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After months of uneasiness, Bali’s Mount Agung is now spewing volcanic ash, prompting hundreds of flight cancellations and leaving thousands of tourists stranded on the island. The airport’s shutdown is now extended for the second day, and there’s no way to know for sure when things will get back to normal. If you find yourself stranded in the area or you know someone who is, read this guide on important things to do for your safety and convenience.
The authorities have designated a radius of 10 km (6 miles) as an exclusion zone. Locals in that area are being evacuated and tourists should keep their distance. The Ngurah Rai International Airport is in the clear, so are nearby neighbourhoods like Kuta, Legian, Seminyak, and Denpasar. Limit your activities and accommodation to those areas for easy access to the airport for when flights are cleared.
If you can’t afford to lose time and wait indefinitely (but can afford to spend more money for alternative flights), there are ways to still make your way home. Depending on your destination, you can probably get a flight out from nearby islands that can be reached by ferry. In fact, the government has provided 100 buses to take stranded tourists from the airport to ferry ports. Tourists from Australia and Singapore can get a direct flight home from Lombok or Surabaya. Travel plans to other countries may not be as straightforward, but not impossible. You can get a connecting flight to your destination from Singapore or Jakarta.
If you’ve decided to hang around until the airport begins operating again, consider equipping yourself with a simple mask or goggles, just in case. Judging by the volcanic activity, an eruption may be imminent. And while the airport is a safe distance away, the air can still be polluted by ashes if a major eruption happens.
There is another option aside from setting up camp at the airport. The Indonesia Hotel and Restaurant Association provides a night’s free stay for tourists affected by the airport’s shutdown. All you have to do is show your travel documents and claim your free stay at any hotel that is a member of the association.
And finally, make sure you stay updated on latest developments. Set up Google Alerts or check the news continually (you can use Google Translate to read timely local news, try detik or kompas) to get important updates so you can act and plan accordingly.