Bali, Indonesia – October 4, 2017

On the nightlife strips in Bali, the advertisements for alcoholic drinks seem unbelievable. Ads pushing Vodka and Coke for the equivalent of $1.10USD, free cocktails for ladies and 2 for the price of one drinks. They seem unbelievable because they are not true. Bali, and the rest of Indonesia is plagued by fake alcohol. Indonesia is a country where the alcohol tax is 150%. The cheap drinks that are advertised and hawked on the beaches are made with fake alcohol.

In Bali and other parts of Indonesia, the bootleg liquor is called arak. It is crudely produced using coconut palm, sugarcane and rice. These ingredients if properly distilled would produce a liquor that was safe to drink. However, with the primitive methods and quick fermentation that is used by the alcohol pirates, these mixtures contain methanol alcohol, a deadly, non-consumable form of alcohol. As little as 30 ml of methanol can be a killer, and daily consumption of as little as 4ml can cause blindness, kidney distress, liver damage and nervous system damage.

Countries that rely on tourism to bring in hard currency to the Nation are hesitant to publicize or tackle the problem of fake alcohol. Indonesia with its beautiful getaways and busy tourist economy has limited enforcement efforts against fake alcohol and tries to publicize as little as possible. Although Indonesia is a Country where the penalties are severe for the counterfeit alcohol producers when apprehended, it is a country where money can make the authorities turn a blind eye to enforcement. Visitors to the tourist destinations of Indonesia should be aware that cheap drinks are not just cheap, but likely dangerous.

Fake 'Arak' liquor has been killing in Indonesia Click to Tweet

The Centre for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS) in an examination of the restrictions on alcohol and the spate of deaths from illegal alcohol concluded that the restrictions and high taxes were a failure because they fostered a more vibrant black market that has led to a substantial increase of deaths from fake alcohol. In the report CIPS quotes the official death toll from illegal alcohol poisoning at 487 people from 2013 -2016 a 226% increase from the 2008-2012 figures. The CIPS policy paper on illegal alcohol was written in reaction to the government ban on alcohol for locals, but it also affects tourists who are the major consumers of alcoholic beverages in this tourist mecca. Tourist deaths are included in these figures; however, they are most likely underreported. When a tourist presents at a hospital for alcohol poising, it is usually attributed to binge drinking, not poisoning from fake alcohol which is usually the real cause.

Tourist to the beautiful Islands of Indonesia must be aware of these horrifying statistics, many have died from methanol poisoning while on holiday is these idyllic islands. Tourist are advised to use every precaution when consuming alcohol at these tourist meccas, and to be aware that a drink for $1.10USD, free drinks and 2 for 1 specials are highly suspect and likely fake alcohol.

In a country like Indonesia where it is beneficial to the tourist industry to hide the dangers of poison alcohol production it is essential to publicize the establishments that are serving these deadly concoctions.

Please report any illegal alcohol activity to so that others can be aware of places to avoid and return from their holiday safe.

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