Kristen Gray, an American with Twitter account @kristentootie, has sparked a heated debate after making a thread about her “new life” on the island of Bali.
The thread, written by Gray, tells of her experience with her girlfriend, who for the past year has been enjoying life in Bali.
“Moving out of America in my 20s has been a game-changer. I’ve been living in Bali, Indonesia for over a year with my girlfriend. A thread,” Gray wrote starting her Tweet stream.
She then shared her experience of going to Bali after losing her job in 2019. Initially, they tried to stay in Bali for six months and make money as graphic designers.
“I was broke, struggled to find work through the entire year of 2019 and I wanted to take a stab at entrepreneurship. I also want to get out of survival mode and tap into how I can THRIVE,” she tweeted.
Gray said living in Bali is extraordinary because the living costs are so cheap. She also wrote comparisons of rental costs. In Bali, she only needs to pay US$400 (around Rp5.6 million) for a luxury house. Meanwhile, while living in LA, she was paying US$1,300 or around Rp18.3 million to rent an apartment.
Gray also feels happy living in Bali because she can live a “better lifestyle” and calls Bali the “perfect medicine” for her physical and emotional health.
“When I think about it, it was super clear that the move was intuitive. Bali is where I was supposed to be through it all. There was an energy about the states that I had to take a break from. Bali was the perfect medicine,” she tweeted.
Especially since the pandemic hit Indonesia in March 2020, Gray and her girlfriend decided to stay longer in Bali while waiting for the pandemic to subside. Gray then explained a series of advantages of living in Bali, including safety, low costs of living, a luxurious lifestyle, being LGBT-friendly, and the presence of a black community.
To conclude her thread, Gray promoted her e-book “Our Bali Life is Yours” which helps others achieve the same dreams. The book is sold for US$30 or around Rp400,000.
Indonesian Citizen Wrath
What caused debate from many parties, especially Indonesian citizens is Gray’s discussion of a special visa agent and claimed they have tricks on how to enter Indonesia during the COVID-19 pandemic, despite Bali currently being under social restrictions.
“We have included a direct link to our visa agent and how to enter Indonesia during COVID-19. It’s also for anyone who wants a change of pace,” tweeted Gray.
There were mixed reactions from netizens. Most of them highlighted the impact that these tweets have had.
Some accounts that support Gray claim that the negative reaction is due to racism against her. However, those opposing her thread are worried that more and more foreign tourists will enter Indonesia illegally and stay without paying taxes.
“Indonesians don’t hate you @kristentootie as a black or gay person. But you are living in Bali illegally on an expired visa, also don’t pay taxes, and are still trying to make money selling guides on how to move (to Bali) and encouraging travel during the pandemic,” tweeted @permadiaktivis1.
“If they think we hate because they are black: Say back in June 2020 we were also “angry” nationwide that some white people had the courage to hold mass yoga events amid the pandemic. We succeeded in deporting the organisers too,” wrote @shandya.
Even a few Twitter accounts linked @ Kristen.Gray’s tweet to the @ditjenimigration and tax office accounts.
“The admin responds to @ditjen_imigration reports. Hopefully, if enforcement is necessary, it will be dealt with accordingly. Not discrimination, but law enforcement,” tweeted @BetterWithBill.
After the story exploded and caused debate in various circles, Gray immediately deleted the thread and locked her Twitter account.
Until now, there has been no official statement from the Directorate General of Immigration and the Directorate General of Taxes regarding the reports against Gray.