from THE JAKARTA POST -- THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 2009 The lush green Bali of travel brochures has a cruel flipside - over the province's mountain range to the north lies some of the driest wastelands imaginable. In this environment the local people literally scratch out a living on soils barren of water.
Few people ever visit these regions that are poor not just in terms of water and soil nutrients, but also in schools, healthcare and employment.
It is from one of these arid zones, Muntigunung, that many of Bali's beggars come.
On any day you will meet impoverished women and their children "begging for a crust of bread and such" on the streets of Bali's wealthy southeast tourist zones.
Their gaunt faces and eyes lowered with the humiliation of begging, contrast cruelly against a backdrop of up-market shops laden with expensive goods, people passing by with enough money in their pockets to cover education costs for a year, money that will instead be spent in one evening …