‘Bali is Never for Sale’ by Adhelia Putri

Can Bali Stay Authentic in the Midst of Modernisation? | Written By, Life on the Island |

Explosive tourism wouldn’t have existed if it hadn’t been for Bali’s culture. Places like Hawaii, Maldives, and Sri Lanka all have similarly azure beaches, mesmerising destinations, and never-ending activities. Yet, visitors still come to talk about how Bali is the balance of love and inner peace of the world.

– Submission by Adhelia Putri (16), Taman Rama Intercultural School

So, what’s so compelling about Bali’s culture? 

Let’s go back to 1952, when Antonio Blanco, the painter who introduced Balinese culture to the world, came all the way from Cambodia to Bali and lived in Bali for the next 47 years. Or in 2006 when Elizabeth Gilbert, the woman from “Eat Pray Love”, found her way from New York to Bali and restored her spirits and mind right here in Bali. Even Julia Roberts was on board on the movie, it must have been something far more than mere ‘culture’ to attract all these world class visitors, don’t you agree?

You see, culture is exactly what visitors come to Bali for. Culture is the maker of authenticity, the core foundation and the point of interest in Bali’s tourism, and we’re living in it everyday! How lucky can we get?

Unfortunately, while our generation enters the era of modernisation, you and I are risking those same culture into modified trends. New ideas, new way of living, new life. This does have an effect on the overall Balinese culture and if we are not careful to balance the present and the past, nobody will be left to tell the deep, wondrous stories of the Balinese culture.

Culture is character, picture it that way. As individuals, we have our own character. We build on that character to better ourselves and give the meaning of being ‘me’ justice. We do that by indulging in activities we love; like playing the guitar, experiment on new hairstyles, travel, socialise and take on challenges to construct a strong base to that character. We do whatever it is that answer ourselves the question; who am I?

Once we find that voice and uniqueness, people will know us as ‘us’. Same way they know Bali as Bali. As soon as they hear ‘cak, cak, cak, cak,’ they will go “Oh, Bali!” This is what we want. This is the appeal of culture and authenticity is gained from it.

Truth is, the modern world can never replace the strong rooted tradition of Bali. There’s no compromise. Modernisation will never stop coming, and that’s what makes the historic culture of Bali much more valuable. We can’t get them back once it’s left too far behind. But modernisation is still our friend. They never really become our enemy as long as what they are built upon is based on the very soul of Bali. 

What do I mean by soul

Put it this way: Facebook is very successful. Why is that? Is it their ‘add friends’ feature? Maybe. Their own pictures and videos? Perhaps. Their likes and comments? Probably. These features are cool, sure. But, what makes the 24.1 billion users around the world becomes so obsessed with Facebook? Well, I think it’s because we, human beings, are social animals. We love to connect. New shoes, new cars, new job, tell the world. This very basic foundation is what Facebook is all about.

So how does this translate into staying authentic?

I think Balinese people and its residents, should always persist to encourage new comers to base their ideas on the soul of Bali. New business, Bali. New trends, Bali. New menus, Bali. At the end of the day, anything that enters the island of Gods must follow through a gate of one question; are you building up Bali for to celebrate its culture, or merely, building in Bali to gain a market share? To stay authentic is to modify and filter new ideas and integrate just a little bit of Balinese culture, just by then that; when the rest of the world has lost their identity, Bali will be the only place authentic in their own character. And guess what? Bali is never for sale.

– Submission by Adhelia Putri (16), Taman Rama Intercultural School



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