Taken from ‘Bungklang Bungkling’, ‘Liang’, a column by I Wayan Juniartha, as published in Bali Post, Sunday, 1st November 2009. Translated by Putu Semiada
Do you happen to know what makes foreigners come to visit Bali, no matter how far their countries are from Bali.
“You know they are coming for holiday, so they are of course looking for pleasure, they want to have time for relaxing, and they are not looking for troubles for sure,” says I Made Guide Krodit (I Made Bad Guide).
The other drinking club members are just smiling. They don’t seem want to discuss ‘heavy’ topics. They are all get tired talking about the national political situation, especially the current hot issue, that it the KPK (the Corruption Eradication Commission) which has been in ‘political conflict’ against the police headquarters. People describe the conflict as ‘Buaya’ (crocodile) versus ‘Cicak’ (gecko). They think that it is funny how a Police General claims his corps as ‘Buaya’ (crocodile), because we know that a crocodile is considered as wild (‘cruel’) animal, so why does a General say so?” Does it mean that he is stupid or because he is a honest man?
People can not understand either about our very good-looking president who still thinks that Indonesian people are stupid. He says that he doesn’t want to intervene in the affairs of ‘Police vs KPK nor in the affairs of other state bodies. Doesn’t he know that he himself is the one who has appointed the Chief Police and the attorney general?
How do you expect the president is a good leader when he doesn’t dare to warn his subordinates?
The drinking club members have agreed that they would talk about this kind of topic anymore. They won’t talk about the ‘crocodile’ anymore. They leave it to the God. According to them, no matter how thick a crocodile’s skin is, soon or later it will die. When one dies, he will be nothing, no matter how important or how high his position is. Sang Suratma, the highest authority in heaven will give him punishment or reward for what he has done in his life.
So, let’s talk about easy topics, like what makes the westerners like Bali. If you say that’s because of its beauty, it is not really a right reason; there are many other places in the world, other than Bali, that have beautiful views. If you say, because the Balinese are friendly, smiling people, and kind, it’s not really correct, because other people in other parts of the world do so.
“The only reason is because of our culture, which based on Hindu religion and custom. That is our unique culture that has invited tourists to come to Bali,” says I Nyoman Sapta Pesona (I Nyoman Seven Principles of Bali Tourism).
“That’s why the tourism in Bali is called ‘cultural tourism’; a concept of tourism which based on culture, and tourism that enhance the culture itself.”
They all are nodding. Actually, too often they hear that kind of talking; from the village head, mayor, Tourism Department staff, priests, legislative assembly members, campus beauty contest candidates, vendors and realtors. All are very good at talking about cultural tourism as well as about related concepts, such as Tri Hita Kirana, Tri Angga, Asta Bumi, Asta Kosala Kosali, Tumpek Bubuh, and Tumpek Kandang.
“It’s all bullshit. I often lie to tourists about cultural tourism. Well, from my point of view, it’s not because of our culture they come here,” says Made.
Before Nyoman has a chance to express his opinion, Made continues his opinion.
“Look at the hotels in Bali now. How many of them still hold Balinese performance regularly? None! You know, it’s not because of the hotels do not care about Balinese culture, but it because there is no request from the hotel guests.
If it because of our culture, why most of the tourists prefer spending their time in cafes, night clubs, zoos, or super malls?
“If it because of our culture, why do most of the investors prefer building villas, spas, bungee jumping, rafting, Safari Park, snorkelling and diving facilities, and golf course? Why they don’t build wantilan (stage for traditional performance), facilitate the traditional gamelan or dancing associations, or sponsor the subak (the irrigation system in Bali)?”
The answer is very clear: because those are the ones that are currently popular. They are the things that the tourists like, and bring good money too. Most of the westerners come here for pleasure, they don’t want to be lectured about Tri Hita Karana. Most of them are looking for cheap beer or big waves. They don’t have time to listen about the unique Balinese culture. And the rest are just people making money, such as realtors or money laundering agents, who are not really interested in preserving the culture.
“So we can say now, the cultural tourism is dead; it is all because we are never serious in developing our cultural tourism. It is much easier talking about cultural tourism than investing our money in order to seriously preserve our culture.”
Everyone is giving applause to Made. They think that it is much easier for them listening to him than listening to news about the police department’s clarifications on KPK. Made’s comments are realistic so it is much easier to listen to.