Destroying Paradise

There is a virulent debate underway about the direction that Bali is heading as it becomes ever-more heavily developed and welcomes rising numbers of tourists. A portion of this important discussion is taking place on the website of this newspaper, where this week “Dewi” posted her thoughts; they are worth sharing here:

I am Bali-born and bred and it breaks my heart to see my home in its current state. At least as a tourist or foreigner, you get to leave Bali once your holiday is over; but as locals, we have to live with the situation.


All the visa money the tourists pay to get in has no effect on the island because all of it goes to Jakarta. I know for a fact that a small community in the Kuta tourist area is trying to do something about Kuta because it is not even safe for the locals that live there anymore.

Greedy non-Balinese are trying to take over and the local government is letting them to do so. The tourists are just as annoyed as the locals. I do hope the local government is reading this and takes it into their thick skull what they’ve done to Bali! Otherwise I believe the tourists won’t return.

This mounting frustration over rampant construction across southern parts of Bali that is decimating the natural landscape that, after all, people from all over the world come here to enjoy, runs the risk of social unrest if left unresolved. Governor I Made Mangku Pastika’s moratorium on hotel construction, widely ignored, would be a start.

Additionally, there is discontent among those living here and visiting over the high levels of pollution now found everywhere, from tourist beaches to rural streams. The government needs to urgently form a taskforce to clean up what is fast becoming known, here and beyond our shores, as an island of filth.

Right now, there are many dissenting voices. If this continues it could become ruinous, leaving a ravaged paradise destroyed by our own gluttony.


Filed under: Editorial

10 Responses to “Destroying Paradise”

  1. henry Says:

    I have always been opposed to the gradual destruction of Bali and now it seems a world wide concern with future tourists and travel agents.One of my main concerns is how it is gradually separating the Balinese from their culture and heritage but i fear it is all too late now…the dollar speaks loudly..

  2. Garth Says:

    I have talked to many Balinese and Indonesian people who are not in agreement with the direction of land use, pollution etc in Bali. As well certain levels of government seem to be attempting to deal with the issues. There is apparently rampant disregard by certain parties because of the profiteering which can be had. Agreed that if it doesn’t stop this island which has already begun to lose it’s innocent beauty will lose it’s allure to many more.

  3. Paul Mclean Says:

    “Hay mate, where you going? Do you want to buy a watch, sunglasses, tee-shirt, woodcarving, surfboard, cigarette lighter, leather jacket, sarong, sea shells, perfume, jewellery, painting, Okie, Quicksilver, Billabong, ? ”

    “Hay mate, you want massage, tattoo, taxi, lift?” “Do you have a program for today?”

    “Hay, mate, where you going now, what you want?”

    Walking down any street or laneway in Kuta, Legian, Seminayak and Sanur I face a constant barrage from the touts, dodging decrepit holes in the oh so narrow pavements, constantly alert for the madhouse millhouse traffic, worried for life and limb, dodging and avoiding, I wonder is this paradise lost? The glossy brochures distributed by the airlines paint a different picture of undisturbed luxury awaiting the intrepid traveler, but where, only on the inside of their ostentatious totally western palaces, walled away from the reality of the local population!

    ‘Hay mate, how many times you been to Bali?’ And my mind drifts back to the simpler times of 1978, by far not the first, but much earlier times for sure, a life time before the many that ask, and one they have no concept, where the pathways were sandy tracks beneath coconut groves, where space was rice paddies in every direction, a massage was performed on the beach with gritted oil or in the room of your losman by surprisingly strong withered hands of old women and the kaleidoscope of smells of incense, perfumed flowers, food frying and animals that mingled and wafted from all directions, overwhelming the senses. With the wind whispering though the trees fighting with roosters to supply the daily sounds and beaming content happy faces everywhere.

    ‘Hay mate, you want young girl?’ Now its nightclubs and taxis, bars and motorbikes, a constant barrage that drones on into the dawn. Drunken Aussie surfers, fading hippies and women on bikes selling their souls for a pocket full of gold from distant shores. Every man I meet has a young girl, can find one, will supply one, all pimps for the trade in flesh. Abandoned young women from Java usually, with a child at home with grandma, working in a “restaurant–shop- factory”, or whatever name they substitute for brothel, that they feel safe telling their family back home. Even the genuine massage girls, who rub and press for six dollars and hour, will happily find the same. I wonder if they realize they are in training for an unforeseen future that lays in wait for themselves or their children.

    With a population withering in the streets, pandering to the travelers from afar that land like beached whales daily by the score, with pockets overflowing with money, where does their life go, how long can it last? Who can blame them anyway; they only want what we have got!

    Why is every one so dirt poor? Why are Balinese barely etching out an existence on a monthly wage that hardly pays for a tourist’s room for one night in their own land? Is today’s hunger tomorrows starvation in Paradise? How did it get so Western restaurants with marble and chrome and plunge pools on the side supplying the best food at cheapest of cheap prices abound while the locals eat on the footpath out of banana leaf amongst the refuse discarded by the throng.

