Bali… You’ve changed.

Bali, you’re fantastic, but you’ve changed…

I’ve been extremely busy recently running my business InSyde Media, so getting away for a proper holiday has been an extremely rare occurrence over the last couple of years. But I did manage to sneak in a quick trip in over to Bali.

Enjoying one of Bali's spectacular sunsets
Enjoying one of Bali’s spectacular sunsets

Bali is somewhere I’ve been a few times, I’ve always really enjoyed going there. It’s great for a quick escape because it’s relatively easy to get there from anywhere in Australia and it’s not really all that expensive. But wow, I can’t believe how much the place has changed.

The last time I visited the Indonesia island was back in 2014 and while the Kuta area has always been overly westernised, I’ve never really minded that because I knew could still easily find the authentic Balinese culture with a quick trip to Ubud or Canggu or any number of other villages.

Now, however, the Instagram cultural has caused the tropical island getaway to change so much that some areas are almost unrecognisable.

The once tranquil Tegenungan Waterfall outside of Ubud now crowded with tourists
The once tranquil Tegenungan Waterfall outside of Ubud now crowded with tourists

Ubud is just one example. What were once remote waterfalls, are now well-tread paths with hoards of tourists lining up to access “Instagram props”. The once scenic vistas of the Tegallalang rice terraces are now overrun with “Bali Swings” and girls lining up to capture their #ootd Insta posts with any number of artificial backdrops.

Where you used to be able to sit down and enjoy a cheap Nasi Goreng and Bintang with a fantastic view, now charges an admission fee and has premium pricing on meals.

My not so cheap Nasi Goreng and Bintang with a view
My not so cheap Nasi Goreng and Bintang with a view

Now, don’t get me wrong, Bali is still a fantastic place and I can see why tourism is booming there. I honestly don’t mind paying especially when I can see that money helping the Balinese people.

Take Tanah Lot Temple as an example. This sacred temple would have been reclaimed by the ocean years ago if it wasn’t for the tourism money that helped sure up its foundations in the 1980’s and now it’s still around for everyone to appreciate. Even if you have to navigate your way through a market to get to it.

Waves crashing into Tanah Lot
Waves crashing into Tanah Lot

And you can still find the authentic Balinese experience, if that’s what you are looking for, you just need to travel a little further these days to immerse yourself in it.

Where I use to recommend friends spend a couple of days in Kuta before heading somewhere like Seminyak or Sanur to find something a little quieter and more genuine then maybe a couple of days in Ubud. I’d now suggest heading to somewhere like Canggu, although in a couple of years that will be drastically different too.

Surfing in Canggu
Surfing in Canggu

I do love Bali not only for its culture but also its unique mix of western modernisation and local customs. I just hope that the local culture doesn’t get completely lost in this current influx of tourism dollars coming into the island that has created so much change.

Next time I head over I plan on exploring further afield and find some more genuine Balinese experiences and I’ll also make sure visit Lombok as well. In fact, the only reason I didn’t visit Lombok on this trip was that the island was devastated by an earthquake the day I landed in Indonesia.

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About the Author: Rhys Vandersyde

Traveler, Photographer, Content Creator. I've spent the last 10 years exploring all over the world, but there is still plenty more to see.

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