Beware Bali drink dangers

As Indonesia reopens its borders after two years of lockdown, Australians are being warned about the dangers of Bali’s cheap drinks.

Bottles of spirits. Photo: Layla Smith.

With Indonesia experiencing minimal tourism over the lockdown period, many hospitality providers have struggled to make an income. This has sparked new fears that they could turn to selling methanol, a toxic form of alcohol commonly used in fuel and paints.

Colin Ahearn, who advocates for safe drinking in Bali through his social media site, Don’t Drink Spirits in Bali, recently posted a video to remind tourists not to “leave their brain on the plane” when returning to the island.

“For Bali to rebuild, we have to return,” he said.

“I would love to see Bali shine again. Ideally, I want to see people go over there and spend money and support the Balinese.

“But at no point should you do that if you can end up dead on a plane.”

Mr Ahearn has been advocating for safe drinking in Bali since the death of 19-year-old West Australian Liam Davies.

Davies lost his life to methanol poisoning in 2013 while holidaying with mates on Gili Trawangan, a tourist island off the north-west coast of Lombok.

Lhani Davies with a portrait of her late son, Liam Davies. Photo: Layla Smith.

Liam’s mother, Lhani Davies, also warns of the dangers of drinking spirits in Indonesia.

You have to remember you’re a business transaction. You have to be smart.

“Over the years, people have said to me ‘I would be able to smell it. I would taste it. I would’ve known’,” she says.

“But the thing is, you can’t tell. We have all done exactly what Liam did. How are you going to know?”

Bailey Chalmers had methanol poisoning while on a footy trip to Bali in 2019 but has been back twice since, and is looking to return this year. He encourages young Australians to be mindful of the drinks they purchase when on holiday.

Bailey Chalmers at his home in Perth. Photo: Layla Smith.

Chalmers says it is safe to drink beer, wine, or any sealed premix drinks while holidaying in Bali.

“You just can’t have anything made with spirits, like cocktails or free-pour drinks,” he said.

“We’re not trying to stop people from going to Bali, but the risk of getting methanol in your cocktail is not worth it.”

Since Liam’s death, Mrs Davies has set up the LIAM foundation – which stands for ‘Lifesaving Initiative Against Methanol,’ to educate people on the serious effects of drinking arak and illegal spirits in Indonesia.

Categories: General, Health, Travel