    Why so accepting of a fate so dire? Could it be their religion, Hinduism, so complete in it’s promotion of reincarnation, be so overwhelming in the assumption of acceptance of ones lot as the result of indiscretions of past lives?

    How can these Monoliths of International Hotel chains suck so completely on Bali? Why do they give back so little to the Balinese as they watch as the very reason for their existence, this tropical paradise, festers into oblivion? One room at the top end for one night easily employs five staff for one month. So rich yet so cheap! Why do they only watch the bank statements and note only the amounts they send back to their Headquarters in Tokyo, New York, London or Paris. The bottom line is the profit line. How do they get away with this pseudo murder of a society? Surely the spreading of the wealth is the true way.

    And how long will it take till the pollution of the body and soul of a whole population be complete. It took since the beginning of time till 1978, then thirty years till now. Don’t blink too fast; the future will soon be upon us. And if Hinduism is the truth then those that run the Big Hotels should be very scared. Hari Rama.

  4. JS Says:

    I am as a foreigner live on Bali since 4 yr. I see the problems here and i hear about it from worldwide visitors.
    A first step would be done if all this problems come to the light. The most people here try always to avoid any problems … all is always fine and sunny here … no, its not. But it will not be solved if no one talk about.
    One, the corruption, second the uncontrolled sold out of the land, second the unsolved building problems, third the overfilling with tourists. fourth the impossibility of the government to ask or accept help … there are a lot of other, small touristic islands of this world … why not learn from them ? Maybe learn how the trash problems can be solved, maybe how to turn the tourism into smaller number on much higher quality …. The most of the tourism is working for backpackers – how expensive the hotel ever is, the most of the hotels here are only prepared for guests who stay one or two nights …. quick and simple money … don´t think about tomorrow ….
    All this could be solved in public, open and honest discussions … i am a bit afraid, it will never happen … :-((

  5. Bruce J Dargie Says:

    As I walked and rode around Legion and Kuta over the last couple of days, I tend to agree with this article in the ‘post’ in the ‘Bali Times’. This is, I believe , my 21st trip to the magical island paradise! It is sinking into a state of rubble-everywhere as new high-rises spring-up around this once gentile and rustic utopia! I do prefer Sanur and Ubud at this stage of my life. However it is extremely difficult to ‘frame’ a photo these days to escape the increasing piles of building waste materials and flotillas of garbage in roadside drains!

  6. jay Says:

    I give it a few years until a major paper or magazine like TIME prints the title of the article….”Paradise Lost.”

    I am an expat for 7 years here and am questioning the idea of continuing living in the south of Bali.. I honestly feel so sorry for tourists when I see them in the South now.. The only ones that seem to fit in, and truly enjoy themselves, are the ones that are drunk of their face and looking for young girls..

  7. Mark Ulyseas Says:

    The Balinese are to take equal blame for this. They have sold their land for a quick buck, have become spoiled by the rich and easy pickings of tourism. Further they have not concentrated on EDUCATION i.e. higher studies i.e. higher than Class 9 ! They were and are quite content with being waiters and drivers and “fixers”.

    Many years ago it was the Javanese who were blamed for everything – from theft to the change of weather! Not so now, theft by Balinese has increased and so has other crimes!

    The is the spin off of tourism – it has poisoned the psyche of the Balinese and warped their sense of proportion.

    It is time the Balinese looked inward…to their roots…their vibrant ethos and “true” religiosity and not just ceremonies.

  8. Jo Peter Says:

    …I saw Bali spirit festival this year, with no Bali spirit at all – just Westerners with big money…seems they buy out the Bali people.

  9. jr ewing Says:

    I aint sure why tourists are being blamed for anything. If you get a permit to build a hotel without parking areas for vehicles? blame the tourist, please this is childish. If everyone has sold or rented their car parking area as a shop are they entitled to park on someone elses front door or complain no they are not. The corruption is a portion, is their any work for women with a child in java, sumatra, aceh or sulawesi? no off course there is not nor are their social systems in place. The local administration chooses to charge these victims kipas/kipem (every 3 months) even though they have KTP (indo national id). Is this fair no it is not, building an annex to the international airport without fixing the roads/infrastructure is also another lesson in madness and a waste of money. There is less tourists coming here and the figure is being skewed by the chinese flying into bali and do the locals complaint wooo yes they do. In conclusion most indonesians working the streets of kuta, legian are not from Bali. It is tough for some.

  10. RS Says:

    Jr Ewing pointed important factors. We are visiting Bali since late seventies, Bali of today is no where near to Bali of late seventies. Balinese must share the blame, corruption is every where now immigration, tourist guides, local services, stealing, murders n list can go on. Worst part we notice is the way Javanese labor is being exploited by Balinese, as jr. Ewing pointed out Javanese (main workers in Bali) are charged for kiipas/kipem plus donations (for what, anyone guess) being Indonesian they are treated as outsiders. Balinese fail to realize that if these Javanese leave Bali, within days tourist places will turn into garbage bag. it’s soo hard to see local Balinese worker (where are they/what they do)? We feel Indonesian government should take note of all this, by leaving as it basis, surely Island sooner or later will become ghost Island.

1