term Boycott Bali is being bandied around Facebook right now, in reaction to the execution of 8 death row convicts, and in particular the 2 Bali 9 ring leaders. I am having a hard time trying to understand the reasons behind this knee jerk reaction. So lets clarify who should Boycott Bali:

1. Drug smugglers. If you are a drug smuggler, and planning to bring drugs through Bali, then I highly suggest you boycott Bali. If you make the choice to still come here, after what has happened, then more fool you. Please look carefully at the photo of the sign that you will pass when you enter:

death penalty

This sign states very clearly what will happen if you bring drugs here, you cannot say you were not warned.

2. Murderers.  You should also boycott Bali. If you plan to come here, kill your mother, and stuff her in a suitcase, think again. You will get caught and end up in one of the worst prisons in the world.

3. Pedophiles. The Balinese love children, and do not appreciate anyone messing with them, so please boycott Bali.

4. Thieves. Also, not really appreciated here, and if caught, you may not make it to prison as the local community may deal with you first.

But, if you are someone who is looking for a place to visit, where you can relax in the sun, meet wonderful people and learn about a new culture, then you are welcome. If you are a law abiding citizen that respects the laws of the country you are visiting, there is no need to boycott Bali.

Indonesia is a large country, that consists of thousands of islands, of which, Bali is only one. The laws are not created in Bali. The head of the Kerobokan prison even put his neck on the line by speaking up for the two Bali 9 guys. The Balinese people had nothing to do with the executions. They should not be punished for this. The majority of the Balinese people rely on tourism to support their families, and by boycotting Bali you will be hurting the wrong people.

So should you boycott Bali? Check the list above, and if you do not fit in the first four categories, then I see no reason for you to do so. Of course, you are free to make your own decision, but just make sure you are boycotting for the right reasons, and not just to follow the crowd.

Death by Firing Squad

Its the talk of the town right now. Tonight, just after midnight, nine death row inmates will be taken from their cells and lead to the execution sight. There, they will be blindfolded, and tied to a stake in the ground. They have the choice to stand, kneel or sit, their hands and feet will be tied together. Each prisoner has twelve marksmen aiming rifles at their heart. They will be wearing white clothes, with a black spot over their heart, to help the marksmen to hit the right spot. The coffins and crosses are already prepared. Their fate is sealed.

I wonder what is going on in their heads right now, as the end draws near. I hope they have come to terms with their fate and can let go peacefully. I don’t think we should fear death, the way they are going to die is horrific, but death itself, perhaps not.

Watching all this unfold, the fears that are racing through my mind are very selfish. I am haunted by fears for my own children. When I look at the photos of those two Bali 9 boys when they were first arrested, they were not much older than my boys are right now. They were young and foolish when they committed the crime. Yes, they broke the law, and deserve to be punished. They have already served ten years in jail. But do they deserve to die such a violent death?

What I fear is, despite being reformed citizens, doing so much good within the prison community, despite the prison governor vouching for them, and pleading their case, the president of Indonesia will not back down. It is black and white, and he is showing absolutely no mercy.

That’s my fear. Will my boys fall in with the wrong crowd, or be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and be unable to argue their case? Will they face the same dead end? I love Bali, but there is a very frightening side when you are a mother of teenagers. My boys are starting to spread their wings, and explore new things. I want to hold them close, and never let them go, and yet, I know I need to cut the ties and let them fly…..

cleaning up plastic in Bali

Bali is a magical island, truly beautiful and exotic. Unfortunately, plastic has found its way here, and is ruining the countryside. The Balinese people used to use only natural products, and threw them in the river when they were finished. Now they are doing the same with plastic, unaware of the damage they are causing. There are many organisations that have been set up to help alleviate this situation before its gets too out of hand. Enviro Pallets is one of those companies, encouraging the locals to collect plastic bags and sell them on for use in creating recycled pallets. Its a great idea, and this is a beautiful video, (starring my daughter)




The language debate

It has been in the news recently that in order to get a working permit in Indonesia, you now need to take a language proficiency test. Everyone is up in arms abut how unfair this is, how Indonesia should make it easy for expats to live here. Wow, how arrogant can people get!! If you want to work in Germany, you have to take a language test, and probably most other countries. It makes sense, that in order to work in a country you need to have at least a basic understanding of the language. How else are you going to communicate?

I had a shocking conversation the other day with an expat that has been living here for 8 years. He proudly announced that he could not even count to 10 in Indonesian!! He then went on to pronounce that he has no desire or will to learn the language as he finds he has nothing in common with the local people. This is being said in front of his Indonesian wife by the way!

I love language, I find it fascinating, and by learning a language you get a much better insight in to how the people think. Bali is a beautiful island, and people come to live here, for the low cost of living and pleasant climate. Many do not contribute other than to buy products here and spend money in 5 star resorts, oh and provide work for domestic workers. But as a result they only get to scratch the surface of life here. Maybe that’s all they want, but its not enough for me. I want to understand as much as i can. My husband is Balinese, my children are Balinese, so I owe it to them to make the effort.

This new rule is not actually targeted at expats, but rather in response to the opening up of the free trade and free movement of workers in the ASEAN Economic community, making it easier for Asians to move between countries and find work. There are already 68,762 foreigners working in Indonesia, and most of those are from China, Japan, Korea,India and Malaysia.

So people need to get off their high horses, and be a little bit more respectful to the country where they have chosen to live. Learn the language! Its such an easy and fun language to speak, and you never know, you might just start to like the local people and find that you have much more in common than you thought!

Bali nine

Living in Bali right now, you cannot escape the news about the two Bali nine boys that are on death row. Its been in the news every day for weeks and there are heated discussions on the Bali forums on facebook. I do not really want to get dragged in to a debate on this, so I won’t say much.

I do not agree with using the death penalty, I do not believe that we have the right to take other’s lives, and I do believe people can change and deserve a second chance. These two boys were very young when they committed their crime, and they made a very stupid mistake. Since being in jail, they seem to have reformed, and are genuinely repentant of their sins.

However, when you come to Indonesia, it is made very clear what the country’s stance is when it comes to drug trafficking. They knew the risks they were taking, and now they are paying the price. The president of Indonesia is in a very difficult position. As a human, I am sure he does not agree with killing. However, as the leader of this country, he has to be seen to upholding the values of the country, as well as the laws. Indonesian people are very proud, and do not like to be told what to do. The more Australia tries to intervene, the more Indonesia will dig in their heals. I feel for the families, and would never wish this situation on anyone, but I cannot see things changing.

I’d like to be proven wrong, but that is what I feel