Having spent the last 6 months surfing and living in Australia and then independently travelling through New Zealand by van when COVID exploded – I had to make a decision about what to do, where to be, and how to navigate being first and foremost a nomadic traveller in the face of unprecedented uncertainty. One of my closest friends was residing in Bali not too far from New Zealand, and although New Zealand has better health care systems and seemed like a “safer” option, I decided to listen to my gut instinct and traveled to Bali knowing I may end up getting stuck there for the foreseeable future.
Bali has been a very interesting place to be during Covid. It has been near impossible to know or understand the severity of the situation here as the reported numbers have been wildly misinformed and underreported. Social distancing has been advised by the government and here in Ubud, many shops and restaurants have shut, but many still remain open practising safe procedure (hand sanitiser, masks and so forth). In essence the Balinese people do not seem too frightened of the virus, but due to 80% of Bali’s economy relying on tourism, the blanket ban on incoming flights and the mass exodus of tourists when the virus first exploded, it has meant almost every small AND large business has suffered. The small warungs (local eateries) have lost business but in conjunction to this the large Major hotels have shut down and lost business too with many of their staff being left jobless and unsupported due to the lack of economic welfare available.
Another issue causing problems is that much of Bali’s population are migrant workers – many work on cruise ships and are now being sent back to Bali – where huge amounts of fear around these migrant workers returning means bringing the virus into Bali and spreading it around smaller towns where there have previously been no cases.
The misinformation and seemingly “relaxed” attitude has meant there is less energy of fear permeating all aspects of my life here than seems to be the case in the UK. The general immunity of people here seems to be stronger due to the sunshine, the abundance of locally produced and affordable organic fresh fruit and veg and in general the way of life in Bali promotes a huge dose of daily nature, active movement, being outdoors, community and abundance. I feel extremely grateful to be here in Bali during this period contrary to the initial fears and anxieties of those back in the UK for my wellbeing in a place that does not have a huge number of medical facilities comparatively.
Living out the time of Covid in Bali for me means lots of coconuts, rest, sunshine, the kindness of Balinese people, long walks to explore hidden waterfalls which are now deserted, affordable nutrient-dense local fresh produce and recognising the power of my purse to support local business and families struggling to make it through this period.
What I have learnt from this experience and these unprecedented times is that – the attachment of safety and stability with “developed” western societies is unfounded and that safety, happiness and a high quality of life can be found anywhere in the world you just have decondition your previous thoughts and fears and be open to what the unknown might hold.