Unpacking- in Paradise?
Confession- we snuck off to Bali, Indonesia, specifically to uber-hyped Ubud, only a few days after getting back to Bangkok from Myanmar. We smoothed down our hair, put on socks and were rewarded with two fifty dollar two-month visas from the Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia a few days later.
We landed on a steamy island draped in rich shades of green
There’s no overlooking though, that at some point in its past, serenely beautiful Bali
was flooded by a touristic monsoon that still hasn’t abated.
We quickly realized, that we too are a part of that deluge now. We’re not an attraction any more- we’re a mark! These surprisingly uncommunicative taxi drivers told us disarmingly they were “very tired”, clearly not at the top of their game………
More about Bali’s all-pervasive tourism industry in these two highly deviating opinion pieces: Bali, why bother? versus Bali? The word on the street is that it’s no bother, really.
Is Bali fundamentally a victim of its own success then? Four million people live here. Almost three million people visited last year. “Goodness shouts, evil whispers,” runs a much used local proverb. And money- money talks*. Even to me, as a Bali beginner, it’s disquieting to see the rice terraces around Ubud invaded by chunky villas and ambitious new resorts. Talk about cutting off the branch you’re sitting on! Not to speak of very obvious, and serious, traffic and waste removal problems….Here a beach near Lovina. This is not a particularly crass photo just to make a point, there’s lots of garbage in lots of places where it doesn’t belong:
Were the tourist market to start shrinking because of all this, would concern about the island’s unbalanced state grow, and positive change finally gain more momentum?
It shouldn’t come to that, should it?! I wonder what local people think. I’m pretty sure I’ve never received a truly candid answer… Maybe when I get to know people better?
What I’m very sure about though, is that there’s much much more to Bali than meets the eye…