Forget the spying controversy, Australia-Indonesia relations are more people-to-people connections rather than rigid government-to-government relations, as pundits often argue.
Want more proof in the field? Just visit Kuta or Legian in Bali. For most young people in Australia, spending their school holidays in Bali has been their utmost dream.
For many months, they diligently save their pocket money to buy tickets to Bali to spend several weeks on the island.
Last weekend, hundreds of youths from Australia were spotted at the Ground Zero site in Legian to remember Australians who died during the 2002 bombing at the location.
Others walked along Legian’s narrow streets to enjoy the nightlife in the area.
“We were saving hard and working part-time in order to get the money for the year-end holidays,” said Jarrot, who saved A$2,000 (US$1,819) for his holiday in Bali.
Jarrot said he loved the nighttime in Kuta and Legian but also travelled to cultural sites across the island to learn more about Balinese culture and its people.
Paul Mergard from Red Frogs, an Australian non-profit organisation helping youths for the last 17 years, said he was expecting that these Australian teenagers would behave properly while holidaying on the island, especially when relations between the two countries were going through a rocky period.
The Red Frogs’ booth was established near Ground Zero with 31 volunteers ready to help Aussie youths traveling in Bali with cultural and social orientation, medical assistance, general advice and many other things.
In Australia, the Red Frogs actively provide information on Bali, its culture and people to young people in the country and to schools.
“Bali has more than just a glittering night life. The island’s rich culture and tradition and the people are there to be explored deeply in order to increase understanding about different cultures,” he said.