Bali is changing.
I’ve been coming here for 12 years since starting Betty Belts in 2003 and haven’t seen a more rapid metamorphosis, well,… ever. Not that things aren’t changing rapidly at home, but it somehow seems more obvious here. And, honestly, as exciting as it is, I find it a bit sad.
Today we visited a surf break we’ve been coming to for many years that was a lonely and beautiful wave paradise for a long time. I arrived and saw the large crowd in the water, the vendors, the cars all lined up along the road… it had become a global surf destination. I was so saddened by the transformation that had taken place, that I lost all desire to paddle out. Just an example of what this looks like: we heard stories of surf guides from down the coast brazenly bringing hordes of surf tourists to the spot. Some of them charge their clients based on wave count, which they would help them obtain by often aggressive methods in the lineup. The friction has been ongoing, police needed to be involved and the result is that the locals have implemented a policy of Locals Only Sundays which seems like it’s going to work.
Property values are skyrocketing at an unsustainable rate for the Balinese as people from around the world attempt to snatch up their own piece of paradise.
But Bali continues to enchant. If you know where to look. The smiles don’t come as readily as they used to… there is a certain amount of uneasiness that seems to exist now, and it wasn’t there before, not like this. The unique culture here that is rooted in gratitude is the framework that holds it all together, and makes for a type of spiritual sustainability.
Don’t let go, Bali. Please, don’t let go.