I’ve been to Bali Too….often? Coz I love it? Not enough?
“IM GOING TO BALI??????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.
It was 1984 and nan and grandad were taking me. It was cool to buy knock off Adidas runners, the Bali Bogan was unknown, BYO vegemite, Redgum had a hit single about Bali.
We loved Bali.
In the 90s I had work with Indonesia and by fluke stayed at the same hotel from 13 years before. The hotel was run down, tourism had dropped. The friendly haggling on the street had been replaced with threats to buy with a knife and there was a bit of a plastic problem ….
But we still loved Bali.
I lost interest. Bali bombing scared me. I want to holiday amongst other cultures. I don’t want to go shopping. I want pristine waters. Everything I heard from Bali was anything but that.
I stopped liking Bali even though I hadn’t been for 20 years. A bit pathetic really.
Off to Lombok
Out of the blue a chance to visit Lombok came up. We thought why not…
…an earthquake, said not. Via Project Karma, who had people on the ground, I can tell you that the media seemed to be about keep it hush to keep tourists content just before a peak season, whilst locals died. Travel insurance would not cover us, the course was moved from Lombok to Bali and we thought “why not”?
As long as we could avoid the crowds. So we headed north.
Bali was beautiful. All it took was a 90 minute transfer.
It was quiet, no boozing, a European and gay and couples crowd, beautiful location and seriously, perfect. As I undid my prejudices the only thing I was left with was the rubbish problem.
It’s everywhere. It’s disgusting. It’s generational. It won’t be solved. It will forever be a blight on this beautiful island. Why is it so prevalent in Bali? A lot gets washed up on beaches from other places. Secondly, if your food has been forever wrapped in palm leaves and at the end of every day you throw it away …the memo that plastic was different didn’t get airtime.
Tour guides cursed the rubbish as they threw plastic bags full of food to the monkeys that attacked us. Sigh.
Indonesia in the press – a challenging narrative
Re-creation as a foodie destination has been a masterstroke, driven by Australian expats selling for slightly less with significantly lower than Australian business costs. Win Win win win
Aussie “troubles” in Indonesia (Schappelle, bombings, drug couriers, pedophiles…) just saw us bounce back in our Bintang singlets in record numbers, until recently when local authorities lamented naked yoga poses at temples.
Now we can’t say Lombok without saying Sulawesi; earthquake and tsunami with significantly more graphic images. Are we endlessly resilient?
So where are we at with Bali?
Destinations such as Cambodia and Vietnam, with low barriers to bribery and exploitation, make a compelling case to see something new, matching the experiential desire of the more modern traveller. Three hours more in a plane is not a problem.
Meanwhile newly minted travellers from countries with fat cheque-books are descending in greater numbers. They have very different travel tastes and create conflicting tourist economies which do not crossover. The massive white tour buses not only block traffic but drive a very different economic agenda.
But bless us, Australians donate in record amounts to the Lombok and Sulawesi causes, because not only are we relatively wealthy, not only are we generous, but a lot of people have had the times of their lives in Indonesia and want more.
Will they keep going? Time will tell.