My recent TIME story about crime, trash and traffic on the Indonesian resort island of Bali clearly struck a nerve. A government spokesman called it “harassment.” The chief economics minister saw it as part of an attempt to destabilize the country. The minister of tourism blamed the wind for the dunes of rubbish on Kuta Beach. A few days after my story was published, the Balinese authorities removed 300 cubic meters of trash from the beach. “This is not because of the writings of TIME,” insisted an official.
But my favorite response was an article on a travel website called www.atvisit.com. “Why the Beautiful Kuta Beach Bali to be Dirty With Garbage?” reads the headline. “Kuta beach is one beach which is known by its exotic,” it continues. “But why commencement the period of Dec 2010 to April 2011 there is extravagant increase of trumpery?” It ends with the solemn advice, “Act with for not littering.”
Kuta is not the only beach reviewed by the site. It also considers those of the Bahamas. Xanadu beach is “not uncomfortably huddled,” Mather Town is “an excellent abode for those who savor converging locals,” and Taino offers “all the tralatitious pastimes.” And don’t miss Golden Rock, which boasts “stunning hot sands on the boundary of a spectacularly dismal actress.”
The site belongs to an Indonesian called Herry Hendro. In another era, Hendro’s linguistic exuberance would mark him out as Surabaya’s answer to James Joyce. In fact, he writes in Indonesian and his computer puts it into English. His site demonstrates the limitations—or, if you like, the thrilling possibilities—of Google Translate.
For Hendro doesn’t restrict himself to tropical beaches. Here is his appraisal of the Kendall Hotel near Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “A breakfast strike, wireless internet, and a conceding to FITCORP suitableness edifice use are included with your stick. Additionally, meeting rooms are accessible for your byplay or ethnical events.” The hotel is “utterly situated as a propulsion disc for exploring the area or conducting line in either Beantown or University.”
Hendro also pays tribute to Saltspring Island, in British Columbia, which is famous for its “showy anaesthetic characters” and “the factual, old-fashioned sumptuosity” of its lodgings. But be warned: your voyage from the mainland could be hampered by an “unforesightful shipping fuckup.”