One more snake fruit before I board a plane and fly off this little lovely island. Everybody in this premier lounge is nicely dressed and carrying suitcases – and I came stomping in with a backpack, an old plastic bag, harem pants, and sandals. I have the highest elite tier of my airline alliance but right now I think my appearance here is a good joke.
Speaking of plastic bags, and all jokes aside: Bali is changing so fast it is almost frightening. New villas pop up everywhere, people become wealthier, and Balinese nature and the ecosystem become poorer. The traffic is unsustainable. In Ubud there is a graffiti work of art on the wall of a house, depicting the elephant god Ganesha with a gas mask.
But fortunately some resorts and restaurants are jumping on the green bandwagon as they have realized that there is money in green thinking. Many people who come to Bali are health- and environmentally conscious. Several cafés now offer to refill water bottles for less than store-bought ones, and plastic shopping bags need to be purchased in the shops.
Plastic… like anywhere else, it is also the greatest nemesis over here. There is not that much of it compared to a Western country, but it is not properly disposed of and thus it is everywhere: by the road, in the rivers, on the beach. And perhaps you know that a plastic bag looks very much like a jellyfish, and great sea turtles eat jellyfish? A plastic bag in the intestines is possibly the most common non-illness related death of sea turtles.
Increasingly, people seem to care, though. Maya Ubud resort offers no plastic water bottles at all. Many resorts and cafés advertise their sustainability programs. It feels as if Bali is on a tipping point. Hopefully the driving force of environmentally conscious tourists is strong enough to mold the future of this island into something that will actually carry it far into the future.
(Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia; September 2016)