Bali is known as one of the safest and most enjoyable places in the world to kick back, relax and have fun in the sun.
The destination is known for its world-class party scene, incredible beach clubs, and five-star hotel resorts. But there is a little-known and potentially deadly danger that tourists must be made more aware of.
Tragically every year in Bali, tourists are hospitalized as a result of methanol poisoning during their vacation on the Island of the Gods.
There have been many anecdotal cases of methanol poisoning this year, and in a deadly sad turn of events, tourists and ex-pats have even died after drinking what they were told or believed to be safe alcohol.
Much like the black henna warnings for children on Bali’s beaches, stories of methanol poisoning come to light every few months.
While for many Bali lovers and frequent visitors to the island, the guidelines about what is and isn’t safe to drink don’t come as news, the reality is the majority of tourists to Bali still don’t know the dangers of drinking spirits or hard liquor on the island.
Until the circulation of poisonous drinks is eliminated or until all tourists know about the risk of methanol poisoning, these stories must keep being shared.
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Well-known alcohol safety advocate Colin Ahearn, who runs a social media page called ‘Just Don’t Drink Spirits In Bali,’ has shared the story of a tourist from New Zealand who was hospitalized over the weekend with suspected methanol poisoning.
Ahearn is a passionate campaigner working to raise awareness of the risks of methanol poisoning in Bali and has been on hand to support travelers and their families when reports of poisonings come to light.
The most recent victim is suspected of experiencing near-deadly methanol poisoning from consuming suspected tainted alcohol. Ahearn has said that the man ordered drinks at a ‘reputable venue.’
@tee.a.gardner I mean this with no disrespect, just educational purposes for those travelling into Bali and looking at partying which is one of the most popular things to do here. Be aware of these things and have a good time 💙 #bali #thingstodoinbali #partyinbali ♬ original sound – Tee | Bali | Real-life
In a post on the Just Don’t Drink Spirits In Bali, Ahearn outlined the ordeal to help other tourists know the signs of methanol poisoning. The post opens with “good old Canggu strikes again.”
Ahearn wrote “I woke up Saturday morning to a message from a pretty distressed New Zealand couple. The young lady that messaged was beside herself with worry. Hubby had been at, wait for it, a 5-star venue (should be and are safe are 2 different expectations). The old mate went there for about 4 hours with other friends.”
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The public awareness campaigner went on to describe how at around 8pm, the victim quickly started to show symptoms of methanol poisoning, including vomiting, difficulty breathing, and convulsing.
Shortly after the onset of symptoms, things started “going south and fast”. The tourist started to become incoherent in his demeanor, had severe abdominal pain, and had rapid and erratic breathing.
One of the most scary aspects to methanol poisoning is that it is almost impossible to taste the tainted alcohol, making victims totally unaware until it’s too late.
According to Ahearn, the victim’s partner struggled to find reliable and clear information about what to or where to go. Ahern says the tourist has ‘turned a corner’ but that the situation should never have happened in the first place.
In his post, Ahearn shared his practical and down-to-earth advice for keeping safe if choosing to drink alcohol in Bali. He wrote, “Don’t drink anything that gets free poured from a bottle behind a bar. Cocktails, shots, simple vodka, and coke, any spirit that is poured from a bottle and mixer added, just NO.”
In September 2022, Ahearn and the Just Don’t Drink Spirits In Bali played a pivotal role in saving the life of a German tourist who was struck by methanol poisoning while drinking in Gili Islands.
Ahearn’s cautions come with a call for reflection. He wrote, “Millions of drinks get poured in Bali every month, it’s a small chance you will get got, but somehow I only get to hear from some of the people that do get poisoned, that gets scary sick, thinking they are gonna die. Not one person ever says they are gonna do it again.”
His advice concludes, “Drink smart, drink safe. Live to have a ball in Bali. The place is too nice to ruin your holiday because of a lack of judgment and a silly decision on what to drink.”
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