The History of Tourism on Bali
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Aug 23, 2012 6:18 AM Last Post By: dwdw
Aug 21, 2012 8:53 PM
The History of Tourism on BaliUrged by a follower of an unrelated discussion on another string, I am presenting a short history of tourism on Bali.
The first documented “tourist” to visit Bali was a Dutch Member of Parliament, Herr H. Van Kol. He is considered a tourist because he was not on official business. He was in Bali to enjoy himself. He had just been to Sumatra and Java and arrived in Bali on July 4, 1902. He visited Klungkung and Karangasem. When he returned to Holland he wrote a book titled Uit Onze Kolonien, (Out of our Colonies) which was published in Leiden in 1902. Within its 826 pages, 123 are devoted to Bali.
From a strictly commercial point of view, the Dutch were the first to recognize the potential revenues and business potential that Bali offered with tourism. The Dutch opened a tourist bureau in Batavia (present day Jakarta) in 1908. Its purpose was to promote tourism in the Dutch East Indies and its scope was extended to Bali in 1914.
With the introduction of a regular weekly KPM steamship from Java to Bali in 1924, tourism here in Bali really began to take off. The typical schedule, or itinerary, was that the passengers disembarked on a Friday morning in Singaraja, made a round trip of the island by car, and left to return to Java on Sunday.
By 1925, Bali was already the focus of several travel agencies and travel businesses both in Holland and in England.
Among the first of the British companies promoting tourist to Bali was The Orient Touring Company. Their “Blue Bird Badge” logo is today easily recognized as the logo for one of the largest transportation company in Indonesia, The Blue Bird Group based in Jakarta.
If you use the link below you will see the cover of a 160 page guide book published in 1925 by the Orient Touring Company based in England which was associated with both the American Express Co. in the US and Thomas Cook & Son in England.
Within this guide book one can also find what is most likely the first advertisement for a Bali based travel agency, the Minas-Roosevelt tourist office in Singaraja…again…this dating from 1925. A link to that 1925 advertisement is below:
The author of the Bali section of this very early guide book is a mister W. R. Foran who makes some very interesting observations about his 1925 visit to Bali within the 25 pages devoted to Bali…each page being illustrated with a black and white photograph. Among his most prophetic observations:
“Bali, the island immediately east of Java, is so easily accessible that it must inevitably be flooded with tourists…the day is not far distant when more pasanggrahans (rest-houses) will be erected to cope with the steadily growing volume of visitors.”
Prophetic, indeed it was.
The first international hotel on Bali was built by the colonial Dutch in Denpasar in 1926 and was called The Bali Hotel. That hotel was built on the site of the 1906 Denpasar Puputan by the Balinese against the Dutch (soon followed by the better known 1908 Puputan in Klungkung). The next notable hotel to follow The Bali Hotel was the Natour which was built in 1927, also in Denpasar. There were a number of other hotels built in Denpasar as well as in Singaraja.
Popular books which covered Bali, especially those which were lavishly illustrated with photographs also had a decidedly important impact on promoting Bali as a “must see” destination for those able to afford the expense and time associated with such a visit at that time. These books first started to appear in earnest in the 1920’s, and the earliest book attributed to most stimulating travel to Bali was written by a German doctor, Gregor Krause. Titled “Bali” it was first published in 1920. This is the book that most inspired Miguel Covarrubias to first visit Bali in 1930. This fact is noted by Covarrubias himself in the introduction to his own book, arguably the most important book about Bali written in the 1930’s “Island of Bali.” Other authors who contributed literary works inspiring pre WW II interest in Bali were W.O.J. Nieuwenkamp, Colin McPhee, Walter Spies, Geoffrey Gorer, Walter Dreesen, and Ardaser Wadia among others.
A consistent philosophy that connects the early tourism industry on Bali to these earliest books written about Bali is the presentation of Bali as a Garden of Eden. The emphasis in all these earliest works is on the culture, the arts and the way of life of the Balinese, or “children of nature” as some early authors referred to them. Scanning the hundreds of photos to be found within these various works…books and guide books, one will very seldom encounter a beach front scene unless it is illustrating Balinese fishermen.
The onset of WWII brought tourism as originally envisioned by the Dutch and English to an end. Tourism in Bali would not see a resurgence until the end of the Indonesian War of Independence, and that recent history of tourism on Bali is all too well known.
Aug 21, 2012 9:13 PM
Aug 21, 2012 9:17 PM
2We all know you are still a beginner with Bahasa Indonesia Roy so let me enlighten you. The expression is kasihan dulu. Not "Cassian dulu".
Aug 21, 2012 9:24 PM
Aug 21, 2012 9:27 PM
4Cassian dulu Lol.
