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Tuesday, 22 October, 2002, 11:25 GMT 12:25 UK
Reluctant goodbye to troubled Bali
Bali airport
Many are heeding warnings to leave Bali

Outside Bali's international airport, we waited in two long lines in the sticky heat, along with hundreds of other foreigners, to pass newly imposed security checks.

The attacks, of course, overshadowed just about everything we did in Bali

Like us, many in the queues had had their holidays cut short following the horrific attack in Kuta and subsequent warnings for tourists to leave the island.

We were leaving Bali reluctantly, but felt we had no choice after the UK Foreign Office advised all Britons to go, and warned those planning to stay of the dangers of visiting tourist haunts.

To us, this suddenly made the threat more real than it had been in the immediate aftermath of the bombings.

Trips that we had been happy to make around the island now seemed foolhardy, even though we still felt it was highly unlikely that there would be another incident.

Mixed memories

A terror attack was the last thing we had anticipated when we booked our holiday to Bali, a place singled out in Indonesia for its peace and tranquillity.

The island seemed a good place to escape to, leaving behind the stress of living and working in London.

Hotel pool in Bali
Bali's tranquil image has been shattered
The terror attacks changed all that.

But even after the bombing in Kuta, we tried to make the best of the situation by doing "holiday" things.

At the back of our minds, however, lingered memories of the devastation we had seen in Kuta, the stories of those who had survived, and the tragedy of the many who had not.

'Why Bali?'

The attacks, of course, overshadowed just about everything we did in Bali.

Whenever we met any Balinese, it was the first thing they talked about.

They said they could not understand what had happened on their island, and would repeatedly ask: "Why Bali?"

Another frequent refrain was: "Please tell people it's OK to return to Bali."

Back in London, we have many fond memories of the Balinese who went out of their way to help us and make our time there as pleasant as possible.

Uncertain times

Arriving at Gatwick Airport after a 17-hour flight, it was a shock to be greeted by heavily armed police as soon as we emerged from the plane.

They were checking passengers' passports and asking if anyone had any "significant information" to help police in their investigation.

We have returned now to the relative certainty of the day job and the wet British weather.

But what is much less certain is what will become of the Balinese who depend on the tourists who have been fleeing their island and may not return.


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See also:

21 Oct 02 | Politics
17 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
13 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
20 Oct 02 | Asia-Pacific
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