Not all is perfect in paradise. (Bali, 2016)

We drive to Nusa Dua, the peninsula in Bali South. Traffic is dense, and so are the drivers. There is no real aggression on the road, but courtesy is also out of the question. Big and bold goes first. Or small and reckless, like the mopeds. We are neither. I drive too close to the left, hit the mirror of a parked car. No fuss though, just drive! We go through Denpasar, take the ring road and head over to Kuta Selatan, where we rented a super chique Airbnb, for a very nice price.

        Looking out over Jimbaran bay, the accommodation has a wonderfully landscaped tropical garden, with gazebo’s all over, and an 80 year old joglo: a Javanese style porch, for breakfast and loafing about, a mega-pool with the clearest water ever. It is paradise in a rather overpopulated area. We get three bedrooms, each with in suite bathroom, a private pool and a shared pool for 75 euro’s a night + 30 euro’s overall Airbnb costs. The property has been on line for one month, but, surprisingly, we are the first customers. Maybe because there is no wifi? 🙂  But who cares about that when swallows fly over the water to drink? When every piece of furniture is antique or artistic. (And when you bought a local sim card. :-))

We meet Moses, Sari’s brother again. We haven’t seen him in over a year. He lives on Bali with his wife Eta and two kids: Aurora and Esteban. He runs Mava Holidays, and knows all the best spots on the island and beyond. In the evening he takes us to Ocean, a seafood restaurant on Jimbaran beach, but away from the crowds. The beach has a cozy feeling to it, fishing boats sleeping on the calm sea, green ones owned by Muslims and blue ones belonging to Hindu fishermen (or was it the other way round?), kites fly high, and the stench of the fish market more than bearable. To our right we can see the planes fly in to Bali, one every ten minutes or something, the runway stretched out into the sea.The food is great! Moses orders a couple of set lunches he advises all his customers.(Normally this meal would cost you 200.000 Rupiah, which is about 13 euros.) The grilled grouper is delicious and so is the squid, the gambas and seashell are exquisite. The sauce is hot. Of course it is. At the end of the meal, my lips are numb.

On sunday Sari, the monsters and Moses and family go to Sanur, a beach town up north, and to Turtle Island. I prefer to sleep in and hang around our little paradise. I take the car and drive around aimlessly. This part of Bali is not your hideaway paradise. It seems like a big, industrious village, with shops, restaurants, hotels and villa’s, a university and supermarkets all over. Hotels each claim their own private part of the beach. Getting off the main drags you drive through this maze of too narrow roads, with every house its own Hindu shrine, palm trees and laundry and bakso shops. I like our hideaway up on the hill, and I am sure there are some pretty awesome beaches in these parts, but in two days I’d rather drive to inland Bali, with its lush green slopes and easy going lifestyle. I love beauty and calm, preferably in combination, in South-East Asia, in my opinion this often comes down to heading for an isolated spot, or paying (a relatively higher amount of) money for a chique accommodation. Sari and I, for example love big cities: Bangkok, KL, Singapore, Ho Chi Minh. We like the hustle and bustle, always something going on, great food … and they feel real, really local. But it is always nice to retreat to our rooftop pool, our two bedroom suite in a biggish hotel, with soundproof walled rooms and nice architecture.We have become travel snobs. (Although I would call this trip holiday, not travel.)

So once every ten minutes or something, a planeload of tourists flies into Bali. Moses tells me this is not a model of sustainable tourism. Drinking water, for example, is a big problem. Bali, Indonesia is known for its beautiful scenery, vibrant culture, and … its lack of water sanitation.  As the smallest province in Indonesia it is the largest tourist destination.  Tourism accounts for 60% of Bali’s economy and has helped it grow economically and socially.  Bali’s population is currently at 4.22 million and expected to increase due to the increasing job opportunities available.But not all is perfect in paradise.  Bali’s growing population and development has led to a predicted water crisis as early as 2025.  The resources that the island can provide are simply not meeting the rapidly increasing demand. (Read more about Bali’s water crisis)

Moses tells me the implementation of a moratorium on new hotel development failed, as local administration keeps granting permissions to build new hotels. It’s all about knowing whom to pay. As always and everywhere.

We visit Pura Luhur Uluwatu, one of the more important Hindu temples of Bali. I have to admit this is a bit of a disappointment. The scenery, with its royal cliffs, is grand, but the temple itself? Well, I hope we missed it, because what we saw was not impressive at all.





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