BYRNE: The villagers of Blahbutah bring the best of what they can grow and buy to offer to their Hindu Gods, seeking forgiveness for a crime they cannot comprehend. They call it Bom Bali and what the world sees as a vicious attack by Islamic terrorists, they see as a punishment, a warning and a sign of their own spiritual failure.

BAGUS: That is the time for us now to pray for forgiveness of the God,
because maybe we haven’t done enough during the last few years.
Pond outside restaurant
BYRNE: You believe that? That it’s a sign from the Gods?
BAGUS: Yes. Yes. I think these universe are controlled by the God and in a way not us.
Burning offering

BYRNE: It is an extraordinary response to an act of overwhelming evil, which killed thirty-nine Indonesians, at least a half of them Balinese. But they are convinced here that recovery will come through prayer and constant ritual. They also realise it’s only the beginning.
Wayang kulit performance

BYRNE: The King of the Demons, Karla Ludra, frolics with his foot soldiers, gleeful at the prospect of destroying the world. In Bali, the art of the Wayang puppet masters imitates a terrible true-life event. It’s a way of easing the trauma, reassuring children at school and in the villages that there is evil and good in everyone and good can triumph.
Sidia with puppets
SIDIA: In the wayang, I try to use a very traditional story but I combine it with the situation right now.
Kids… they’re confused because the parent died and somebody’s come in the story and tried to explain to him -- don’t be sad, because… They explain about life -- in this life we’re actually born… grow… die. All people will die.
Priest making holy water
BYRNE: Holy water to bless the faithful, to drive away the demons, to restore the cosmic order.
In times of trouble it’s to the high priest the Balinese traditionally turn. Part healer, part spiritual guide and the one who sees and strives to explain the big picture.
PRIEST: It’s not just the Balinese karma; it’s all of humanity’s karma because bombs are happening all over the world. So this is a way of getting back at human beings – they’ve started to destroy nature.
Balinese resort hotel

BYRNE: If bad karma is the undoing of Bali, then perhaps this is what’s behind it. The names are familiar enough – Kuta, Sanur, Nusa Dua – a seemingly endless sprawl down the coast of what’s invariably described as this tropical paradise.
Bagus walks with Byrne
BAGUS: As you know the occupancy rates are low for the island…

BYRNE: Sudibya Bagus knows success, at least in this material world. Three up-market resorts attracting tourism’s top enders, but long before Bom Bali, Bagus warned of his island’s over dependence on tourism.

Super: Sudibya Bagus
Resort Owner
BAGUS: Tourism is still very good sources for us. Tourism is still bringing us a very good opportunity, but we cannot only live on tourism. Actually we should not go back, but we have to find what is the best way now to do in agriculture.
Bagus at farm
BYRNE: To prove his commitment Bagus has become a farmer himself, or at least a farm manager with big dreams. This three-hectare plot on Bali’s north coast, yields enough vegetables, flowers and fruit to make his own hotels self sufficient, and the benefit of a shift back to agriculture would not be purely economic.
BAGUS: They are becoming more and more, let’s say like people who consumes a lot of thing, so therefore I think this is a sign from the God also that we have to think back into the originality of our style of life.
DEGUNG: Nobody want to be a farmer.

BYRNE: But now people are talking about the need to.

DEGUNG: But also not only that, but the land no longer belongs to the Balinese. They already sold the land.

Degung reading
BYRNE: Degung Santikarma is a Balinese maverick, an intellectual who became a magazine editor so he could argue against the stereotypes like his people’s deep affinity with agriculture.

Super: Degung Santikarma
DEGUNG: It’s a sweet talk. It’s like, you know, like urban romanticism.

BYRNE: To go back to the land?

DEGUNG: Of course. They just like a western romanticism to see the everything green, you know, agrarian green paradise like that, but the land is no longer belong to the Balinese. You have to remember that.

Rice paddys
BYRNE: Each year some one thousand hectares of this tiny island’s farmland is bought by developers. Many are Javanese turning the emerald rice terraces into hotels and golf courses, diverting precious water into swimming pools,
Tourists on club strip
and while tourism makes money for Bali it was also western tourists who made it a target for the bombers.


Iluh with friends at foundation launch
BYRNE: Nineteen year old Iluh is having a night out just one kilometre from where her father, a taxi driver, perished outside the Sari Nightclub. Patrons are few, but they’ve come together tonight to launch a foundation for the widows and children of those who died.
ILUH: I still feel confused and very sad. How could my father be gone? I still can’t believe my father is gone.
BYRNE: On the Kuta strip amidst the thumping bars and restaurants, a makeshift memorial is all that remains of Paddy’s bar and the Sari Club. Behind the bright lights, the Balinese mourn their dead.
Leniasih and children
Twenty five year old Leniasih and her two young children must now fend for themselves, sharing this tiny rented room. Her beloved husband, Kadek, was the sole breadwinner, a bartender who was literally blown apart by the Sari Club blast.
LENIASIH: My husband was found at Sanglah hospital with the help of a healer. My husband was finally found with no head or arms -- his torso down to his feet was in one piece but badly burned.
Leniasih at widows’meeting
BYRNE: In their pain Leniasih and the other widows meet regularly to share memories, offer support and -- in a very un-Balinese way -- take the talking cure with one of Bali’s few psychiatrists.

