Bali Ha’i or Bali Hai?

Bali Ha'i will whisper
In the wind of the sea:
"Here am I, your special island!
Come to me, come to me!"

Looking at the news, I was interested to see that the recently revived 1949 musical South Pacific has just opened at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco.

The musical is considered one of the greatest in history and several of its songs have become worldwide standards. One of them, of course, is Bali Ha’i, a song which is written about a fictional island with two volcanoes where a certain Lt. Joseph Cable meets Bloody Mary's daughter.

When naming the fictional island I find it hard to believe that the real Bali island in Indonesia didn’t play a part in influencing their decision - even though they claim that the Bali Ha’i island in the film is modeled on the volcanic
island of Aoba in the South Pacific!

Sort of makes you wonder then why they didn’t call the song Aoba Ha’i instead (and at least it would have prevented many Americans from incorrectly believing that the real Bali was in the South Pacific!)

But while the Bali Ha’i song may not have been about the real Bali island, it hasn’t stopped a number of Indonesian businesses from using the song’s name.

Bali Hai, for instance, is a brand of lager beer sold in Indonesia (virtually indistinguishable from good old Bintang IMO, but this couple didn’t like it) and, strangely enough, very very difficult to find.

And a bit bizarrely this, one of Indonesia’s big clove cigarette producers, Djarum, actually has the nerve to sell a cigarette brand called Bali Hai! I’ve never come across it in Indonesia, so I assume it’s mainly exported – but perhaps not very much longer to the US (*)

And if you ever want to get to the wonderful Lembongan island which lies just east of Bali you may want to use the services of
Bali Hai Cruises.

So nope it ain’t only Malaysia which “takes” other country’s creations. But then again – as the companies above might tell you - why not eh?

Djarum are currently engaged in a fascinating tussle with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) who recently outlawed the sale of Indonesia’s legendary clove cigarettes in the US.


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