This is why everyone keeps coming back. Just remember – especially if you're female – to play it safe.
Going To Bali? Drink Beer.
Some good advice from local pro, Marlon Gerber.
Marlon Gerber has some simple advice for the guests that stay at his family’s hotel in Kuta:
“I always tell them to drink beer when you guys are out. If you want to drink spirits, make sure you go to a restaurant or you know its real, ‘cos there’s a lot of fake shit out there.”
Marlon’s advice comes on the back of a bad week in the island paradise. Santa Cruz surfer-writer, Mara Woodford, was nearly killed earlier this week after having her drink spiked in Canggu, the popular surfing and tourist location on Bali’s west coast. Her ensuing Facebook post has had 13k shares and led to her receiving a further 40 emails detailing similar stories of druggings and attempted date rape.
Here's some snippets from Mara's account:
"The bartender makes them behind the bar out of my view. I don’t worry about this, I’m chatting with the bar guys in Bahasa and they’re cool. I leave the drink on the bar and go to the bathroom. All of these acts, ordering mixed drinks, not watching them being made and leaving a drink unattended, are fatal errors in Bali, but this evening, I wasn’t too concerned."
“Half-way through the second mojito (also poured out of view), the Rohypnol kicked in with fury. I knew what it was because this happened three years ago and it was terrifying. From the speed in which this was happening, it felt like multiple doses."
"I am now nearly paralyzed and can barely talk. And what happens next is, between projectile vomiting and loss of all bodily function, I nearly go into organ failure."
“I know it may sound weird that we wouldn’t go straight to the hospital, but the hospitals here wouldn’t know what to do either, in the case of severe benzodiazepine poisoning, and my stomach and bowels had already been purged: my body was fighting hard to save itself."
“I come to late yesterday feeling like I was run over by a truck. I really don’t know who would think it was funny or a good idea to slip a 51-kilo woman enough Flunitrazepam as to nearly kill her, but it reconfirms for me that they aren’t the type of people I want around me."
“Bye, Bali and Fuck you, as well.”
It was the second time Mara has been drugged in Bali. On the first occasion, luckily, pro surfing legend Brad Gerlach and photographer Mick Curley came to her aid.
It’s a sadly familiar story, according to Marlon:
"You hear stuff about people getting their drinks drugged up,” he says. “There’s a lot of bootleg liquor, they put (local liquor) Mansion House in the Grey Goose bottle or Absolut bottle and you get this super gnarly hangover that lasts for three days.
“Be smart, don’t leave your drinks unattended, and make you sure you know what you’re drinking.”
The day after the Mara Woodford incident, French expat, model and fashion photographer Kenza Le Bas was pursued relentlessly by a local man on a motorbike after she and a friend ducked out for a late night snack (read her post here).
It’s a common story, though unfortunately there's no real safeguard against it other than never travelling alone at night if you’re a woman. Marlon says first timers to Bali should be particularly wary:
“The (local) people can see if you’re a first time tourist here. The locals can spot that quite easily and you’re always a target if you’re a first timer here. People just have too much fun here and they forget and they become an easy target.”
Here's Marlon and the better side of living in Bali: