Bali was and is surfers paradise. World championships are held here. Padang Padang. Big swell. Big names. Echo Beach (That’s right. Martha and the muffins. Remember?) is 15 minutes by car. I like the atmosphere. We get there when the sun is setting, accentuating the beautiful silhouette of the gate-like postures near Captains catch, an atmospheric laid back restaurant. Great pumpkin salade. Yummy dressing.
I know it’s out of fashion
And a trifle uncool
But I can’t help it
I’m a romantic fool
It’s a habit of mine
To watch the sun go down
On Echo Beach, I watch the sun go down
The beach is far from overrun, as I had feared. The big terraces overlooking the sea, their fish and meat bbq’s smelling heavenly, are fare from crowded. A woman is staring at the sunset, yoga pose, two dogs by her side, a girl is reading her thriller, a chubby baby is running around, a dirty piece of wood in his hands, mum is watching from afar. Along the shore, a man-height metal fence has been put up. I wonder why. Construction sites behind it? Abandoned or still in progress? Graffiti has been sprayed all over it. I like the place, the combination of scruffy and forgotten chique. Retro-feel. Mad Max.
Tourism isn’t like ten years ago anymore, the waiter of Captain’s Catch tells me. Maybe because of terrorism, I don’t know. We all remember the Kuta bombing in 2002, in which South East Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiah killed 202 people. ‘Hambali, who is currently in US custody in Guantanamo Bay, is believed to have been the South East Asian contact for Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network.’
But wasn’t it quiet on the Island of the gods after that? I surf the net and find this post of januari 2015: ‘Australians warned to avoid Bali due to terror fears’, and again on febr 2016: Australians have been warned that terrorists might be in the “advanced stages of preparing attacks” in Indonesia and travellers are urged to take precautions, just days after a similar warning about neighbouring Malaysia.’( http://www.balithisweek.com)
I guess a lot of tourists paid heed and surf away the summer riding their local Aussi waves. Indonesia still is the biggest muslim country in the world after all. Wanna know how extreme Islam is over here? Surf to Quora.com. Seems pretty okay, but I am no expert of course. When it comes to religion, by the way, I was surprised to read that 20% of the population is Christian. From where I am writing now, I see the spikes of a protestant church.