Have you ever watched those shows that claim to expose ‘what really happens in Bali’ or ‘the dark side of Bali’? I’ve seen them all, I have no idea why I sat through them, but I did, and I saw another one yesterday as YouTube automatically selected a video based on my previous choice of Balinese music on my TV.
These shows drive me crazy. I get so angry and annoyed when I see the sensationalistic journalism that claims to show the REAL Bali. Drugs, gangs, theft, rape, drink spiking, murder and accidents. Oh and have you heard the statistic that one foreigner dies every nine days here? These deaths are largely due to pre-existing medical conditions and misadventure, but still one every nine days. It must be a dreadful place! These kind of things ONLY happen in Bali right?
Bali must be the only country in the whole world with any kind of theft, gangs, illegal drugs, bouncers that beat people up in clubs and robbery. It must be the only country where people can hurt themselves, break limbs and get very sick or killed in motor vehicle accidents.
The worse offender was the Channel 7 series “What really happens in Bali?”. It was so badly titled, and should rather have been called “What happens when Westerners behave like total twats, drink too much, disrespect culture, jump off high cliffs, ride motorcycles without helmets and break the law”. But no, it must be Bali.
I’ve been coming to Bali regularly for over 14 years, I’m here for the third time this year already. I have written previously many times about the things I love about being in Bali. I’m well travelled and I’ve been to many countries in my life, but this place has my heart and a piece of my soul, so I will continue to visit regularly and most likely retire here one day.
I understand if somebody doesn’t feel an urge to come here, it’s not for everyone. That’s what makes the world go around, diversity and different tastes. I’ve never had a desire to go to some countries that others love, and that’s fine too. What I do want to say is that people should never be put off by journalism that misrepresents the truth. What about Thailand? I’ve been there three times. Trust me, the same stuff happens there, but do the media give it the same kind of beat up? No, and it if happens, it’s rare.
Sure there are problems here. Corruption is rife, there is a massive issue with disposal of rubbish, there is poverty and inequity, but I’m sad to say this isn’t the first country I’ve visited where I’ve experienced these things. It’s everywhere. It is particularly prevalent in developing countries. The best we can do as visitors is try to understand how things work here, show our respect, tread lightly on the earth where possible, and enjoy the fact that we are able to visit this piece of heaven on earth.
So what really happens in Bali? For me what really happens is I see beauty everywhere I look. I see an amazing culture and a reverence for nature and spirituality that has been maintained, despite the rapid growth of tourism and influx of Westerners. I see ancient traditions, beautiful architecture, incredible landscapes, beaches and temples. I see people, community, love, family and respect. I see amazing food, incredible scenery, and a feeling that simply cannot be expressed in mere words. I see life in all its craziness blended together in a great big melting pot.
I see paradise.