john tiong chunghoo

Gold Star - 5,668 Points (Jan 21,1960 / Sibu, Sarawak, Borneo East Malaysia)

Travel Indonesia Haiku - Seven Days In Bali - Poem by john tiong chunghoo

the bombs have scared
the tourists away.
they too have dented
the pysche of the islanders,
making them petty rupiah pinchers.
after years pampered by tourist influx
the dropp in arrivals hits hard
at where it matters most.
now each new tourist is scutinised
with those beggary eyes
of his ability to
satisfy their private wants.
even the priests at famous hindu temples
could not hide their displeasure
at the 10,000 rupiah donation i gave.
a shrouded contempt
betrayed by those revealing eyes, look.
in the streets, the weight
of the stares of the pimps
from medan, jakarta, acheh
all over indonesia
submerged my heart in unease.
these indonesian cowboys
who too have come for the slice
of the tourist dollars
now getting smaller
throwing me women, boys, marijuana
for a kill.
one who had not sold anything
asked me to buy him a packet
of rice at a nearby stall
for 1,000 rupiah i.e.1/14 of a pound.
the more daring ones had even become crass
throwing insult like 'Why dont you bring your own? ' on my complaint of overpriced
mangosteen at 15,000 rupiah a kilo (one pound) .
at home in kuala lumpur, it is half a pound.
so much for the degradation in manners
the worse aftershock of the bali bombing.
it is spend, spend, spend
when visiting temples.
first the entrance fee, then a donation for a a sash to cover my lower body,
then another donation for a guide to lead me.
they showed me previous donations
of Euro30 and even US50 obviously by a group of tourists who chipped in a few euro each.
what a disadvantage a lone traveller i was.
they asked me to pay the same.
i protested and paid only 10,000 rupiah.
a guide who took me around the Mother of Temple at Bersaketh privately
asked for some money for his keep
as the earlier was meant for the temple.
i gave another 20,000 rupiah,
a fortune to visit the most holy shrine
in the island, the last outpost of hinduism
in south east asia, the charm, mysticism, now lost in the scramble for the tourist dollars made scarcier by terrorism.
imagine the sales girl greeting my
request for a discount for a silver shell ring met with such coldness, she threw the money into the drawer in leaving, i was specially informed by a travel agent boy there is an exit tax 100,000 rupiah (eight pounds) .
i gladly paid with the wish that
Indonesia and Bali would raise above

Comments about Travel Indonesia Haiku - Seven Days In Bali by john tiong chunghoo

  • (4/29/2014 2:05:00 PM)

    Very sad piece but I greatly enjoyed the read! (Report)Reply

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  • (3/9/2005 8:34:00 AM)

    Wow, this is a sad commentary. I visited Bali before the terrorist attack and I found it delightful if a bit too touristy. I had been wondering if tourism had recovered, but your piece shows me it hasn't. Weakened economies bring out the worst in people generally, and I guess Bali is no exception. You might consider writing an article for a travel section of a newspaper or magazine. The best of them accept articles that aren't glowing endorsements. (Report)Reply

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Read poems about / on: money, travel, women, silver, girl, mother, lost, home, woman

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Poem Edited: Saturday, January 17, 2009

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