Modernity and tradition in the cultural center of Bali

In the heart of Bali's cultural center, Ubud, a battle for identity is unfolding. The once peaceful city, known for its spiritual symbols and lush greenery, now struggles with the encroachment of modernity led by Russian investors. A prime example is the 'Hidden City' project, an unprecedented scale development that will engulf three hectares of forest behind the famous 'Eat Pray Love' complex.

The Hidden City: Unveiling Ubud's New Reality

The 'Hidden City' project is a stark contrast to traditional Balinese architecture and lifestyle. It also has 100 homes, shops, restaurants, a gym and a night club. However, it was not designed to be inhabited by local residents. Instead, it caters to foreign investors and digital nomads who increasingly call Ubud home.

Puspita and her husband Kede, who runs a guest house in Ubud, are among those watching the change with trepidation. „We fear that our culture is being destroyed,” shares Puspita, her voice echoing the sentiments of many locals. Similar concerns are emerging around projects such as 'Park', another development aimed at promoting foreigner arrivals.

Cultural clashes and eroding traditions

Cultural differences between the local community and newcomers are increasing. Complaints about noise pollution, late-night parties and disregard for local customs are on the rise. Also, due to the influx of foreign investments and rising property prices, local residents are finding it difficult to afford houses in their native lands.

The tension goes beyond cultural differences. Rapid growth also raises environmental concerns. Temesi Recycling, an Indonesian company founded in 2004 to process and recycle organic waste, is closing its doors due to challenging market conditions. Initially called the Gianyar Waste Recovery Project, it is the first Indonesian organization to complete the Clean Development Mechanism process of the Kyoto Protocol, which enables the sale of carbon credits.

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Demacy recycling: A casualty of rapid development

Despite producing 30 tonnes of compost per day, Temesi Recycling could not compete with subsidized fertilizers and unfair market conditions. The closure of this pioneering recycling company underscores the challenges facing eco-friendly initiatives in Ubud and the broader issue of cultural erosion due to rapid development.

As Ubud continues to develop, the question remains: Can it embrace modernity and maintain its cultural heritage? The answer lies in striking a delicate balance between progress and security, the challenge facing many societies around the world today.

Back in Ubud, Puspita and Gede continue to run their guesthouse, hoping that amid the clamor of construction and foreign chatter, the spirit of their ancestral land lives on. Their story is a poignant reminder of the human element in the dance between tradition and modernity.

A sign of Ubud's rapid development, the 'Hidden City' project stands in stark contrast to the city's spiritual symbolism. The influx of foreign investors and digital nomads attracted by projects like 'Park' is causing tension with the local community due to cultural differences and the erosion of traditional ways of life.

Meanwhile, the Temesi recycling closure highlights the challenges recycling companies face in Ubud and the wider issue of cultural erosion due to rapid development in the region. As the once peaceful city grapples with its new reality, the struggle to preserve its identity continues.

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