Balinese Serenity and Mt Agung

Yesterday I was listening to Raf Epstein on ABC’s afternoon drive time radio. He was interviewing a tourist who was stuck in Bali due to the closure of Ngurah Rai airport in Bali as ash continues to pour from the erupting Mount Agung, Bali’s most prominent active volcano. Like many other tourists whose flights have been cancelled, this chap wasn’t too perturbed. He sounded jolly, amused even and serene. He was sitting by the pool eating chicken. A few more weeks in Bali with glorious weather and tasty Balinese food- what’s not to like. Raf made no mention, in this instance, of the significance of Mt Agung’s eruption to the lives of the Balinese people. It was all a bit of a joke really, ‘enjoy your chicken by the pool’ was Raf’s closing comment. It’s a similar story in the Australian press. Pictures of closed airports, or tourists milling about as airports open once again with only occasional glimpses into the lives of those hugely affected- the Balinese people.

Serene under the water.

While Mt Agung makes up its mind, 44,000 people have left the danger zone and are waiting. Many more thousands have returned to the exclusion zone to tend their cattle and farms. The Balinese economy is fragile: despite the lush fertility of the country, farmers live a very simple subsistence lifestyle. Those who have returned have had to weigh up the cost of continuing with their farms, crops and cattle with the threat of a possible disaster. What a choice!

Mt Agung in a serene mood

Meanwhile, the Balinese economy is completely dependent on tourism. For months now, many sectors have been affected. Those working directly in tourist industries, such as hotels, hospitality, transport, mountain climbing and adventure, have been without wages for some months.

rare glimpse of Agung in the morning.

Gunung Agung, a sacred mountain, is revered by the Balinese. When Agung is active and threatens to erupt, it indicates that the Gods are displeased and something in the world is awry. The Balinese have been praying, or counting their losses, or worrying about their homes and livelihood: meanwhile tourists will either kick back by the pool and rejoice in their lengthened holiday, will be checking their travel insurance policies to see how much they might be financially inconvenienced, or travelling by ferry to Lombok for another flight home. Life’s tough.



15 thoughts on “Balinese Serenity and Mt Agung”

  1. This makes beautiful photo viewing and difficult reading. Yes, I had read the ‘watching of Mount Agung’ for quite awhile now but you have advisedly put the hard economic facts there for us to understand. Indeed, may the holy mountain’s growl quickly subside and may an already difficult lifestyle for those seemingly living in paradise revert to peace and harmony and . . . hard work.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shall be thinking of you and hoping for all the best closer to home – nought else on the news at the moment but the rain you are about to get: if it will be close to 300 mm it will be disastrous for so many in Victoria . . . .

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sometimes these predictions turn out to be fizzers. We need the rain desperately though not quite that much. I’m having a rain party here on Saturday. The Western district farmers don’t need this volume – we will see. Thanks for your kind thoughts Eha.


    2. Life is pretty tough of the Balinese. Behind their lovely smiling faces, there is hard work, spiritual beliefs and often a struggle which most westerners take for granted.


  2. Well said Eha. There are just too many hours of time for the media to fill and often these ill considered ‘fluff pieces’ are produced. I want to stay up on current events but it means having to wade through the dreck sometimes. Thank you for your thoughts, Francesca. Absolutely gorgeous photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I did wonder about the focus on trapped tourists when so many of the local people were crowding into makeshift camps, some having brought chickens with them to help provide food. I doubt that there is ‘insurance’ of any sort to look after those people – and if the volcano really does blow, their land and livelihood will be blown to smithereens too. It seemed so silly to be huffing and puffing at the lack of flights and information when to risk flying through ash clouds could be disastrous and volcanos by their very nature are highly unpredictable. Your photos are lovely, Francesca.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The same trapped tourists have been well informed about the imminent event for some months now so you would wonder why they might carry on about being stuck.
      Yes, if that volcano goes, their land will be unusable for at least two years, their houses and crops and animals destroyed. The Balinese are such spiritual and gentle people- they are in my heart.


  4. Shame on the press for making light of this catastrophe to the local population and focusing on tourists. BBC also made much of the closed airports and inconveniences to tourists, but there was one (in depth) article yesterday interviewing local people. Whatever the case, I love the calm photographs of the pink flower on the blue water.

    Liked by 1 person

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