I had a simple day roaming around the villages near my resort. I had a great day in terms of weather and there was plenty to see in the remote parts of central Bali. One area of major concern was the number of dogs that were on the streets and many of them were incredibly aggressive. I stood my ground as I walked by and they left me alone. Later in the resort I was advised to be very careful as some dogs were out of control and attacking people. Now they tell me??
Despite that the villagers were very friendly and I did not feel harassed to buy anything. The real and only disappointment came when I arrived in the center of Ubud town and saw a Starbucks. Ubud was a fantastic artistic paradise 14 years ago. There were tiny boutique art dealers and a few restaurants that dotted the countryside. Now it was like being on a mad film set of chaos. All the charm is effectively gone in my opinion. There were new streets with clothing stores and commercial brand names and restaurants that appeared simple and un-original. Someone really screwed up in the planning department.
I am fortunate that my retreat is some distance from Ubud center and on a country road surrounded by rice fields. I have a feeling I will keep away from the commercialism and the center of action. I came here for peace and solitude … not to buy fast food and be bombarded with plastic crap.
Unfortunately Bali appears to be showing how 21st century tourism can become excessive and too commercial despite environmental concerns. There is talk of serious water issues on the island because of over construction. My taxi driver told me that in the neighbouring island of Lombok there is a virus in the water supply that is causing people to break out in rashes. Fortunately that has not occurred here. There is a real fear that it will soon if the government does not get its act together.
Despite the over commercialization of Ubud I am still very pleased to be here and to have found the Tenah Merah resort. This place makes all the difference.
I have enclosed some pictures of the town very near to my retreat. Note there is no Starbucks in the photos.