Monday, 5 May 2014

Hotel K: The Shocking Inside Story of Bali's Most Notorious Jail: Kathryn Bonella (Indonesia)

Welcome to Hotel Kerobokan, or Hotel K, Bali's most notorious jail. Its walls touch paradise: sparkling oceans, surf beaches and palm trees on one side, while on the other it's a dark, bizarre and truly frightening underworld of sex, drugs, violence and squalor. Hotel K's filthy and disease ridden cells have been home to the infamous and the tragic: a Balinese King, Gordon Ramsay's brother, Muslim terror bombers, beautiful women tourists and surfers from across the globe. Petty thieves share cells with killers, rapists, and gangsters. Hardened drug traffickers sleep alongside unlucky tourists, who've seen their holiday turn from paradise to hell over one ecstasy pill. Hotel K is the shocking inside story of the jail and its inmates, revealing the wild 'sex nights' organised by corrupt guards for the prisoners who have cash to pay, the jail's ecstasy factory, the killings made to look like suicides, the days out at the beach, the escapes and the corruption that means anything is for sale - including a fully catered Italian jail wedding, or a luxury cell upgrade with a Bose sound system. The truth about the dark heart of Bali explodes off the page.

This book, the 2nd non fiction offering I have read in a row is an expose of the corruption that exists not just within Bali's most notorious jail, but also within the Indonesian legal system itself, where money can pay for shorter sentences and many privileges once inside, such as sexual favours, drugs often bought from the wardens themselves, cell upgrades and in some cases, the freedom to come and go quite literally as one pleases.

I have read some pretty heavy stuff in my time, but even this shocked me. Written from the perspective of the prisoners themselves, who come from all four corners of the world, I would almost rather be dead than face life in a place like this, indeed at least one prisoner says this herself. This may be a harrowing read, and not for the faint hearted, but I would easily give this four stars.

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