If you live in Bali, you must know that people don’t really get along with the Australians. The only people that can tolerate them are fellow Australians and the locals who work in tourism. Other than those two, nobody.
My friend from another continent once told me that she had a cultural shock seeing Australian young people in Kuta. She said that in where she lives, nobody sits in a cafe or drives a scooter around town with no shirt on or in bikini. Once they leave the beach, they wear normal clothes.
Another friend from another country said, “The Indonesians here must think white people don’t know how to behave properly, but the only people that behave like that are the Australians.”
I must agree that their behavior gives the island some bad effects. For instance, people don’t like Kuta any more because the crowd isn’t cool. Even worse, people don’t like Bali as if Bali is only Kuta.
But is it true that Australian people are annoying?
I think most of us are just too lazy to learn and try to understand, so we generalize. A lot of people hate the Americans because they’re perceived as arrogant, too conscious that they come from the most powerful country in the world — but I’ve got American friends that are not like that. A lot of people hate the French because they’re not friendly, unwilling to help unless you speak French — but I know some people from there that are not like that.
So I’ve made a theory about the Australians in Bali, especially the young ones. In their own country, cigarettes are very expensive. There’s almost no public places where they can smoke. People are only allowed to buy alcoholic drinks, including beer, after they’re 18. And the rules are strict, nothing like in Indonesia where you can bend them all you want and nothing happens.
No wonder that most Australian people in Kuta are teenagers. They probably come to Bali to smoke thousands of cigarettes, get drunk, party wild, and break the rules. They see Bali, which is part of Indonesia where the rules are a bag of lousy jokes, as a perfect place to mess around. They see Bali as a paradise in an ugly way.
I’ve never been to Australia, but people say that the Australians don’t behave like that in their country. They’re normal. And it often happens that when the grown-up Australians come to Bali, they feel ashamed of these teenagers.
In Bali sometimes our mood suddenly drops when we know that somebody — say, our travel partner or a friend we just made — comes from Australia. But we have to remind ourselves that not everybody is the same. We can’t just generalize. As an Indonesian, I wouldn’t like it if I was badly treated or seen as a stupid person from an always-developing — or third world? — country just because I’m from Indonesia, as though there are no bright people in the country.
Quite recently I went to a restaurant with some foreign people and asked the waiter what’s the best they had. Pointing at a dish on the menu, he said, “Usually the locals order this one.”
You can probably guess what happened next. I didn’t order that thing he pointed. Even if it was the only food they had that night, I would prefer to leave and eat somewhere else. Why? Because nobody likes to be generalized. Nobody likes it when his or her individuality is not recognized. As if we don’t have our own personality. As though all Australians are the same.