In fragrance guest post special features

Fragrance Shopping In Indonesia - by Sue Scarcella OAM

My parents came back from a trip to Bali, Indonesia a few weeks back with some great stories - one of which is fragrance-related! So I've asked my mother, Sue Scarcella, to tell us about buying fragrances in Bali.

Going to South East Asia is an incredible thing…especially for those who love fragrances. You encounter all those tropical flowers and wonder if you can find them in bottled form….instead you get offered anything but in the streets. 

It goes without saying that if you don’t purchase your top end scents from a reputable store, you are not going to get the real thing. Fragrances are one of the many luxury items that are faked and sold on the streets of South East Asia. It drives the fragrance companies crazy, but it’s not just the companies who should worry. So should you…more about that later. 

I recently came back from a holiday in Bali, Indonesia. I am a regular traveller to Bali, so I’m usually pretty much up with what things are being faked- DVDs, watches, clothing and fragrances being amongst them. But there are some new trends, proving that the lure of lucre leads to creativity. 

1. Boxed Fragrances

Boxed fragrances have been sold in small shops on the streets for well over ten years now. Most tourists know that they are fake…one would hope so anyway. They are mostly sold in plain bottles and boxes that bear only a fleeting homage to the originals. Occasionally, however, the boxes do somewhat resemble the originals and can be a bit of a giggle. 

Some fake perfumers appear even to have a very wry sense of humour. CK’s famous ‘Eternity’ becomes ‘ENTERNITY’. That one has been around for a while now. 

Nina Ricci’s ‘Love In Paris’ retains its name, but the Indonesian ‘Love in Paris’ is made by Sandrella. Who? You might well ask! It appears to be a local Indonesian company which specialises in higher quality knock-offs. They also do ‘Red Delicious’, ‘Pure Delicious’ (Apel Hijau/Green Apple) and ‘Fantasi’. I haven’t seen those three on sale, only online, but they have nice bottles which give a little nod to the originals. At around Rp22 500 (c AUD 2.50), don’t expect much.

Over the years, I’ve seen some interesting developments in the bottles and boxes. Some have taken a lot more trouble to try and fool the unsuspecting buyer. A local supermarket sold one a few years ago that was in a J-Lo type bottle but was called Sensual. It was by…wait for it!...Elizabeth Dior. 

We also have the Jean Paul Gaultier ‘Happy Edition’. You heard right. This one does not take the name of any official JPG fragrance. The anonymous bottlers were clearly thinking of Clinique’s ‘Happy’ when they made the box, as it is the same orange. On the other hand, they did use a JPG type bottle (at the top of the article). 

2. Unboxed fragrances

These are a new development on the scene. In larger malls, and at fairs and carnivals, sellers have bought space and are selling these concoctions, mostly to locals. The price is not cheap, around Rp2000 a mil. That means that 100ml would come in at Rp 200 000, ten times the price of the ones I purchased in the supermarkets, boxed. These, however, as you can see from the photos are in giant bottles, which are then decanted into atomisers. They are a big worry though. Even bigger than the boxed ones. The sellers pull the tubes out of the bottle and wipe them straight onto your arm…no testers! And one of the ones they wiped across my husband’s arm burnt him badly. It took days for the redness to go down.

So you have to worry about the safety of these fragrances…and their hygiene. The same tube is wiping across hundreds of arms a day and then being put back into the bottle. They are described as having no alcohol in them (probably because of the Muslim majority in Indonesia), but no ingredients are listed anywhere. 

As recommended at the start of the article, it is wise not to buy these fragrances. Unless you like the bottles they come in for a bit of a laugh. But don’t use them on your skin. One of the ingredients reputedly used in them is cat urine. 

If you want real fragrances, go to a reputable store. Chains like Matahari have proper fragrance counters. However, the prices are about the same as at home- you may even get things cheaper at duty free. 

3. Are any fragrances safe in South East Asia? 

Yes. There are many natural oil fragrances sold in stores and craft markets. My favourite store in Kuta, Bali is one called Daun in Kuta Square. Daun is located just beside the Kuta craft markets, behind the Matahari store and is two floors of fragrance indulgence. It’s fixed price, so no need to haggle. Prices are good, quality is high and the place is a dream to walk round in. Enjoy local smells like frangipani and cempaka as well as citrus, strawberry and other natural smells. Daun also sells soaps, salt scrubs, incense and just about anything else that produces a fragrance. Great for those into aromatherapy. 

Other stores are beginning to follow suit around the Kuta/Legian area, but Daun was the first and, in my opinion, still the best.

Sue browsing products in Daun

Daun is located at: Kuta Square, Block E 26-17, Jl. Bakung Sari, Kuta, Bali, Indonesia

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