Getting a deportation stamp in your passport shouldn’t be on anyone’s travel bucket list.
However, there are plenty of people who visit Bali, the Island of the Gods, who seem to take it as a challenge to get flown off the island.
Immigration law in Indonesia is rather fluid and if it seems like you’ve upset Indonesians with your actions, you’re off to immigration detention until you can fund your flight home. You don’t need to have broken the law and might not realise your actions are even offensive at the time.
We counsel all expats and tourists to Bali and Indonesia to respect the culture and the people. It’s not a playground – this country is steeping in religion and a conservative way of life.
Some things, like buying and selling drugs or overstaying a visa are obvious reasons to get removed from Bali. Other reasons aren’t so obvious, so with that, here are some of the most notable stories of poorly behaved foreigners getting the boot from the Island of the Gods.
Drive a motorbike into the ocean
In December 2019, Russian influencer Sergey Kosenko went viral with a video of him driving a motorbike off Tanah Anpo Harbor, Karangasem. While this wasn’t the direct cause of his deportation in January 2021, it definitely put him on the radar of immigration officials.
He was eventually removed from the country for violating COVID-19 protocols by hosting a house party in the Bandung area of the island. He posted multiple photos on Instagram with people not wearing masks and not keeping a social distance.
Immigration went a step further and said he was also conducting business activities that weren’t in line with his visa.
“Sergey Kosenko has carried out activities such as being an ambassador representing the activities of a certain company, inviting investors, and becoming a marketing person by promoting the products of a certain company,” Head of Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights Bali, Jamaruli Manihuruk said at the time.
The lesson here? Don’t draw attention to yourself with stunts – immigration will be watching.
Wear a fake facemask in a pandemic
A pair of social media influencers thought it would make for interesting content to try and subvert face mask protocols in April 2021. Taiwanese-American Josh Paler Lin and Russian Leia Se’s prank didn’t go down as well as they expected.
They variously tried to enter supermarkets in the Kuta area using a bra, a sock, and then a painted-on face mask at the height of pandemic restrictions. While most people in Bali were trying to get through the tough times, the joke didn’t land well.
Humour doesn’t always translate well so be careful about what you think could be a prank.
Fake your COVID documents
The pandemic really was a learning curve for the foreigners who got stuck in Bali about how to get deported.
Rules changed often and while you might be forgiven for having the wrong type of test – and sent to the nearest testing site for a new one – dodgy documents weren’t being taken lightly.
A Ukrainian and Russian couple – Olena Mukh D Mitrii Anokh – were caught arriving at Pandang Bai harbour with falsified PCR test results in March 2021. Due to the seriousness of their violation, the pair spent six months in Balinese prison before their deportation in October of the same year.
Faking any official document really isn’t worth the risk.
Get naked on a mountain
As COVID restrictions eased and foreigners began to return at the start of 2022, so did the strange social media stunts.
Canadian Jeffrey Douglas Craigen decided it would be fun to hike up Mount Batur, get naked, and do a little dance – all filmed and uploaded to social media. This is Bali in the era of Insta and TikTok, after all.
His passport was at immigration at the time, awaiting a visa extension. His sponsor was traced and Craigen was found, detained for 14 days, and removed from Bali in May 2022.
Mount Batur, along with plenty of other spots on the island and across the archipelago, are considered holy to the local people. Get naked and be disrespectful at your peril.
Get naked on a holy tree
Why do people feel the urge to strip down in Bali? Yes, it’s a spiritual and holy place, but you can experience that with your pants on while you’re in public.
Alina Fazleeva is a Russian influencer who couldn’t help but go nude for a photo shoot at Babakan Temple, Tua Village. The photo soon went viral and caught the attention of Indonesian netizens who weren’t happy with her disrespectful act.
Days later, she returned to perform an apology ritual. At the same time, temple authorities went to the local police who met her and her husband straight after the ceremony and arrested them.
Deportation of the pair followed in May 2022. When you go to a temple, keep your pants on, please.
Host a sex party
Attitudes towards sex and pornography are generally liberal and open in Europe. The same can’t always be said for Indonesia, where pornography remains illegal.
A group of Europeans hosted a sex party at a Canggu villa. No one would have minded if they hadn’t uploaded it to social media.
The four people were the subject of a manhunt by the legal authorities. Breaking the law is definitely a deportable reason, but they were also set to face legal sanctions.
The video and the investigation went viral in June 2021. The police and immigration authorities haven’t given a public update on the case since. Did the frisky foreigners do a bunk before their identities could be revealed? We may never know, but now you know not to publish porn in Bali.
Run a tantric sex workshop
Tantra and tantric sex have been integral to Hinduism for thousands of years. Bali may be a majority Hindu island, but tantra isn’t something that’s welcome to be discussed in public, it seems.
Christopher Kyle Martin from Canada was set to host a Tantric Full Body Orgasm class for €20. The class was set to be run in-person and online, that is until immigration caught on to his sexy classes.
“It can be concluded that Christopher Kyle Martin, while in Indonesia, particularly Bali, did not respect Balinese customs and culture,” said the Head of the Regional Office of the Law and Human Rights Ministry in Bali.
Keeping your sex to yourself is the way forward if you want to stay in Bali, it seems.
Go on a magic mushroom-filled rampage
We all know drugs are illegal in Indonesia. “Face the death penalty” kind of illegal, so it’s not something to mess with and you’re all but guaranteed deportation. After a long stay at Hotel K – the affectionate name given to the prison in Kerobokan, Bali.
One Russian was caught under the influence of substances in a rather unfortunate way. After overindulging on magic mushrooms in Gili T, he went on a psychedelic rampage and wound up in a mental health unit in Lombok.
Probably not the trip he was hoping for.
The man was detained in August 2022 and at the time of going to press was awaiting his next trip -home to Russia.
Teach people how to get around visa rules
We all know that you can’t earn money in Bali on a tourist visa. It should also be common sense that publicising workarounds for getting into the country when it was faced with sky-high numbers and oxygen shortages probably isn’t a way to endear yourself to the locals.
Kristen Gray decided that she would tell the world how easy it was to get to Bali during the pandemic, even charging $50 a pop for a Skype consultation about how to do it.
Her comments about the island being queer-friendly got people’s backs up. It’s not that LGBTQ+ people aren’t welcome, it’s that people in Bali would rather not have the island promoted in that way.
Gray was deported back in January 2021.
Avoiding deportation in Bali
Reading these stories, you’ll see there is a general theme – be respectful. If you don’t know what the rules are about being polite and inoffensive in Bali, you really should ask someone.
In general, don’t get naked, don’t publish videos of you having sex, don’t joke about the pandemic, and don’t get caught making money off your time on the island.