Those of you reading this in Bali probably know what’s going on. If not, perhaps lay off the Arak for a while…
At least 25 people have died in Bali in the past week from a batch of the popular local booze arak, which was found to be contaminated with methanol. Arak, made from fermented rice, palm sap, and corn, is a traditional drink for many Balinese and is often used in religious ceremonies. Since imported alcohol has a 500% tax markup, arak is an ever cheaper than usual alternative for locals and tourists keen to get on it.
Of the 25 deaths four were tourists including an English couple, a Dutchman and a well-known US artist. Dozens more are recovering after being seriously poisoned, and those in Sanglah District Hospital are being further pained by having to share ward-space with convicted bogan drug smuggler Schapelle Corby, who is apparently depressed.
Local officials are warning travellers to steer clear of the arak attacks, and instead get to work on healthier options like jam jars, jungle juice, fish bowls and those plastic yard glasses they give you at the Bounty.*
*Local official Ida Bagus Ngurah Wijaya may actually have said “For the time being I would say only consume alcohol that has been guaranteed by the Government.”