A concerning trend has been doing the rounds on social media. Tourists in popular vacation destinations in Bali have been drinking the tap water in a bid to ‘build up immunity’, which can result in seriously dangerous results. In areas like Canggu, Kuta, Denpasar, Seminyak, and Sanur, local residents don’t even drink tap water because it is considered unsafe.
The trend caught the attention of a long-term expat living in Bali who has issued a warning to tourists tempted to try drinking the tap water and an explanation as to why it is possible to drink directly from the tap in some parts of the island.
The first video of this trend was posted in October 2022. TikTok user @MulletMax_ posted a series of videos of himself drinking tap water and even pool water to ‘strengthen my immune system’. His posts were met with horrified comments from both local people and people who had traveled to Bali. One commenter wrote, “brooo I’m Indonesian, and I don’t dare drink them.” Another wrote, “I hope you’re joking bcs we locals don’t even drink the tap water bcs it’s not safe for drinking, lol”.
@mulletmax_ Drank a lot of sea water today surfing, so double the intake 💪🏻 *Im a train proffesional tap water drinker! Pls dont try this at home* #bali #indonesia #fyp #challenge #tapwater #dumbforeigner #travel #travelling #backpacker ♬ original sound – Max Jensen
It doesn’t appear that he got ill, at least he didn’t post about it if he did. But another video has surfaced online of another TikToker who drank tap water in Bali and has admitted how ill it made her. TikTok travel influencer @atasiaraetravels posted a video on her account of her shaking her head in her hands. The video is accompanied by the caption, “POV: you posted a tik Tok bragging about how you’re immune from Bali Belly and ever since you’ve been dying a slow and painful death from it. Okay universe my bad”.
One concerned follower commented, “oh nooo you jinxed it” to which Anastasia replied, “I feel so awful, started antibiotics today so hopefully start feeling better soon.”
@stasiaraetravels Currently 🤢💩😂😭 #ballybelly #sickinbali #baliindonesia #traveltok #sendhelp ♬ original sound – Lilliana 🎧
The trend caught the attention of Bali ex-pat Tris Weatherburn who lives further north in Bali in a village in the jungle. He has shared a couple of videos explaining why it’s simply not worth the risk of trying to drink tap water in Bali unless it’s certain the water is safe to drink. That in this instance, there isn’t such a thing as building up immunity.
@trisweatherburn How to drink Bali water in Bali without getting Bali belly. #balilife #baliindonesia #baliwater #balibelly #balijungle #junglelife #fyp ♬ original sound – Tris
In his explainer video, which now has more than 4 million views, Weatherburn drinks a glass of water filled directly from the tap in his kitchen. He says,”The reason I can drink Bali water and you cannot is because I’m not in Canggu, I’m not in Seminyak, I’m not in Kuta, I’m not even in Sanur or Ubud. I’m up in the jungle…I drink out of the tap up here. And the reason I can do that is that I’m one minute away from rainforest and that the water delivered here comes through a tiny plastic pipe which constantly leaks water, rainwater.’
He continued, “The water here is fresher than in your country. Down there is Canggu with the Instagram models and lip fillers, Seminyak, which is a holiday area, and Kuta, which is the Australian bogan drunk area…Down there, the water is very bad for you.”
The topic of so-called ‘Bali Belly’ has also been bought up online in other contexts recently. The TikTok travel influencer known as @ThatBaliBitch has posted a series of her top travel tips for Bali. In the videos, she has also highlighted to newcomers to Bali that drinking tap water is not advised.
She’s also called out the fact that calling the bacterial or viral infections that cause sickness and diarrhea’ Bali Belly’ is disrespectful. Noting that if travelers got sick in London due to food poisoning, they wouldn’t refer to it as London Lava. While it’s become a common phrase to refer to Bali Belly or even Delhi Belly in India, there is often a bias in the way food poisoning or parasites are referred to by travelers in different countries.
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