Sunday, December 31, 2006



I was blessed with the opportunity to travel and leave behind my tourism dollars in several tourist-lacking lands in 2006.

I went last January during the first Haj of 2006 to Jordan, where I had long planned a visit to one of the great wonders of the ancient world— to Petra and its troglodyte surroundings in a national park and various canyons, dating back to the Decapolis mentioned in the Bible three millennia ago. (Besides enjoying the mixture of gorgeous scenery and architecture in Petra, in Amman I met refugees from the Civil War in Iraq in Amman.)

Later that same month and into February 2006, I traveled in central and southern Sri Lanka as new bombings and insurgencies imperiled the years-long cease-fire that had once brought home to that tsunami-drenched land.

As the bookend to these journeys in 2006, in early December I determined to fly via coupe-damaged Thailand to the wonderful island of Bali. Bali, a historically peaceful Hindu state within Muslim Indonesia, had suffered bombing attacks in both 2002 and 2004 in the heavily-touristed town of Kuta. So Bali, too, is just recovering from violence as the year 2007 approaches.

Each of the three countries I have mentioned above and had visited in 2006 are heavily dependent on tourism to make income for the underdeveloped local and national economies. As a world-traveler who has now been blessed with the ability to visit some 90 lands in less than two and a half decades, I have become sensitive to the give-and-take of cultures that come from an economic and cross-cultural relationship based on tourism.


I was impressed with the balance that these three violence-wrought lands—Jordan, Sri Lanka, and Indonesia-- are able to carry out. This is especially true of Bali, where the likes of Margaret Mead and other anthropologic academics once lived and studied. After decades of experimentation, Bali has created (following years of developmental mistakes, like to loss of great coral reef barriers off the coast of Candisa) a balance between development and tradition, which I till now had not witnessed elsewhere to such an advanced degree.

For example, in central Bali—and away from the overdeveloped beach resort of Kuta in the south—one can visit three or more different traditional dances & modified dances any day of the week now. (Hence, during any one week, one can thus see in different villages some dozen or more different dances and varieties of dances performed. Further, some groups & villages offer special festival-related dances each month.)

I, myself, initially stayed in Central Bali for a week in a timeshare that I had traded for with a company called RCI. This particular timeshare is called Bali Masari Villas & Spa. It was the most relaxing retreat and seemingly well-integrated resort I had ever experienced. This aged and green resort had managed to develop and coexist for decades without effecting negatively the way of life of those living around it.

From my balcony, situated on the edge of the township of Sukhuwati, I could observe and listen to life in the neighboring village of Saab, located on the hill across a small ravine from my resort. All day long, local villagers would march down the hill laughing and joking on their way to the tiny river below the ravine. Further to the west on that same creek, those same Balinese would bathe in the river, secluded behind the shade of large trees and vegetation, just as their ancestors had done there for millennia.

At nights from that balcony, I often heard neighborhood youth playing volleyball just behind some large palm trees that obscured the view of the Saab village. I, too, got up one morning and walked to the river, waded across, & trekked through the village of coconut trees, Hindu house temples and rice fields—before wading back over to the resort-side of the small valley.

One evening at dusk, as I finished my swim, I hear drums. I thought, ‘What was that?”
When I asked one of the local native school teachers, whose family I had invited over to enjoy a swim in the resort’s pool, what exactly that drumming was about.

That same physical education instructor nodded and shrugged, saying that the community was obviously calling to order the village meeting -- using the traditional instruments made throughout the region: drums.


Sadly, the situation for many Balinese and those living on neighboring islands, like Lombak which I also visited, remains depressed since the Bali bombings of the first part of this decade carried out in the southwest resort town of Kuta. Nearly 250 reported deaths occurred in that fateful September night 2002. There were likely more local deaths which went unreported as the poorer injured local victims simply went to their family’s hometowns to die--without making an official report to the police. (It is very important for the traditional Balinese to die and be buried in a local plot for 2 to 3 years—before official ceremonial cremation is carried out as part of the Hindu rites.)

Ostensibly, an extremist Islamic group from another corner of Indonesia was responsible for the bombing at the Kuta disco in 2002. Two years later there were further bombings. took place again in Kuta. Luckily, in 2006 there were no bombings in Bali. Alas, tourism was still way down —being just under 60% of the pre-bombing totals.

Worse still, just after I left Bali on December 21, the U.S. and Australian state departments warned their citizens to avoid Indonesia. The officials claimed that their were terrorist threats.

Undeterred, I determined to invest in a time-share on a neighboring island and will commit my tourist dollars to that beautiful and under-attack country for the next 25 years. (Further, as I do not want my timeshare to go under water, buying this property on an island commits me to fighting apathy related to global warming effects threatening all island states throughout the 21st Century. Hear Me, Congressmen! Pass legislation reducing Green House Gases and Global Warming NOW!)

[to be continued]



Blogger Saad Amir said...

You are great article at the end of the year.You highlight the problems of the terrariums.
regards, saad from

7:02 AM  

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