Saturday, March 26, 2011

Not Loving Bali Anymore

When I was a kid, we went to Bali almost on monthly basis. I learned Balinese dances, I learned how to create the coconut leaves pieces needed for my dancing & Hindu prayer. My friends thought we were Balinese family. I wanted to live in Bali because I felt I could be myself over there. In short, I loved everything about Bali. Yes, loved. Past tense.

Then our family moved to Jakarta. And until last week, I hadnt been to Bali for more than 15 years.

I flew straight to Bali from Ireland to meet my friends. At that time two of my closest buddies were in Bali. I couldnt pass the opportunity to meet them both, right?

My dear friend B picked me up at the airport that night and we had a lovely dinner at Oenpao restaurant. I was so happy to be in the same place as him after all these years. We caught up with each other's work, family and love life. I stayed at his place while in Bali. It was lovely seeing him with his cute little daughter. A sight I had never imagine to see. His wife is great. She's a very successful furniture/interior-designer/exporter. If you need any rattan furniture, I hook you up with her.

The next day we went to his office. Great place. I love their huge meeting desk. It was made from 1 single tree trunk, and it was massive. It took 20 people to lift it! It has Balinese letters with their office logo and two some sort of leaves carved into it. It was given for free by the carpenter along with some other beautifully carved pieces around their office.

We then went sightseeing. We drove to Ubud and Nusadua area. That was when I saw how my beloved Bali is no more. Gone are the lush greenery view and was replaced by shops along the way. It broke my heart seeing it. Back in the day Bali was already commercialized but this time it was beyond of what I could've imagine. Coupled that with the fact I was in Ireland the day before with its wonderful pristine landscapes. How could Ireland keep their landscape free of commercialization while attracting seven millions of foreign tourists yearly (which is almost twice their own population) while Bali couldnt do the same thing (there are less then 3 million tourist visit Bali from abroad on yearly basis)?

I had my first ever jetlag that day, had to catnap as soon as we got home. I cancelled my dinner in Jimbaran and later we went for a late super in Il Pomodoro which has rather nice pizza. I wanted to eat Bebek Bengil but B doesnt like it, and as I dont eat red meat we didnt visit Warung Nury in Ubud which is famous for it's pork.

The next day A picked me up and we went to her hotel in Jimbaran to have breakfast. We hung out and caught up with each other before going to Kuta for lunch at Red. Afterward I flew back to Jakarta.

I dont think I want to go back to Bali for vacation any time soon. I'd rather go elsewhere. B said I need to go to a resort in Bali or some back street where it's still untouch by commercialization. I dont think that's the way to enjoy Bali that I used to love. Oh well.


Harry Nizam said...

Hi Triesti,
Glad to know that you are back.
The first time I visited Bali was on school holidays in 1979 with some friends.
We stayed at a friend's bungalow in the middle of a paddy field in Ubud.
I really loved Bali at that time.
The last time I went there was 2 years ago, the paddy fields in Ubud has disappeared. Kuta and Legian were to crowded.

colson said...

Most important are the people of course. And from your story I learn the old friends are still okay.

And a hypothesis: As three and a half million tourists don't leave the small peninsular-like little part of Bali, but the seven million visitors in Ireland don't stay in and around Dublin but spread all over the country and go West, the destructive impact of tourism and neo-liberal economies is in comparison by definition by far more visible in that small part of Bali.

So if I ever will visit Bali again I will go North :). Lovina perhaps?

triesti said...

@harry: my sentiment exactly.
@colson: the old friends are still and always be okay.

I dont think it's about tourists staying in one area or not, but the willingness of the Irish to keep the nature nature and didnt give in to commercialization.