What is “Real Bali”?

Soapbox | Written By, NOW! BALI |

This is a serious question which needs taken seriously. Why did you come to Bali? The readers of this magazine are 90% tourists and visitors to the island who have made sincere decisions as to how to spend their holiday time (and money!) the best way possible to have a great time! Just twenty years ago there was no doubt that people came here for, what I call, the right reasons: culture, art, beach, sea and sightseeing. But since then the reasons have become blurred as the support industries: restaurants…

This is a serious question which needs taken seriously. Why did you come to Bali? The readers of this magazine are 90% tourists and visitors to the island who have made sincere decisions as to how to spend their holiday time (and money!) the best way possible to have a great time!

Just twenty years ago there was no doubt that people came here for, what I call, the right reasons: culture, art, beach, sea and sightseeing. But since then the reasons have become blurred as the support industries: restaurants, clubs, bars, amusement centres, shops, spas and parks, have grown to the point that they have become the primary reasons that many people come here!

In fact, if you come to Bali and stay in Nusa Dua, Kuta, Seminyak, Legian, Jimbaran or even the Bukit you may not see even a trace of “Real Bali” during your whole stay.
There used to be a rule that all hotels, shops, villas, well everything, had to be designed using Balinese architecture and motifs, but this has been totally ignored in recent years as “development” outpaced regulation and enforcement. So most of the buildings, roads and infrastructure in south Bali have little connection with the cultural and architectural norms of Bali.
This is not to say that many of the new establishments are not of the highest quality, they are, but they are not Balinese, and make no attempt to be. This type of contrary development is not visible in Rome or Paris, where building code regulations are strictly observed. There are no African villages in the middle of Edinburgh or Japanese Temples in Amsterdam. It is very important to keep cultural integrity in a cultural destination. Sadly, Bali has lost that in the south and is in danger of losing it everywhere. “Real Bali” is in serious danger of being covered over by “new” Bali.

I don’t know if you are unhappy with what you’ve found here. Maybe not, and I certainly hope not, since as I said, many “out of context” establishments are really very good. But for me, I loved “old real” Bali with its astonishing culture, evident everywhere and beautiful as yet unspoiled nature. But if it’s modern life you’re looking for me, Bali has it in buckets. If it’s real Bali, it’s still there if you look for it. The stories in this magazine will help. I hope!!

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NOW! BALI

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