October Bombs Rock Bali
Those who know Bali, know Jimbaran Bay as a mellow, out of the way spot near Uluwatu where kids play soccer on the beach, and fish and lobster lovers go to get good seafood. Jimbaran Bay is a beautiful spot, more popular with tourists than surfers, but those who know Bali were shocked and saddened to hear that Jimbaran Bay was one of the places targeted by terrorists in the bombings of October.
On Saturday, October 1 – almost three years to the week after the October 12, 2002 bombing at the Sari Club killed 200 – three Muslim suicide bombers walked into restaurants at Kuta and Jimbaran Bay. It was dinner time and the restaurants were packed with tourists and locals. Within minutes of each other, all three suicide bombers exploded bombs packed with ball bearings and other shrapnel to inflict maximum damage. Some of the bombings were recorded by video cameras. The final death toll is approaching three dozen, with hundreds injured.
“Think of someone walking into Hussongs Cantina at happy hour and blowing themselves up,” said Kristie Griffith, a southern Californian who spent time in Bali during the winter of 2003/2004.
Two days after the bombings, the island of Bali was still on alert: “There’s still sirens and official vehicles racing by on the highway,” said Jim Reno. “Convoys going by with government officials. They can’t declare Martial Law, but there are security checks everywhere and people leaving the island.” Reno has been coming to Bali since the 1980s. “Where I stay is 12 minutes from Uluwatu and 15 minutes from Nusa Dua.” Reno has seen a lot of change: “To be perfectly honest, all of the main breaks are packed beyond belief with surf schools, beginners, Euros, etc etc. We have to surf onshore spots to get away from the crowds. My buddy has a converted Indo fishing boat that we use for trips to places the mags haven’t yet exposed.”
Jim Reno was hangin out near Jimbaran Bay. He was eating dinner with his family when the explosions happened: “I can see the area from my verandah,” Reno said. “But we didn’t see or hear anything. We were having a quiet dinner. But the person who was very close to it was the Australian (SURFER) photographer, Jason Childs. He stays right there, very close to the outdoor beach cafes.”
In the days after the bombings, Jason Childs was too tired or too busy to communicate, but his photographs of the aftermath of the bombings spoke a million words. Childs was on the beach with a camera minutes after the explosions at Jimbaran Bay and his photos were all over the news and the Internet, made available by Getty Images. The photos show people dead, dying and injured, tables scattered, broken glass out into the sand at the water’s edge.
By October 3, Getty Images ran a photo of a young Japanese girl learning to surf at Jimbaran Bay, squealing as she struggled to her feet. It seemed like the aftermath of the Sumatran tsunami, where tourists were frolicking as the smoke was still settling: “Lots of tourists are leaving as expected,” said Jim Reno. “The local Balinese are of course freaking out, as his goes WAY deeper then what’s seen on the surface. The vibe among the expats is: ‘We are not going to let this bother us.’ It seems business as normal believe it or not. The surf has been good but so crowded, even after the bombing.”
Is Bali safe? No one knows when the next bombing will come. Could be another three years in October 2008, or it could be tomorrow. “This bombing didn’t surprise me and I won’t be surprised if there is another attack,” Jim Reno said. “The government can’t crack down the way they would like, because then they would be accused of being anti-Islam. Since the recent bombings there’s full searches, bomb checks at all shopping malls, big restaurants etc. Security will really be an issue, especially after footage of the bombers walking right into the restaurants.”
Those who know Bali know it is a Hindu island surrounded on all sides by Islam. Those who know the Balinese find it hard to believe that local people would have the evil within them to bomb innocents, including their own people. Those who know Bali believe the evil is coming from outside, from elsewhere: “My good buddy Made owns Cafe Jepun in Sanur,” Jim Reno said. “After the Sari Club bomb, I asked him what will the people do now? He said to me seriously, yet jokingly: ‘We are Balinese. We don’t know how to make bomb. All we know how to do is pray.’“
ON THE BEACH – An Interview With Jason Childs.
Australian photographer Jason Childs stays at Jimbaran Bay and he was on the beach 10 minutes after the bombings. He photographed the scene as some lay dead, others were dying and many hands Balinese and foreign were pitching in to comfort the injured. Childs photographed the aftermath and his photos were featured on Getty Images and seen around the world.
Childs was up without sleep for two days after the attack. SURFERmag.com would like to thank him for taking the time out to respond to some questions sent by email.
