The proposed light rail transit for Bali

Is a railway of any kind feasible on Bali, and thoughts on censorship and self-censorship in Asia.

Greetings from Ho Chi Minh City. I’ve been to Hoi An and Da Nang over the last week and I feel invigorated for having been on the road again. Vietnam has contained the virus with no new local cases for over a month. We are now living inside our own domestic travel bubble until a travel agreement can be made with other countries.

One task I need to do soon is to update the Future Da Nang page. Even though tourism business is down, the construction business is still going on in Da Nang.

Latest posts at Living In Asia

Bali Railway

When I was compiling information for the Future Southeast Asia Map, one of the most unlikely proposals (in my opinion) was the planned Bali railway. There isn’t much information available, so I have made this resource page to bookmark all known resources, and hopefully become a place where people can send more information.

There is definitely a need for a transport solution in Bali. The roads are small and choked with traffic. Where and how to build a railway is the question that hasn’t been answered.

[Bali traffic hell.]

The original plan called for a island circle line and interior railways totalling 560 km.

The most recent proposal is at least more sensible. It begins with a modest 4.78-kilometre light rail from the airport to Kuta (the closest beach area to the airport). From there it could be expanded further along the coast.

As for an inland railway or circular railway, it would be a challenging build.

At the western end of Bali is Gilimanuk, which is where the ferries to Java depart. From Gilimanuk to Kuta Beach is about 120 km. That would be too far for a light rail/metro railway that is being proposed for the beaches.

A north-south inland route would require crossing a volcanic mountain range.

[Image via Wikimedia.]

There is a new airport that has been proposed for North Bali, which would also be a challenging build (I will make a resource sheet for that project). That would require a railway that hugs the east coast to get to the tourism hotspot of the southern beaches.

An urban railway that serves the capital of Denpasar, the beaches, and the airport could work, but I can’t see a trans-island railway.

Here is the post on the proposed Bali Railway.

Censorship and self-censorship in Asia

Last week a news site in Vietnam was fined and suspended for a month for criticizing a Vietnamese property firm regarding the environmental impact of its developments.

This happened to another prominent news site in Vietnam in 2018, who published “untrue” and “nationally divisive” content.

Of course this is not just a problem in Vietnam. In Thailand you have lèse majesté laws which restrict commentary. So for urban development news there is hardly any mention about the renovation and expansion of the Dusit Palace.

In the Philippines, Duterte has been waging a war on local media and shut down ABS-CBN last month. In Singapore they have introduced tough laws on “fake news”. Malaysia blocked the Sarawak Report for reporting on state corruption.

I mention this in relation to what I publish here. For the most part I feel comfortable with writing about bad roads, old railways, and unwalkable footpaths.

The more problematic articles would be criticisms of private mega developments, as the aforementioned news site in Vietnam discovered. I have articles in the draft folder about new urban developments, mainly about bad road designs and ugly buildings. I also have opinions about Sihanoukville that might get me in trouble with the Chinese casino mafia. I know that when I write such articles I have to be thoughtful about how it is written.

The domain and hosting of this site are served in the US, so it can’t be shut down. Being based in the US didn’t stop the editor of environmental news site Mongabay being arrested in 2019. A way around that would be to use the same model as The Economist, where the authors are anonymous.

My editorial is on topics such as what I think an expanded metro system should look like. It’s opinionated but it’s hardly ruffling any feathers. I do think about what I write about though, and sometimes things are left out. That is the reality of writing in Southeast Asia.

When it does come to writing editorial about property developments, I will be posting them in this newsletter. I think that this is another benefit of having this subscriber newsletter behind a paywall where I can post editorial.

Southeast Asia Railways

“Singapore has agreed to Malaysia’s request for a seven-month extension to the High Speed Rail (HSR) project suspension, till year-end.”

“The “Contract 2.3” for the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima high-speed railway between Thailand and China is likely to be signed in October, said Thai Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob on Monday.”

“Japanese trading house Sumitomo Corp. has taken a 19.2% interest in a Philippine rail operator for 6.3 billion yen ($58.5 million), drawn by the prospect of new construction to relieve congestion in the Southeast Asian nation's capital.”

Other News


“The Council for the Development of Cambodia (CDC) granted a business licence to Chinese panel maker Risen Energy (Cambodia) to build a 60 megawatt (mW) solar farm in Battambang province.”

“As Phnom Penh’s landscape has changed beyond recognition in recent years, one hotel has remained a constant feature. As Le Royal traverses its 90th year, Jonathan Evans looks back over the rich but turbulent history of this iconic colonial structure.”



“Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow says the planned expansion of the Penang International Airport (PIA) might be delayed by six months to a year due to the Covid-19 outbreak and faltering airline industry.”


“The Metro Manila subway will now have 17 stations, after the Transportation department decided to expand the original plan to include more stations.

Transportation Assistant Secretary Goddes Hope O. Libiran told BusinessWorld the new stations will be located in East Valenzuela, Lawton, Senate, Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 3 and Bicutan.”

Following up on last weeks newsletter about the New Manila International Airport, the government is planning for an expanded and improved Ninoy Aquino International Airport even though there are two potential new airports in Manila.

“The coronavirus pandemic is giving Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte a reason to reduce overcrowding in Manila, which in recent decades has swelled into one of the most heavily populated areas on Earth.”


“Survey work will soon begin on an ambitious plan to export power from a giant solar farm in Australia to Singapore via a 3,800 kilometre undersea cable.”


“The Cabinet on Tuesday approved a bid by a consortium led by BTS Group Holdings Plc for an airport development project worth 290 billion baht.”

“The first rubber-tired, self-driving electric train is scheduled to arrive in Thailand on June 10 for the Gold Line monorail in Bangkok’s Thonburi.”

“The Muang Ngam seawall scheme features 710 metres of concrete structure that the locals believe would harm their pristine beach, worsening beach erosion.”

Editorial on a planned seawall in Songkhla's Singha Nakhon district.


“Vietnam’s first domestic car manufacturer, VinFast, will start the mass production of its first electric models next year and will target the United States market”.

“The Cat Hai – Phu Long cable link, which traverses over 3,955 meters of sea to connect the island communes of Dong Bai and Phu Long in Hai Phong’s Cat Hai District, is a part of the longer Cat Ba cable car system developed by Vietnamese conglomerate Sun Group.”

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