Bali New Settlers – What’s Next?

The traffic is next level nowadays.
I reside on the north side of The Great Wall of Canggu. This means every day by 2pm the only way in and out of Canggu, or at least Berawa, are congesting more than a wet market attendant’s nose in Beijing, no way in or out. If you are in a car forget it. Abandon ship ASAP. You’re better off walking except you are likely to be hit by some crazed motorbike rider most probably high on something trying to escape the reality of the new Bali traffic. Some days it’s not so bad—you can fly through the wall without even stopping, but they are few and you have to give thanks for such moments.

During Covid it was different. I used to pop the dogs in the back of the old Kijang and trundle off to Double Six Beach without a care and the wind in my hair. It would take 15 to 20 minutes from Berawa, unless there was a hold up in front of Monsieur Spoon or somewhere with some random uber-large Jakarta plated Alpha trying to park. That could hold you back enough time to go in and buy a croissant. The beach was like some deserted island without a person, umbrella or day bed in sight. Just the sound of the cracking waves as they broke on the pristine white sand.

Fast forward to now. It does make you wonder where all the traffic comes from nowadays. I read that international tourist numbers are running at about 40% of pre-covid numbers. The Chinese aren’t even back. Obviously, there are many local domestic tourists continually arriving (with their cars), but there are no concrete figures on that hand. Possibly there is another answer for this traffic/jam phenomenon and that could be that half the people arriving here aren’t going home again. Are they coming here with one-way tickets and setting up shop? It makes you wonder.

All that time to think about life, or the lack of it, during lockdown in some god-forsaken part of the world looking at pretty pictures of this tropical island on Instagram may have done it. “That’s it, I’m outta here!” is heard as a collective rush or stampede for the gate at airports around the world heralded the beginning of the re-opening of the world – and an opportunity to get away once and for good. The central government has also made it easier for prospective new settlers too with a new 10 year second home visa proposed to open the flood gates even wider come the New Year.

But as another restaurant, bar, store or beach club opens one can only wonder, first, who is going to staff these new fashionable places that are literally opening every week because there aren’t any staff left on the island, and then, who is going to visit them. It’s hard to say. Maybe the new settlers will feed each other’s new venues to keep them alive. But the reality is probably most of them will be gone in the next couple of moons and only the strongest will survive – as usual.

Or maybe not, maybe it all just gets bigger and bigger with more people arriving every day to feed all these new businesses. But then that brings us back to the traffic and lack of new roads to cater to more vehicles and people. #rollyoureyes

These are interesting times on the island and it will be very interesting to see what will happen over the next year. For good or bad, there is no stopping it. Suggestions. Doing your moving around town early in the day, or late at night is a good way forward.

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