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Postcards from an Empty Paradise

Hello everyone, my name is Suzy Hutomo, I’m an environmentalist, as well as the owner of The Body Shop Indonesia and Sustainable Suzy is one of my projects.


Bali is my home. I have been living in Bali for 9 years now!


I’m currently working on a book about Bali and the environment, called Re-thinking Bali. Living in Sanur which is close to the beach, I decided to start writing about my experience in Sanur.


So with Pepeng, my photographer friend, we set out to document what was happening in Sanur.


Our two sets of eyes documented Bali in this project: mine as an environmentalist, and Pepeng as the photographer, discovering environmentalism anew. We sat side by side but often see differently in many ways.


We both see the beauty of Bali - the view as we walk along the shore in the early morning… We were mesmerized! But as an environmentalist, I see many problems behind its beauty. Pepeng and I are sending you Postcards from Bali, Postcards from an empty paradise.

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My Concern: Marine Debris

The problem of plastic waste in Bali is an unending one – when January rolls around, the currents will bring ashore.


Tons and tons of plastic waste from the ocean.  Whether this is as Balinese like to say – Dari jawa – or perhaps it’s from bali’s own rivers… who can say...

Nyepi 2020

Covid Lockdown hits Bali around Nyepi – the day of silence. Bali began its lockdown as and Nyepi was extended to stretch over several days. 

After Nyepi – the beaches and all public spaces were still closed and “pecalang” – the “adat” police were at hand to enforce the closure.


The beach was off limits to the public – you need permission as a local resident in order to enter.


It was shocking to see the usually busy beach – with restaurants boarded – seats upended.


Many hotels decided to store their loungers and beach dining. It was all very eerie.


Some hawkers still insisted on offering their wares – and yet there were no buyers.


It was not easy to take pictures of people – as they did not want anyone to come close. The beach which is usually the hub of activity , has now become a ghost town!


Fear: Everyone

Thinking back to those months in 2020 – after the lockdowns came the reality – that there were no tourists to provide income.

Fear of the virus turned into desperation – how to make a living when 85% of Bali’s economy is dependent on tourism?

Many went back home to their villages – picked up the hoe and returned to farming.

In Sanur – many returned to fishing – and Sanur again returned to a fishing village _ which it was until the 1960’s.


The fishermen would catch enough daily for the family dinner, while waiting for the tourists to return.


Biodiversity in Sanur:
Birds seen out and about

As the lockdown kept humans safe in their homes, it provided a wonderful opportunity for nature to recover!

In the southern end of Sanur is a mangrove forest – and here Birds returned in flocks!

As Pepeng and I watched them… they frolicked in the mangroves and nested in the tall trees without a care.


We spotted so many species who came back because humans were not present.

How many of you know about birds? Can you name some of the ones you know in the chat column?


Below the Waves:
Apart from those pandemic scenery

Anthropause helped nature to recover, but it didn’t help the waste that Humans leave behind in the ocean!

Here is our perspective of what lies beneath the waves.

All of this waste left behind by human activities and they will lie there for hundreds and hundreds of years.

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