Australians Bail on Bali

Thousands of Aussie surfers cancel their flights to Indo after news of possible booze ban

Does surfing flawless Indonesian waves like these, without any booze in sight, sound fun to you? Many Australians aren't so sure. Photo: Childs
Does surfing flawless Indonesian waves like these, without any booze in sight, sound fun to you? Many Australians aren’t so sure. Photo: Childs

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA—According to airline representatives, thousands of disgruntled Australian surfers from Noosa to Perth cancelled their flight reservations to Bali following the recently proposed bill that, if passed, would ban the distribution and consumption of beverages containing more than one percent alcohol throughout Indonesia.

“Last week was a dog’s breakfast,” said Melbourne-based Jetstar Airways customer service representative Sheila Green. “Our phone lines were ringing off the hook. Some people were absolutely irate, others were even crying. They all wanted their money back, which is totally understandable to everyone here at Jetstar. I mean, what are people supposed to drink over there? Juice? Water? For f–k’s sake….”

The employees at Virgin Australia had similar issues with flight cancellations. “It’s the surfers who are especially disheartened by this proposal,” said John Smitho, lead VA reservation agent and a surfer himself. “I received one call from a Coolangatta man who really made me choke back a few tears. He told me, ‘Look mate, surfing the world’s best waves in Indo is great—I love to get shacked off my nut. But is it really worth the effort if I can’t grab a tinnie and get legless on the beach afterwards?’ To be honest, I told the guy I don’t think it is worth it,” explained Smitho, shaking his head and reaching for a tissue box.

The proposal has yet to be approved, but still, the very idea of a dry Bali has shattered consumer confidence among Australian surfers. “If I can’t spend my money getting maggot in Bali after a surf, I’ll just use it at a bottle-o after surfing the ol’ local,” said 29-year-old Bondi native Joel “Tingo” Taylor, who cancelled his flight and hotel reservations for a two-week stay in Bali as soon as he heard news of the proposal. “If I have to choose between perfect waves and virgin mojitos or staying home to surf closed-out beachies, I’ll gladly take the latter.”

Still other Australians have remained optimistic. “I’ve decided to keep my flight to Bali,” said goofyfooted Perth resident Jack Anderson. “My plan is to get off my face on those little bottles of Baileys on the flight over, surf for a day, then catch the evening flight back home. No sense in hangin’ round if you can’t skull a beer or two in the arvo.”

How this will all play out remains to be seen. Will Bali cease to be the Mexico of Australia? Will overcrowded lineups slenderize? Will an underground network of speakeasies open up in Kuta? Only time will tell.


[Editor’s note: “Corndogging” is a satirical column in which we take serious surf issues, dunk ’em in the ocean, and roll them around in the sand for awhile.]

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