theWorks - the Nexus Blog

bali breathing...

Last time I was in Bali I was carrying a backpack, wearing sandals and chilling out to the wind chimes in Ubud. A 'few' years later and I've returned in smart casuals for a conference. Many things have changed - more traffic on better roads, an incongruous Planet Hollywood, the tight security around Nusa Dua - but thankfully the essential Bali is still intact. There's an overwhelming sense of tranquility and everyone really does smile. Whether this is a cultural/ religious phenomenon or a narcotics related trance is unclear, but it certainly makes for a peaceful experience.

Jogging along the beach one early morning in search of authenticity, I come across a group of locals wading along the shoreline collecting seaweed off wooden barriers and piling it into small flat boats that bob along in front of them. How heart-warming to find a genuine cottage industry! Later I learn that the enterprise is just one of hundreds throughout the region owned by a big American corporation. Still, shattered illusions can't remain long in an environment like this....

....because back at the conference the mood is positively bouyant. Somehow the fusion of Balinese wellbeing, Asian dynamism and travel industry optimism has created a brew so heady that one speaker can declare - with no apparent irony -"In August the region was 28% down, now... we're only 21% down!" Bless.

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