Bali trip: Photos show how unrecognizable the former island paradise Australians love is
Travelers who have ventured to Bali to relive memories of the island beloved by Australians for decades have been stunned by the impacts of the pandemic on the region.
Indonesia lifted quarantine rules for fully vaccinated visitors, ending a two-year border closure, and Australian tourists wasted no time returning to the island’s shores.
But those lucky enough to board some of the earliest flights have found that the holiday hotspot is not the bustling party destination they remember.
Photos posted on social media show the once-bustling Popies Street, just off Kuta Beach, deserted, overgrown and buildings in disrepair.
Many favorite bars, tattoo parlors, shops and hotels are said to have been reclaimed by the jungle.
Travelers who have ventured to Bali to relive memories of a beach loved by Australians for decades have been stunned by the impacts of the pandemic on the region. (Pictured, a street near Kuta Beach was literally overgrown in late March)
Shocking photos of the lanes around Kuta Beach, a favorite holiday destination for Australians for years, show most businesses packed their bags years ago
Some Balinese beaches were teeming with travelers as tourists from 23 countries are allowed to enter Indonesia. But supporting businesses were devastated
The streets around Kuta Beach on the southwest coast of the island have been branded as a ghost town.
Bars and restaurants like the Victory, Secret Garden, Tree House and Bali Agung appeared closed with weeds growing on the buildings.
“I took a walk down memory lane visiting Gang Poppies,” Cara Buchanan, a South Australian, wrote on the Kuta community’s Facebook page.
‘Buildings [were] collapsing due to neglect, businesses closed and the street literally overgrown.
Rebecca, from Sydney, echoed the reaction of many when she described the photos as “incredible”.
Colin, from south-east Perth, said the photos were “heartbreaking”.
The Victory Hotel on Popies Street in 2022 was closed and overgrown
The same place, Victory Hotel, before the Covid pandemic. It hasn’t seen a tourist trade in years
Popies Lane near Kuta Beach is pictured in March 2020, at the start of the pandemic
“I’ve spent most of my 50+ trips to Bali staying within 50m of these photos. It’s heartbreaking to see they’ve just been crushed.
“I can only hope that over time it can come back.”
Darryl, from Geelong, who is also on vacation in Kuta at the moment, confirmed that the beloved beach township was eerily quiet.
“Anyone who wants to know what’s going on in Bali right now. I just uploaded videos and photos from yesterday.
“On average, I would say one in 10 stores are open. Cafes 1 out of 20. Not even discovery mall or matahari is open.
Some Australians, like Tammy from Perth, were more optimistic.
‘If one place can come back, it’s Bali. They are some of the hardest workers of all time.
Photos from the start of the Covid pandemic showed empty streets in Kuta, but shopkeepers still held out hope that tourists would return (Pictured: Poppies Lane in 2020)
A remarkable 1.23 million Australians visited Bali in 2019, but the effect of two years of border closures on the township is evident in 2022
“One day gardening and a bit of cleaning and back to business!” writes Patricia from Melbourne.
Ms Buchanan said Kuta was still nice for a family vacation even though it was quiet.
“There are no backpackers, so as a family with young children, we enjoy the space and the freedom of drunk people to be stupid,” she told 7News.
Many fear Bali’s tourism industry will not recover for some time after being crushed by the pandemic
Previously, Kuta was a 24-hour party destination loved by generations of Australians who flocked there for holidays during the pandemic. However, the famous party capital is more like a ghost town shut down by travel bans
Some YouTubers posted content showing Seminyak Beach, 15 minutes north, looking much busier, although Victorian woman Roxy confirmed it was still quiet.
“If you were hesitant to come, don’t be! It’s super quiet, it’s heartbreaking how many things are permanently blocked/closed, but so many things are still the same.
Sara, who lives in Bali, confirmed that many bars were closed, such as a popular venue, Mono Chunky Chunks, between Legian and Kuta.
RULES FOR AUSSIES ENTERING BALI
VACCINATED AND TESTED: All travelers must be double vaccinated and submit a negative PCR test result within 48 hours of departure
PROOF OF PURCHASE: Proof of paid accommodation for four nights is required as well as travel insurance
VISA: Travelers must also pay for a visa to enter Bali, this can be done at the airport
MORE PAPER: Travelers must also complete two forms – a health alert card and a customs declaration form
ANOTHER PCR TEST: Once in Bali, travelers will be required to undergo another PCR test and self-isolate until they test negative