I constantly get the “Oh you must be so happy to live in Bali” reception when people find out where I’m based. Yes, I love Bali, I love the island, the weather, the majority of the people and whilst I don’t fully understand the Hindu culture I’m getting to grips with it. However, you don’t see the Mosquito’s on a postcard! Sundays for me is a family day. I load the mutt, the wife and ‘survival gear’ into the trusted motor and head off to a beach somewhere if the weather allows. Seems idyllic, but getting there can be a chore. There’s no easy solution to small popular islands where tourism is concerned. Infrastructure needs to be addresses almost chess game like, to try and stay one step ahead of the demands growing numbers of tourists will place on the resources and administration of the location. I guess much like riding a wave, try and stay in front of the turmoil that awaits if you get it wrong. And sadly this weekend I saw something that to me is very wrong.
I was turned on to the situation by some friends of mine, cheers Iain, of just another development in Bali which has seemingly gone construction bonkers of late. This one got my attention as it looks as if all laws have been thrown out of the window, that respect for the Ocean and the surfers who make this island the success that it is have been, ignored. This would just be another display of avarice gone mental if it wasn’t being executed on a beach that is home to one of the longest standing waves in Bali, Pererenan.
So after battling with the customary clogged traffic, watching non western drivers throwing contents of ashtrays and fast food containers out of moving vehicles, after driving through hamlets with the car windows wound up to avoid the stench of the open sewers that line the pavements we made it to Canggu’s famous Echo Beach. To be met with the scene above. Those are the Echo Beach facilities in the background and just less than 1Km north of which this digger on the beach is happily stock piling sand at low tide within high tidal range which will all be washed away when the waters return. Quite what this is going to do with the bottom topography in a region that has countless waves in a small area is anyone’s guess. The zoning laws also come into question. All new buildings in Bali are to be a minimum of 75m from the waterline, so unless this is just a large sandcastle building competition I would hazard a guess that this would be in breach in this situation. Existing buildings in the region would also have to be destroyed in order for any building in that spot to comply with this ruling.
The Pererenan wave is a favored wave by locals and some schools alike. Whilst not known for it’s technical requirements it has been known to rise up into a powerful barreling ‘A’ Frame that can, and frequently does, offer amazing long rides, solid shreddable walls and a forgiving end section that is perfect for early stage surfers. It’s such a shame to see this wave, and the others in the region, come under potential threat. I guess one can also argue that the local currents and wave actions will eventually reform the sand bottom topography to what it is now, but even the interruption of this wave, if it is just an interruption, is that acceptable?
I’ve not heard of any calls to action, not heard any local murmurings of discontent amongst the surfing community. I asked one local on the beach, he just shrugged his shoulders and smiled, showing the amazing power of acceptance for change that many younger Balinese tend to display. I just hope that this situation doesn’t serve as a model, an indication for a new trend in Bali where beach construction is concerned. One question remains, will those who attempt to question the legality of this development be seen as fly’s in the ointment and the developer lauded as a local business beacon? The victim, yet again, are the features of an island that initiated the influx of visitors in the first place. The amenities of the island now cater to a much wider audience so the waves, it seems, can now be sacrificed. Seeing this, saddened me.