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Australian Tourist Who Climbed Sacred Tree In Bali Apologizes Before Deportation

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Australian tourist Samuel Lockton was caught climbing a sacred Banyan tree at a temple in Bali. Videos and photos of Lockton climbing the sacred tree went viral on Saturday 11th June. Eye witness accounts stated that he refused to come down from the tree for over half an hour. When he did eventually come down he was taken in for questioning by local police and the community.

Lockton told police that he did not know that the tree was of religious significance and that he did not intend to hurt or offend Balinese people. He claimed that climbing trees was his hobby and that he climbed the tree to make content for his social media.

The banyan tree in question is at the Dalem Dakdakan Temple, Abiantuwung Village, Kediri Tabanan. Lockton is thought to have driven himself there on a rented moped and was not accompanied by a tour guide. Police have confirmed that Lockton entered Bali on a visitor visa on arrival and that he came to Bali for a holiday. 

His vacation is about to be cut short as his case has now been handed over to Denpasar Immigration who is arranging for his deportation back to Australia.On Wednesday 15th June, the Head of the Regional Office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights of Bali Province, Anggiat Napitupulu told local reporters that as for his ‘deportation process, the plan is no later than two days. 

What changed is unclear as initially seemed like the Bali police, immigration, and the community was satisfied with Lockton’s commitment to attend and pay for a cleansing ceremony.

Although Lockton did as he was told, it seems that authorities are not prepared to take the risk of allowing him to continue his stay. During questioning Lockton also admitted to climbing two other trees in the Canggu area. Local reports suggest that although Lockton was told by authorities that he must attend and pay for a cleansing ceremony at Dalem Dakdakan Temple, he wanted to return to the temple to apologize to the community himself.

Photo: Nusa Bali

He is said to have offered IDR 150,00 (USD 10), although there is no set price for a cleansing ritual, people who have been caught up in similar situations before have been able to contribute more.

Village leader I Gusti Ngurah Astawa told local reporters that the community had wanted to conduct the cleaning ritual on Kuningan Day, 18th June, but that police had requested that the ceremony be conducted as soon as possible so as not to delay Lockton’s deportation.

During the ceremony, Lockton wore appropriate clothing, including a sarong and smart shirt. The temple’s priest did not invite Lockton to pray, since he is not Hindu, but did include him in the cleansing ceremony and asked him to ask for forgiveness in alignment with his beliefs. 

Following a series of incidences like this since borders reopened in February, authorities in Bali are cracking down hard on tourists who disrespect Balinese culture. In May authorities in Bali arrested and deported two tourists who had disrespected Balinese culture and outrightly broke Indonesian laws on nudity in public.

Alina Fazleeva was deported after she was caught posing naked in the roots of a sacred Banyan tree on temple grounds. Jeff Craigen from Canada was deported after he posted a video of himself doing the Haka at the summit of Bali’s holy Mount Batur. 

An Estonian model narrowly avoided deportation by taking the opportunity to leave Bali before police were able to call her in for questioning. Valeria Vasilieva was in Bali for the Miss Global beauty pageant when she was pulled over by traffic police and ordered to pay a fine.

Vasilieva then posted a video on her Instagram accusing police in Bali of corruption which caused outrage from authorities and locals. Although she issued an apology she left Bali earlier than planned and local police told reporters that they were exploring options for banning any potential return by Vasilieva.

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Wayan Bo

Friday 17th of June 2022

Just climbing into paradise.


Friday 17th of June 2022

@Wayan Bo, Maybe he will be a monkey in his next life and he was practicing on the beautiful tree. I think it is a shame that every chance Bali Indo Immigrasi get they are kicking people out. This is not right, because there is police corruption, because the Govt no pay the police enough money each month. There is many ppl who do things they do not understand is not acceptable. The tolerance of the Indonesian is short now, they no longer give warning and accept apology, they want almost blood. Allah is watching everything and knows the hearts of men and women. Karma is rich for those who deserve it .


Thursday 16th of June 2022

When cracking down on things against Bali culture, how about do something with the relentless noise everywhere. Loud bikes, nightclubs, bars all the way to midnight and beyond, without any respect for those who prefer to have a quiet peaceful stay, specially the higher paying tourists. Do you think people want to pay thousands of dollars for villas and then listen to someone bang their music all over the neighborhood late at night, or another small minded individual riding their super loud annoying motorcycle up and down the street. No noise isolation, no regulation, no action. Forget the higher paying customers in such cases, you don't provide quality for the asked price.


Sunday 19th of June 2022

@Perhaps, Indeed noise pollution is a major issue. > I (accidentally) rented a villa in an area with a very loud nightclub opening up a few months into the rental -- I figured the club was actually located inside residential zone with music until 5-6am. No matter what agency I complained to no effective action was taken to shut down the place. Lawyer quickly lost interest when I mentioned name of the club. So eventually I moved on, but I can see from google reviews that foreigners are desperate from the noise, but trapped as they paid rent up front. > Significant increase in motorbikes with illegal exhausts. These can wake you up from 200 meter away when racing Jl Bypass and other roads. A major stress factor.

In summary; long term rental and leasing is increasing difficult as the the (financial) investments made by foreigners are not well protected due to lack of law enforcement, particularly if facing local interests.

I therefore minimize my financial commitments at any time, so that I can move on short notice if (unforeseen) issues arise: noise, air pollution, unfriendly neighbours, trash burning, rice field burning, lack of trash collection, lack of security, unreliable electricity etc.


Saturday 18th of June 2022

@Reno Balapa, I have tried 6 different places outside of Kuta (and also lived in Kuta), all the same. Noise noise noise. And if it's quiet today, no guarantee that tomorrow there wouldn't be a loud club or construction or a loud bike owner near by. The thinking that person needs to move each time when someone else is nuisance, is just wrongful thinking. The noise makers are the problem that need to be addressed, not people needing to move somewhere else.

Reno Balapa

Friday 17th of June 2022

@Perhaps, there are plenty of beautiful quiet places to stay. just Keep away from places like Kuta.


Friday 17th of June 2022

@Perhaps, Yes, I agree with you, that why we should request for more religious holidays like Nypei. No noise, just look at the stars in the sky at night and it is so amazing.

Wayan Bo

Thursday 16th of June 2022

Deportation into monkey forest for him.

Karen North

Wednesday 15th of June 2022

How disgraceful offering $10. We looked after 10 families for 2 years of covid, costing 10's of $1,000's. And this boy insults Bali by giving $10 and thinking that would pay for his disrespect. I hope he is banned forever. 0ut that on his Instagram.

Maryanne Lockton

Thursday 23rd of June 2022

@Karen North, do not trust one source for your information alone. I know this man and he actually paid 500 dollars as an apology. Sam was compliant to the authorities and was unaware that tree climbing was forbidden. He made an honest, misadventurous mistake.


Friday 17th of June 2022

@Karen North, everything in life is coming back to the money. Even for climbing a tree. I wonder Ms. North, how many times an Indonesian had put money into your hand other than for return change?