Bali, an island some people will say is too popular. Most millennial backpackers even skip this island, because ‘there is no authenticity anymore’. Since I have interned on the island of the Gods for 5 months, I’ve been asked many times if it really is that toursty. Truth is that I will always defend the island. Bali has a few assets that are enormously strong and unique; most importantly being its religion. Balinese Hinduism is something else. It is so pure, so strongly present in Balinese daily life and so beautiful, that is it hard not to fall in love with the island. Bali shows how to stand up straight when circumstances get tough; when corruption prevails, shores get built over, oceans become trashed and forests burned. No matter how many tourists arrive on the island every year, they can’t change the culture.
My second visit
Yes, Bali is polluted, commercial and at some places too crowded. This year I spent the summer here on behalf of Bali.nl, to find new highlights to write about. It was super frustrating to get stuck in traffic jams on a daily base, and I was shocked by the amount of new multinational resorts, restaurants and hotels that were built in the 2 years that I hadn’t visit the island. But note that tourist organizations have their way of centralizing the tourists in resorts like Kuta and Sanur. Check the internet for itineraries from tour operators offering trips to Bali and you’ll see that they keep the travellers in a certain area, mainly in the south. That’s how Ubud got overpopulated, Lovina became disappointing and Kuta came to look like a Western city.
Bali has not lost its magic
There are still numerous of places where the locals don’t speak a word English and villages where you won’t find a fancy hotel but only a small homestay (if you’re lucky!). I have travelled through the island two times now by motorbike, and I was very happy that I could communicate with the Balinese people in their own language. In Pupuan for instance, a small village in the lush, mountainous area of central Bali, the only person who spoke Bahasa Indonesia instead of Balinese (which is a totally different language) was the manager of the local supermarket. He brought us to a house where they had an extra room with a bed and a tap with bucket.
I was relieved to find that Bali still has unspoiled beaches, building-free rice paddies and plenty of super friendly locals that are not talking to you to get your money. Bali has not lost its magic. This gallery contains my favorite pictures of my time in Bali in 2016.
P.S. The accommodations on the pictures are all eco lodges or eco resorts that try to minimize the tourists impact on the island, promote Balinese tradition and empower their employees.
School children in Kesiut, central Bali
Golden hour on Labuhan Sait’s shore, south Bali
Breakfast with a view in Canggu, southwest Bali
Turquoise waters in Labuhan Sait, south Bali
Surfers line-up in Uluwatu, south Bali
Fresh fish on Jimbaran’s fishmarket, southwest Bali
Saleswoman in Jimbaran, southwest Bali
Infinity pool on top of the cliff in Ungasan, south Bali
A sleepy lizard in Munduk’s forest, central Bali
A perfect hideaway in Ubud, central Bali
Hammock time in Uluwatu, south Bali
Fisherman in Labuan Sait, south Bali