Bali alcohol warning from travel insurer

A Balinese dancer performs during a cremation ceremony at a beach in Bali. Photo / AP
A Balinese dancer performs during a cremation ceremony at a beach in Bali. Photo / AP

A travel insurer has warned tourists about the risk of being poisoned by locally made alcohol in Bali.

Travel Insurance Direct Online's Phil Sylvester says the local drink arak is a real danger and has advised Australians not to drink it.

A number of Australians and New Zealanders have suffered methanol poisoning in recent years while visiting Bali.

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New Zealand-born Michael Denton, 29, died in Bali in 2011 after drinking arak while on a rugby tour with his Perth-based club. Perth teenager Liam Davies, 19, died after drinking a methanol-laced cocktail on the Island of Lombok on New Year's Day, 2013.

Arak is a Balinese moonshine traditionally distilled in the island's east and used in religious ceremonies.


Balinese women offer prayers during the Hindu festival of Galungan. Photo / AP

The "tourist invasion of Bali", however, has opened up the market for backyard distillers, said the insurer.

His comments follow the Seven Network documentary What Really Happens In Bali, which aired last night and highlighted the dangers of drinking locally made spirits.

Mr Sylvester said people can be attracted to arak because it can give them a cheap night out with plenty of bang for their buck.

"Producing the spirit is cheap, especially when backyard cowboys with no experience are doing it rather than practised, seasoned old Balinese men," Mr Sylvester said in a statement today.

"And a bar owner concerned only about profit will lace the drinks with the cheaper stuff," he added.

But if arak is poorly made it can be laced with methanol, which can send people blind and lead to death.

The signs of methanol poisoning are difficulty breathing, blurred vision, agitation, dizziness and stomach pain.

- AAP

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