Sunday, 1 November 2009

Final week in Bali

Finally my time in Bali comes to an end. I had a great time here with good friends and I am sad to move on. Of course I am also excited because of the new upcoming adventures. My surfing became way better but I’m not satisfied. I need much more experience but now I’m confident that I will progress my surfing skills on this long trip. The next surf spots will be Hawaii and Cabarete (Dominican Republic).

I just moved to a new bungalow and it was quite busy here. Yesterday people have been sleeping everywhere – even in the living room on the floor. I want to save on living costs to afford more stuff that I really need.

The weather in Bali is now slowly changing. It gets hotter and the rain season is coming up. Luckily it is still not raining but more about that later. Hindus celebrated recently Galungan and Kuningan and it was great to see the colourful ceremonies and the devoted people offering to their gods. Beside the beautiful surroundings here there are also a lot of side effects from excessive tourism. There are about 15 Million tourists coming annually to Bali and new resorts and Villas are finished every day. That is a big challenge for the Balinese society and infrastructure.

Environmental Issues

Water: On the first sight Bali is full of water – Rice terraces, waterfalls, hot springs, tropical rain and countless recreation centers and spa’s. The story behind is that an average tourist spends about 3000l water/day and a Balinese just needs 700l/day. Big hotels and golf centers have been established around Bali and worse – also at the driest places, Bukit in the south. The water comes most of the times from ground water and the ground water level is rapidly falling. In the capitol Denpasar the level dropped 5m last year. Some wells are now 40m deep! The risk that salty sea water breaks in is very high and could cause a disaster. Hotels are asked to install desalination units but they refuse because it doesn’t support their business model.

Beside the ground water problem the other problem is the drought. There has been no rain for a long time and more the half of the rivers are dried up and villages are cut off from water.

Power: Since the 10th of October there are planned power cuts around Bali. The power demand is so high that the existing infrastructure can’t deliver the required power. To avoid an overload of the electrical grid planned shut-downs occur. At the evening whole quarters are dark and even the main touristic places having sometimes no power. A second main power cable is planned to be installed between Java and Bali but this will take a lot of time, effort and money to realize this project.

Rabies: Many stray dogs are infected with rabies. The main hospital designated to treat victims of dog bites counts actually 150 dog bites per day. Twelve people already died this year on rabies and there is a shortage of vaccine. The government can’t deliver enough vaccine for the bitten and the people return frequently and desperately to get help.

Crime: Petty crime is on the rise. Many cases of bag snatching robberies occur as well as organized crime. Last week the first armed bank robbery happend and worried the authorities. Also on the rise are scams of the lease of real estate. It is forbidden for foreigners to buy land on Bali. The workaround is a limited lease for 20-25 years. Many foreigners have been tricked by dubious agents who pretend to own the land and then, after the money transfer, they are never seen again.

"Kuningan celebration ", the last day of Galungan celebration, believed to be the ascendant day of the ancestral holy spirits and Deities to heaven after sojourning for several days on the material world. On this day, special offerings consisting of yellow rice and special dishes are offered while every compound and temple is decorated with ornaments made of young coconut leaves and flowers. I’ve taken many pictures from this celebration at Pura Sakenan, Serangan island ( Turtle Island), Denpasar municipality.

Julia Roberts is also on the island shooting her new movie Eat, Pray, Love. When the movie hits the cinemas some beautiful sites will be shown and the tourism industry hopes for many new visitors in the future.

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