We have had ten years of NOW! Bali, but I have had 40 years of visiting this magical island. My first steps on Bali were taken in January 1979, exactly forty years ago and it was a very different place. There was no development, no modern hotels, not many restaurants, no bars to speak of, no beach clubs, very few motor cycles, not much wine, very little noise, no traffic jams, no billboards, no fast food outlets at all, no theme parks and very little crime.
Was it better? Well it’s very easy to say “yes” it was idyllic, peaceful, magical, etc. but when you are sitting in a five star hotel, with every luxury at your finger tips, with a trip planned to a world class park with the kids, and dinner booked in an outstanding restaurant, its’ easy to say “no” now is much better!
The questions is can’t we get the new without losing the old? Mostly it has been a question of planning, zoning and controlling or should I say a lack of all three. The island simply wasn’t ready to manage a tidal wave of development that flooded everyone, brought huge wealth, huge opportunity and huge temptation.
Sadly there are few who can resist the lure of easy money for “marginal” permits, for zoning “infringements” and so with the new wave of luxury has come over crowding, over development and a distinct loss of identity especially in the south. A sad but inevitable consequence of this urban invasion. What will it be like 40 years from now?
We’d better be careful or we may lose Bali’s real identity altogether, and it may not take 40 years.