Hi! And welcome to my Bali blog. I have taken a sabbatical from work in Norway: two months off to spend time with new born baby and the rest of my family. We decided to travel down to Indonesia, not least because I require that a long distance between me and work before I can start to actually unwind! Also, it was where we got engaged, so it is a kid of trip down memory lane.
So far so good. Bali has definitely got busier since last time we were here, and the intense tourism is all the more apparent because, for the time being, we are tourists and right in the middle of those sorts of areas. We booked a hotel for a week in Tanjung Benoa, the peninsula poking up from the uber luxerious resorts of Nusa Dua. The plan was to stay in a nice resort to ease ourselves in, then find a little villa somewhere and settle down for a few weeks, do some surfing, spend time with the kids, a little writing, and of course some photography.
Not done much of any of that so far… except for the unwinding bit. Though our eldest son Barnaby has already gone tropical feral. Getting him to wear any type of clothes is a challenge, and he is a hit with the locals with his curly surer locks. It is kind of a weird area to be honest, a beautiful resort but the beach was downright scummy. Litter everywhere and one of the most crowded oceans I have ever seen… not with surfers but with boats of all descriptions zipping backwards and forwards. Every type of maritime entertainment seemed to be on offer, all going on at the same time. I saw those enormous blow up ‘wings’ – which get dragged behind speedboats like a banana ride, before cathching the wind and taking off with the customers clinging on for dear life – with jetskiis going underneath them! Cannot be safe. But on the face of it nothing is in Bali. The roads in particular are like organised chaos.
The old village of Benoa however is not without its charm, most notably for the proximity of a Bhuddist temple, a mosque and a Hindu temple all within shouting distance of one another. Religion is prevalent in Bali, temples and offerings abound (more on this later), and in this little village they all try to shout above one another.
One thing that struck me in this corner of the island, and indeed all over Bali when we started travelling about, was that there is a huge political movement to put a curb on development on the island. The Balinese have always been most welcome of visitors, but the relentless development seems to have taken its toll on their patience, and the island’s ecosystem. Most of the protest seems to emanate from the temples, and there are an array of interesting banners on display across the island, ranging from Balinese fists casting diggers aside, to metaphors of the bombardment of international ‘investment’.
I think this is the right angle to take because it is possible to welcome international visitors without welcoming the degradation of the island. Why allow more concrete when so many existing properties are allowed to crumble and fail? This is a topic I feel I will return to over my time here, as is the immense amount of garbage and the local attitude to it. They are not unlinked either, for how can one complain about the destruction of paradise whilst openly casting rubbish into the sea? An interesting discussion, and an interesting start to our adventure all round. Next stop, the tourists travel to Nusa Lembongan.