In the May-June 1977 issue of Breakway, R. Langlois (Rob) and G. Nugent (maybe Gary) gave their impressions after trips to Bali 18 months apart. Rob was credited as a regular contributor to the magazine throughout 1977. (There is still a business Rob Langlois Photography in Melbourne). The article is prophetic: the authors capture the changing mood and landscape of Bali and the Balnese, particularly in the coastal (surfing) areas that attracted ever growing numbers of tourists.
Bali, still beautiful, but 18 months has taken its toll. While the landscape remains much the same, western society and its ways are becoming more evident in the people every day, especially the youth.
This, I am afraid, is to be the main downfall of Bali as a paradise. If it hasn’t happened already, it will be in the near future. Prices rocketing sky high, western rip-offs appearing on the scene and last, but not least, the dreaded rise of the multi-storey, hotels – the backbone of capitalism itself. Work on the hotel at Nusa-Dua (one of the best beaches on the Island) is already underway, and the word is, Uluwatu could be next. My god, they’ll be everywhere!
Getting back to the culture change of the people, particularly to that of the 18-22 year olds (who are by the way, avid Bruce Lee and Charles Bronson fanatics). The temperaments of these guys would not have been so a few years ago. It’s frightening and yet funny to see groups of these matinee idols trying to lay their macho image on you. Two nights in one week there were fights between local heavies and Aussies at the Legian Disco. Apparently the locals were becoming a bit too friendly for the liking of some Aussie babes.
Also, there’s the incident of a friend, who accidently knocked down a Balinese girl on his motor bike. Although she blatantly stepped into his path, he could not leave the scene until a small price was agreed upon by a rather pushy group of ‘Balinese Bronsons’.
Speaking from experience, hiring a guide in search of that perfect point break may turn out for the worst, if one is not too careful.
After finding ourselves stranded on a deserted beach, left for dead by our friendly-faced guide we also discovered he had also exited with a hot little handful of money, while we were surfing. This was Rodney’s second time unlucky after already losing a $200 watch, camera and clothes the week before. Fortunately we found our way back before nightfall, thanks to the Adidas ripple-sole – amazingly easier to backtrack than bare feet.
Don’t expect Uluwatu to be at its surf movie primo every day either. There are places to find elsewhere that hold the same, if not bigger, swells and are much more organised with power to match. Also, breaks at offshore Islands on a full moon will certainly separate the men from the boys (or the sane from the insane). At some of these places you pay your landing fee to the chief of the Island. (Donation for the upkeep of the palm trees, I suppose) and if you decide not to pay don’t expect to surf, it’s as simple as that. It’s not bad though, especially if you can handle being stared at for 24 hours a day – ideal for the true exhibitionist, that’s for sure.
I asked a Balinese kid why he wore jeans and shirts when it was so hot.
He replied: “We only want to look white”. To them, “West is best” and you won’t change their minds about that. The thought of flashy cars and shopping centres 10 storeys high excites them greatly and many would give their right arm to get to Australia. Let’s only hope that the current progress rate will ease a little, so these kids can appreciate this true paradise before it’s really too late.