Courtney and I just arrived back from a week-long visit to Bali, Indonesia, where we took the opportunity to relax and meet the man behind our Paddle Dogs Australia clothing range, Dewa.
It was really nice to be greeted at the airport by Dewa and his good friend, Berry. They were really excited to meet us and showed great appreciation of our relationship by gifting us with a beautiful plaque with our PDA logo on it. It was also a great opportunity to talk about ideas going forward into the future and collaborating future production goals.
One of the key messages that we conveyed with Dewa was our passion to eliminate plastic from our brand. We are looking into better ways to package our clothes, ensuring that the sustainable practices continue beyond the production phase; from freight to the moment our customers receive their package. It was through a simple discussion (and good old Google Translator) that we were able to describe that vision.
In Bali, it was quite mind blowing to see the current state of the streets. The last time I visited Bali was in 2010, and there was a noticeable difference in the increased development of hotels and cafes for the ever growing tourism industry that is present. Despite the progressive development in Bali, it was shocking to see that they still lack access to clean drinking water and as such, are forced to buy bottled water. Perhaps, it is shocking because we are so use to being able to drink beautiful, fresh water from our taps without ever thinking about it running out or worrying that it will make us sick. And perhaps, we are naive to think that with the progressive development this should come hand in hand with upgraded facilities such as water and waste management. This reliability on plastic is evermore troubling because of the lack of waste management they have in place, paired with a lack of education about the detrimental effects the misplacement of plastic can have on the environment.
It really saddens us because the demand for modern infrastructure appears to only cater for tourism, with little to no benefit trickling down to the local people. Bali is a popular tourist destination known for its striking landscapes, surf beaches and beautiful coral reefs. With that, one would expect that the government would at least try and encourage the maintenance and sustainability of the area to encourage continued visitation. But it is clear that the 'Americanisation' of the island masks such needs for improvement. And while on the topic, it is so clear that the Western tourists try and take advantage of the locals wherever possible, even if it means screwing them down that extra dollar just to feel like they got a deal, then walking off happy not realising that the dollar meant a lot more to that local than it ever would to them. When talking with one of the locals (he was in his 20's) he mentioned that he earns the equivalent of $200.00 AUD per month working at a bar in a 4 star hotel in Canggu, which is confronting because back home thats what the average person in their 20's earns in a day. And of course, their cost of living is much lower, but we need to think when buying goods and services from these people "does buying this item $2 cheaper really matter to me". We must begin to push for mindfulness when visiting other countries, and treading as light as possible.
It was surprising to hear that sea turtles still come to the island, even at the busier beaches around Kuta to nest. Unfortunately, we just missed out on seeing baby turtles hatching and making their journey down the beach, but our friends sent us a video while we were at the airport awaiting our flight home. This event was spectacular non the less, however, these baby turtles would literally be climbing over plastic straws and dodging tourists on their way down the beach. Again, it wasn't clear that there were any local environmental groups keeping a watchful eye on the turtles despite this occurring at such a busy week. A local in Seminyak a week prior also mentioned turtles hatching on the beach and that there were "tourists everywhere getting close and taking photos". Which only makes you cringe when you think of how close people might have gotten to get the "perfect photo".
In saying that, there are people in the community actively trying to make positive changes. One night we dined at a restaurant in Canggu called ‘The Slow'. We were really impressed with their conscious effort to provide alternative options to single-us items. Instead of paper napkins they were using hand towels as an alternative. The straw that was used in our drinks was made of glass and some of the dishes was served on recycled paper. On top of that, the food was amazing and locally sourced.
During our time in Bali we were also faced with the frightening 7.0 magnitude earthquake which struck on Sunday evening in Lombok. Being only 100km away from the epicentre we definitely felt the shock from this disaster. It was a scary scene, being at the top floor of our hotel feeling the building shake and sway. It was followed by a series of aftershocks that made for that night’s sleep to be very interrupted and unsettled. Again, being that we live in such a safe country, it was a situation that we didn't exactly know how to react to. It is trip like this, no matter how beautiful the local scenery and people are, it truly makes you appreciate the country we live in and the quality of life we have. Our hearts go out to those affected in the disaster and that have lost loved ones, and are proud of the Australian's that stayed behind to give a helping hand while these people awaited emergency services.