• Maria Grzywacz

Bali in times of Corona

I might be a slow traveller, but I’m still a traveller. And surely, COVID-19, or rather its murky shadow is effecting me too. I am currently based in Bali, a popular tourist destination, but at the same time, a part of the country that about a month ago was confronted (by both independent academics and other government leaders) with the fact that they may be underreporting cases of the Coronavirus in Indonesia (read here & here).

In this post, I want to offer some insider perspective from Bali as well as general thoughts on travelling right now.


Slow traffic due to Corona

Flights are getting cancelled, people don’t make it to the retreats they have booked, businesses are suffering, the tourist traffic is definitely less in Ubud right now. I teach yoga in a few places, and everywhere I see a decline in the number of guests/retreat participants. That, of course, saddens me, as I want the Balinese local businesses to keep up their traffic, and well… I want to stay busy too!

But the “hit” is real. Bali is receiving fewer tourists now, for sure.

As far, as I know, Bali hasn’t enforced travel bans on any specific nationalities, however, you will not be allowed to enter Indonesia/Bali if you’ve been to China in 2020. Hence, some of the slower traffic is due to Indonesia’s own rules, however, most cases are caused by bans from the travellers’ home countries or airline cancellations.


Is Bali unsafe to travel to?

Maybe! As mentioned above, Indonesia has been accused of underreporting cases of contamination, so whatever the media or even allegedly scientific reports claim, the data might have been… manipulated. In the media, Bali might have been projected/manipulated to seem safer than it really is, namely in order not to lose the island’s main money stream - the tourists.

Indonesia is the world’s fourth-most densely populated countries, which does make it a location in which the virus would spread easily. I am not sure of the population density of Bali, however, the many pristine nature locations allow to escape the crowds. Technically speaking, you can arrive in Bali perfectly well and healthy and hibernate is a village somewhere, only surrounded by people who haven’t ever been on a plane.


My life in Bali in times of Corona

I haven’t changed much about my life here, to be honest. I wash my hands more often, and now I have a hand sanitizer that I bought in Thailand and brought back with me to Indonesia. I also stopped using my bamboo straw and committed to stainless steel, as it’s easier to clean.

In the airport and on the plane to Thailand I wore a mask (the airport staff was wearing them too) - there was a higher risk of coming in contact with someone who carries the virus. And even though I am well and healthy, and for me, Corona might not mean anything more than the flu, I still have better things to do than lying flat in my bed with the flu. That said, no one, at least in Ubud, walks in sanitary masks on a daily basis.


Coronavirus and eco-awareness

A very interesting issue to address here! A recent piece by Zero Waste Chef bluntly asks whether the threat of Corona might kill the Zero Waste movement.

The extreme, sudden need for “clean” sanitary products like masks is powering the demand for single-use. And singe use means multi waste. Masks, wipes, etc. are being discarded carelessly, and all the hand sanitizers come packaged in non-reusable plastic.

Also, there are many people who believe that eg. bottled water from a convenience store is safer to drink than filtered water in restaurants, and I believe that a general rise in “sterility” awareness, powers some of the extreme cases too. If you are a hygiene freak (pardon my bluntness, but if you happen to be one, you surely know it), the potential threat of Corona will only make it worse. And sadly, most of the cleaning and sanitizing products available are single-use and either contain or are wrapped in plastic.


Hence, yes, Corona does have an impact on the amounts of waste created (both while travelling but also in our home environments). On top of that, we see that some companies pause the use of reusable cups and containers due to COVID-19 concerns (Canada). (The interesting thing is the fact that the companies mentioned in the article will still honour the discount that bringing one’s own cup might result in it, however, the cup/container itself will not be used.)


Natural healing from Corona

My friend Jezza, who knows my concern for the Corona as well as my passion for natural/plant medicine has recently shared with me a newsletter by an Australian naturopath who listed loads of natural remedies and various adaptogens to boost the immune system. Cherie Path runs Vibrant Life Clinic; consulting and helping her clients with evidence-based natural medicine. In the newsletter, Cherie shared an article by Stephen Buhner, a Master Herbalist from Kentucky, in which Buhner outlines the most powerful plant remedies that protect the body from the Virus. The science still doesn't know whether viruses, in general, can be killed, which is why the safest way to heal it is... prevention. I am not a herbalist, and will therefore not share any advice here. Personally, I can say that sticking to a diet that helps me alkalize the body (plant-based, mostly raw), allowing the body to rest and staying hydrated are the three main pillars of my self-care and disease-prevention practice.


How to live (and maintain sanity) in times of Corona?

I would never answer the question “how to live”, but I don’t see times of Corona be any different from… just life, really. I take care of my health not only when there’s a WHO-declared international epidemic. I eat healthily, nourish my body and try to protect my immune system at all times, which is what I’d encourage anyone to do. At all times!

Maybe Corona is a humbling wake-up call, a tragic-comic memento mori to bring us back to appreciating “simple things” like good health or the ability to travel freely? Maybe it’s here to tell the world to slow down, realign, drop the crazy pace.


Now, let’s go back to the idea that the microcosm resembles the macrocosm. With us humans, if we get a disease, it’s often to show us that something in the body is imbalanced. That the immune system is weak, that we might need to slow down, etc. What if epidemics are that, for the planet? And maybe it’s not at all, but it might be a challenging perspective to adapt, to bring the focus away from our condensed micro-worlds and view the entire situation thorough a wider lens.

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© 2020 by Maria Grzywacz