Psychiatrist: Now you’re looking to the future?
Woman: Yes, only to the future.
Psychiatrist: What are your aspirations?
Woman: I want to get married again.

Super: Sisa Dejesus
International Medical Corps
SISA: Initially the widows, the direct bomb victims, and local people, really had trouble laughing about anything and that’s a very Balinese thing to be able to laugh about terrible things. So now when people can laugh it’s a sign of health.

BYRNE: Sisa dejesus is a nurse with the aid group IMC providing both counselling and medical support to the widows. One third are clinically depressed she says. Then there are the children. Dozens of them. Many deeply traumatised by the loss of their fathers and the distress of their mothers. Some withdraw. Others become uncontrollable. All suffer in their own way.
BYRNE: Post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and panic attacks, these are very western diagnoses. Do the Balinese confirm to these diagnoses?

SISA: Frequently what happens is the Balinese will go and do the traditionally required ritual to try and heal the problem. Perhaps they’re experiencing PTSD or a depression or an anxiety and it needs to be treated medically. So that we don’t ignore the cultural aspects of it. In fact we try and incorporate it into how we treat them.
Young men on street

BYRNE: The shockwaves of Bom Bali stretch beyond the immediate victims in the city, out to the villages, where thousands of young Balinese sit idle and angry. Sent home when their jobs disappeared.
Young man
YOUNG BALINESE MAN: I used to be a tour guide.

BYRNE: For how long did you have that job?

YOUNG BALINESE MAN: I was there for two years.

BYRNE: And they just fired you?

YOUNG BALINESE MAN: Yes, fired me.

Young men on street
BYRNE: They were bartenders, pool attendants and gardeners. Now they’re jobless and broke and crime is on the increase.
Young man
YOUNG BALINESE MAN: Because getting a lot of no job, a lot are jobless, could be a security no good any more like they will steal something. People steal something from home like a pig, a piglet or something from home.

BYRNE: That’s happening?

YOUNG BALINESE MAN: That’s happening. That’s a reality.
Scavengers at Ubud
BYRNE: How far do the shockwaves run? To the very bottom of society. These scavengers at Ubud once earned a living culling beer and whisky bottles from the tourist’s garbage. Now even that is denied them. They are Muslims and migrants in an overwhelmingly Hindu province. They have nowhere to turn.
AHMAD: This is it… this is the end of the road for me. For any other type of work you need a lot of capital.
Man cuts grass on farm
BYRNE: And the waves push not just deep but wide. Each village feels the loss. The farmers who supplied the hotel with meat and vegetables. The makers of handicrafts. The weavers and painters. And in this quiet time there’s a growing feeling that visitors have never truly known the place anyway, its violent history, its struggle for independence. As for the people, perhaps they became what the tourists wanted. Human postcards.
DEGUNG: That’s what Bali’s all about,

Super: Degung Santikarma
really, really smile and you’re trying to smile. If you look at the tourism campaign in Bali they call them “seven charms” so every Balinese has to master that. They have to smile. They have to be friendly. You have to be neat. You have to be clean. You have to be memorable. You can’t necessarily be your own culture. That’s what, that’s the result of tourism. That’s what Balinese do.
White herons

BYRNE: Bali is a place which accepts -- even values -- the unexplained. Like the white herons of Petulu, which have landed in the same place each evening for close to forty years. No one asks why. It is, they say, a blessing from the Gods.
Leniasih with children
Leniasih has no explanation for her daughter, Rika, when she calls at night for her father, but this is what the young widow tells herself.

LENIASIH: I just submit to God. I will try really hard to support my children and care for them and love them. I try really hard, and I always pray to God.
Widows’ group
BYRNE: And Sisa the professional nurse, what does she tell the little ones? What is the rational explanation for what happened on October 12?
SISA: And this little girl is very open and she comes to the office and she says to me I miss my mummy and where is my mummy? She’s very aware that there’s a loss in her life and she doesn’t yet know how to fill it.

BYRNE: What’s her name?

SISA: Her name’s Dinda.

BYRNE: Is that her, the little girl in the pink dress?

SISA: That’s her.

BYRNE: And what do you say to her?

SISA: I say I imagine you do miss your mummy. What else can you say?
Ocean/Bars/ceremony/ young men

Wayang kulit performance
BYRNE: As Bali’s shadow puppeteers tell the story the demons have destroyed the forests with anger and uncontrolled emotions. A mother deer turns to save its starving young. The moral for the Balinese is that with love and compassion they can survive the greatest of adversity.
Reporter: Jennifer Byrne
Camera: Geoffrey Lye
Sound: Kate Graham
Research: Renata Gombac
Editor: Garth Thomas
Producer: Trevor Bormann

© 2019 Journeyman Pictures
Journeyman Pictures Ltd. 4-6 High Street, Thames Ditton, Surrey, KT7 0RY, United Kingdom

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