04 June 2009

Arak, Bali, and Death

Arak (photo courtesy of here - this is not the nasty stuff that is described later) is a bit of a local tradition in Bali, as it is in many places throughout Indonesia. Arak is a locally fermented spirit, which in the opinion of this author is good enough to run your car on, and is quite often outside of the quality assurance checks that most other producers are required to comply with. Needless to say, as happens all over the world, in order to make things go a little further and to ratchet up the profits some unscrupulous producers add all sorts of nasty stuff to their brews.

In this case, and after some 25 deaths, tourists are being warned not to drink arak from unlabelled bottles or roadside stalls. Hopefully, the authorities are also warning Balinese not to drink arak either. It seems that a local batch of arak has been mixed with methanol. Four foreigners have succumbed to the poison and died while 21 locals have also been hospitalized.

The police have managed to catch the culprit / producer and are now doing the investigation. The investigation is supposedly to determine whether the methanol was deliberately added or it got into the batch accidentally. I am not sure how you accidentally get something like methanol into a batch of arak, especially so when one considers that methanol is generally used in anti-freeze among other things.

So, I guess the best advice to locals and tourists is to avoid arak and go with spirits, local or imported that come from labelled bottles. Although, not wanting to be a party pooper, I am pretty sure that it would not be hard to whack some homemade brew into a labelled bottle.



Jakartass said...

Could this be a consequence of that ridiculous 500% tax on imported booze which has seen the disappearance of 'quality' spirits?

BTW. There are very few imported foodstuffs either, and if Blue Band 'axle grease' is the only choice, then there'll be no more toast and marmalade in Jakartass Towers.

Rob Baiton said...


If I am not mistaken the quality spirits problem has not been a problem since the beginning of the year. So, I am guessing that they are not related.

I just think it is a couple of fellas looking to widen their profit margins and for some reason went with methanol instead of water.

As a matter of interest, what do you use in preference to Blue Band? Never tried the stuff myself in all my years "in country".

Jakartass said...

I always use(d) Meadowlea or a brand made with sunflower oil (unsaturated - chloresterol free). Expensive, but I rarely have breakfast anyway.

Rob Baiton said...


Meadowlea man myself as a matter of fact.

Slightly off topic. I remember you saying something about the Manohara post you did providing a spike to your visit stats. I noticed the same thing for the first post that I did on her.

My visit stats spike to about five times their normal level. However, subsequent posts on her have had no impact at all. Weird.

treespotter said...

i guess manohara doesn't like me much since her magic doesn't work.

"Lego Dildo" gets more traffic on my site.

as for this margarine talk, i think you two grownups should keep such conversation private. I prefer Vaseline myself but don't use it as much, really.

Jakartass, try the Ranch Market, plenty imported stuff there. Even Vaseline.

Jakartass said...

Now why should I want, or need, Vaseline, Tree?

Rob Baiton said...


It seems like someone is not enjoying their current location and perhaps is a little bored? :D

I thought about producing a post on Lego Dildos. But, after having thought about it for a while I decided seeing I didn't have any experience with dildos in general and lego dildos in particular, I would stick to what I know.

On the margarine front. I am intrigued that you have tried margarine and prefer vaseline, but I am definitely not inspired by your experiences! :D


Maybe it is that Freudian thing. You know, the one where you project your own needs onto someone else.

Just kidding! I am guessing that Tree is not enjoying his current surrounds as much as he needs to and felt the need to take the piss.

treespotter said...

When i retold this thread on Twitter, someone actually suggested olive oil - a girl.

I'm not sure what it is with girls and food products.

BTW, i twittered this thread cause i thought it might be of interest to some, did it get a traffic spike?

I figure if we've a post with Manohara Pinot and olive oil and dildos it could probably spike up some serious interest.

and ah, yes, this whole traveling thing isn't doing me any good. Singapore was doing my head in but i am now glad out i got out.

Also, Jakartass, the duty free is available right? Even Indonesians can go there?

Rob Baiton said...


Olive oil sounds healthy!

Nope. No noticeable spike in traffic.

Maybe I will need to make the post on olive oil, dildos, and Manohara (just to see what happens, of course!).

Jakartass said...

Since when did duty free shops stock margarine, Tree?

Next time you're in Singapore, perhaps you could stock up on some and sell it on the black market.

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