SURFERmag.com: After the first Bali bombing at the Sari Club, has there been threat in the air?
Jason Childs: I guess in the back of our minds we always knew there was a chance.
SURFERmag.com:Were you surprised this happened at Jimbaran Bay?
Jason Childs: I think we only imagined it happening at a bar, club or hotel. Not the
SURFERmag.com:Do you live close by?
Jason Childs: My wife and I live 200 meters from where the bombs went off.
SURFERmag.com:Describe where Jimbaran Bay fits in in the surfing world. Do surfers go
there? Any surf nearby?
Jason Childs: Airport reef ( a long peeling right) is one of the best waves on the
island. It’s a beautiful right that gets hollow. But most surfers get the boat
from Kuta reef. The hardcore crew paddle it from Jimbaran beach or us lazy
guys get a boat or use our jetski to get to it. The local kids grow up
here surfing the beachies when the swell is up – sometimes in front of the
cafes that where blown up.
SURFERmag.com:Where were you when the blasts happened? How did you respond?
Jason Childs: We were meant to be there at the time of the explosions, but my friend
sent me an sms from Kuta and said to cancel as he was stuck in traffic in
Kuta. We had a few friends at our house and heard the bombs. We didn’t
know what it was and a few friends ran down to check. They called and told us that it was bombs. I grabbed my cameras while my wife and other friends
grabbed towels and ran to the beach with in 10 minutes of the explosions.
SURFERmag.com:What did you see when you got there?
Jason Childs: We searched the beach for people. We found people severely injured lying
on the sand. We saw people lying dead. All the tourists and workers at the
cafes had run away in fear. Only a few locals who’d heard the explosions
came to look and help. The cafes were empty. Shit blown everywhere. We didn’t think about what were doing. I just did my job as a photog and my wife and friends did everything they could to help the victims. My wife Michelle and friends did an amazing job helping these people. One of the bomb victims died pretty much in their arms. They did everything they could and they still couldn’t save her. Her husband has severely injured and couldn’t see. They comforted these victims till medical help arrived. The locals got in as well and did what they could. No one thought about their own safety. The next day we found out there were 3 more bombs that didn’t go off.
SURFERmag.com: It seems like Indonesians were targeted as much as foreigners. Do you
know anyone who was killed or injured?
Jason Childs: More Indonesians ( domestic tourists) were killed than tourists. Luckily none of my local friends were injured or died.
SURFERmag.com:How long were you on the beach?
Jason Childs: I don’t know. Time stood still. It was surreal . Maybe 10-20 minutes.
SURFERmag.com:How did you know to send the photos to Getty? Did they contact you?
Jason Childs: I have a contract with Getty.
SURFERmag.com:Are you thinking about leaving Bali because of the threat?
Jason Childs: My wife and I love Bali. This is our home. We love Indonesia and the
people. Indonesia has been very good to us. It’s an amazing place to live
and be a photographer and surfer. I have a responsibility to others. The
people who work for me ( I have had the same staff for years, they are my
family). If I leave how will they feed their families? What will they do?
We must do all we can to show the terrorists that they will not break us.
They will not defeat us.
SURFERmag.com: Do you think there will be more bombings?
Jason Childs: This is a crazy world now. Anything can happen any time, anywhere.
SURFERmag.com:Has the threat changed your habits at all?
Jason Childs: We are just wary of big complexes, etc but we must try and get on with our lives as normally as possible. We haven’t really had time to think about it.
SURFERmag.com:Bali Jim said that Bali had been very crowded before the bomb.
Jason Childs: Crowded in the surf and the streets.
SURFERmag.com:Have people cleared out since?
Jason Childs: Some people have left, but many have decided to stay. We won’t know the
full extent for a few weeks or months.
SURFERmag.com:Anything else you want to add about that night or circumstances before
or after appreciated.
Jason Childs: I didn’t sleep for two days. When I did finally sleep I just wanted this t be a nightmare and wake up to find that it didn’t really happen. The Balinese have an interesting way of looking at life. They think that in life you cannot have good without evil. You must only look forward in life, don’t look back wards. We have learnt a lot here about life in our 12 years. Don’t take things for granted. Things might be tough, but there’s always someone much worse off than you. Take only what you need and share what you can with others. When things like this happen we learn to appreciate life. Every minute is precious. I still cannot imagine and believe that another human being could do this to his fellow man.