Bali as it was. Bali Indonesia 4

Bali as it was. 

As one knows, change is inevitable. My first trip to Bali was in December 1998. I spent Christmas and the New Year here and while it was very memorable, it matters more to me now than it did back then.  

When I first arrived, there were no travel restrictions, no bomb threats and certainly decades away from our friend COVID. Simpler times they were, and I wish to return but I have forgotten where I parked my time machine.  

Oddly enough Bali was busy even back then. It was a different type of busy. I remember sitting in the coffee shop, people walking past as they do today. Their focus however is very different. Back then families walked together, talked laughed and shopped. The advent of social media was not the be-all and end-all of our daily focus. The days passed slower, and I feel I enjoyed the island so much more back then than I do today. Not because I don’t enjoy it today, it is however very different.  

Not just me, I assume. 

We hear of the crazy stories of people passing away to get that perfect Instagram photo. The entitled social media influencer was nowhere to be seen in 1999. Right now, the focus on TikTok by mostly younger women is what they did, what they ate and who wore the smallest bikini.  

This pressure to create and generate endless hours of content is rampant. Not only is social media anxiety-inducing, but I am sure it plays a great deal with the mental health of every individual involved. Today’s tourist sets out to get great content and does not pay attention to the life around the content itself. Go, film, edit, post and repeat. Tourism used to be about getting away from it all, not getting faxes, phone calls and attending meetings. Today you can go away on vacation, and get any number of emails, calls and zoom meetings from the office. Work from home, work from abroad, work from anywhere and relax nowhere.  

Bali of old. 

Oddly enough on one of my trips to Bali, we had gotten an offer on our house in Canada and had to wait for the faxes to come through. Signed PDF email copies were not yet accepted as a real offer. Communication was hard and the connection on the island was mostly terrible and yet that was a good thing. How times have changed in both business and personal life.  

My now retired family doctor from Canada always came to Bali for holidays in January or February. He always stayed at Four Seasons Ubud and came only to relax. Those days of relaxation and disconnect are no longer available. We are all too easily reachable and we reach out much the same. Take this pic and that pic, post it here and there, hours pass before you stop scrolling and get back to your supposed relaxation. Until you see that other post-able pic and repeat the process.  

No longer do we take rolls of film to be processed and wait anxiously to sit and look through the photos and relive the memories of the family trip. Now the trip is documented nearly by the minute or the hour, the day or at least the week. When our fingers are not busy scrolling our minds do it for us. There is no disconnect.  

I miss heading out to the middle of nowhere and not being anywhere near a phone, getting home and listening to voicemails from my aunt and uncle.  

Way back. 

While it happens to this day, if you travel far enough off the beaten path, you can experience the Bali of old, sort of. In the villages, kids will still play outside and run around naked to the rivers and bathe.  

Families will take their kids to the rivers and gather around sunset. While there is always a cell phone or handphone as they refer to it here it feels different. Their purpose of being there is not to take that perfect selfie and wait for it to get likes, their purpose is to enjoy the time with family. We should all strive to get back to those times.  

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Published by Zsolt Zsemba

Zsolt Zsemba has worn many different hats. He has been an entrepreneur, and businessman for over 30 years. Living abroad has given him many amazing experiences in life and also sparked his imagination for writing. After moving to Canada from Hungary at the age of 10 and working in a family business for a large part of his life. The switch from manufacturing to writing came surprisingly easily for him. His passion for writing began at age 12, mostly writing poetry and short stories. In 1999, the chance came to write scripts. Zsolt took some time off from his family business to write in Jakarta Indonesia for MD Entertainment. Having written dozens of soap operas and made for TV movies, in 2003 Zsolt returned to the family business once more. In 2018, he had the chance to head back to Asia once again. He took on the challenge to be the COO for MD Pictures and get back into the entertainment business. The entertainment business opened up the desire to write once more and the words began to flow onto the pages again. He decided to rewrite a book he began years ago. Organ House was reborn and is a fiction suspense novel while Scars is a young adult drama focused on life’s challenges. After the first two books, his desire to write not only became more challenging but enjoyable as well. After having several books completed he was convinced to publish them for your enjoyment. Zsolt does not tend to stay in one specific genre but tends to lean towards strong female leads and horror. Though he also has a few human interest books, he tends to write about whatever brews in his brain for a while.

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