Indonesia is not the first place that comes to mind when one thinks of drinking culture. Considering the country is the world’s most populous Muslim nation, a religion well-known for its temperance, visitors coming to Indonesia are probably not looking to get wasted as their first order of business.
But considering the increasingly modern fabric of this southeast Asian nation, it’s probably not surprising to discover that its citizens do happen to enjoy a tipple every now and then. Yet that is exactly the problem these days – in the country’s capital of Jakarta and in tourist hot spots like Bali, they’ve been experiencing a chronic shortage of alcohol – a problem that has been affecting Indonesians and tourists nationwide.
According to a recent article from the BBC, a recent anti-corruption drive has left the typically thriving market in black market liquor sales bone dry. leaving only a single licensed distributor to deal with an onslaught of demand nationwide.. Locals have argued that the problems caused by the shortage have been limited largely to international hotels and tourist regions like Bali – locations where foreigners tend to congregate.
So what then, some might say, if some drunk tourist can’t grab their tumbler of Glenlivet in a Muslim country? They should be respecting the norms of the culture they’re visiting right? That’s not entirely the case – many hotel managers argue that the ban has affected ordinary Indonesian citizens as well, who are having trouble enjoying a drink at their favorite nightspots as well.
It’s an interesting contradiction in a country facing the conflicting forces of traditional muslim culture and modernization. Perhaps, in fact, the type of open free-flowing discussion that can only happen over a good drink. Here’s hoping the citizens and tourists of Indonesia can work this one out like adults.