15 years you've been living in Indonesia? Time to start taking some Bahasa Indonesia lessons...
Aug 21, 2012 9:40 PM
5Back to the original post, which might be of interest to readers beyond the juvenile games that some posters enjoy, I meant to add one other source of inspiration for the interest in Bali during the pre WW II years.
Early visits to Bali by famous artists also inspired keen interest, and among the very first was the Russian born American, Maurice Sterne who lived on Bali during the years 1912 to 1915. His famous paintings of Bali prompted the then well known art critic, Harry Salpeter to pronounce Sterne as “one of America’s most important modern artists, the man who discovered Bali for the Western World.”
While that comment can be taken as exaggerated, it does reflect the perception of the importance of his art during that time, and other artists contributed to this increased awareness and appreciation of Bali as well.
Aug 21, 2012 11:39 PM
Aug 21, 2012 11:44 PM
7@ post #14:
"I´m very interested in reading about the colonial times in Indonesia and the pre masstourism times. History being my favorite topic."
Then be sure to check timdog's profile as he has authored quite a lot of excellent material, especially regarding the role of the British in Indonesian colonial times.
Also check drbruce, as his current research and writing is about the role of the Bugis from Makassar in Singaraja. While the Bugis were obviously not colonialists, they played a highly important role in the history of this once most important colonial city in Bali.
"and if you have an issue with the OP why not post a PM to him instead."
He did, and I'm ignoring them.
Thanks also to napper. A little encouragement goes a long way. :<)
Aug 22, 2012 12:10 AM
Aug 22, 2012 1:01 AM
9What the hell does "kasihan/kasian dulu" mean?
I am familiar with a phrase, often used somewhat sarcastically/mockingly - "kasihan deh lu". Sometimes it's spelt "kasihan dech loe". Hell, there's even a song named for the phrase.
It means something like Hahaha! Bad luck, you! Is that, perhaps, what you had in mind?
"Lu" is a Betawi pronoun, borrowed, like its partner "gue", from Hokkien dialect.
Kasihan dech the pair of you...
Aug 22, 2012 1:58 AM
10The meaning, at least as I’m most familiar with it, and as often used here in my neck of the woods in Bali, is akin to rubbing the inside edge of your right index finger back and forth over the fingernail of the thumb from your same hand indicating something like playing on the world’s smallest violin “my heart bleeds for you.”
I suppose it’s somewhat mocking and sarcastic, but in a playful manner, and generally evoking laughter.
It’s normally taken to mean that whatever the complaint being heard…in the end, the complaint is mild and of no real consequence.
Kasian (or kasihan) dech…did you mean deceh (also spelled decih), and why the “pair of you?”
Aug 22, 2012 2:49 AM
11Why "the pair of you"? Because it was a ten-post rally between two people apparently scoffing at each other over a common colloquial phrase that both had got rather badly wrong...
(I'll make an admission - when I first came across the phrase, many moons ago, I misheard dech lu as "dulu" too, and was rather puzzled by the etymology as it didn’t seem to make much sense. Then one day I tried to use it on some Indonesian colleagues, who predictably roared with laughter - at me, not with me - then threw it right back at me, and set me straight...)
Anyway, all that silliness aside, thanks for an interesting post, MadeIndra; it's a fascinating topic.
Of course, some might claim that the real "first tourists" were those two sailors Cornelis de Houtman left behind in Gelgel in 1596.
Their legend was certainly seized upon by the paradise-creators of the 20th century, who insisted on making them happy little campers, waving to the departing fleet (reduced to one ship by this stage) and then merrily turning their backs on the ocean to sip fresh coconut milk beneath the palm trees and to frolic with fragrant bare-breasted maidens with frangipani flowers in their jet black hair…
One particular inveterate expat… um… personage, a certain landscape gardener by the name of Michael White (though he trades under another moniker), certainly references them in his own self-made legend of “jumping ship”…
Truth is, however, we have no idea why they were left behind, but given the state of de Houtman’s mob – whose voyage from Europe had been something of a protracted barroom brawl, until they found natives to massacre – they’re as likely to have been deliberately marooned by their betters amongst the savages as to have chosen to stay behind in paradise. This is a point very much worth considering given that for the next 300 years the popular perception of Bali amongst foreigners was more likely to be of a dreadful place, ruled by “treacherous warring chieftains” and full of all sorts of uncouth practices…
Aug 22, 2012 3:29 AM
12One of the great things about Google is its ability to out plagiarism. You can thank Ibu Murni for a rather large chunk of that unattributed information on the history of tourism in Bali...
Aug 22, 2012 4:07 AM
Fair enough Timdog, regarding the pair.
Regarding Houtman, of course I’d hate to think of tourists in the same light as potential conquerors or those hell bent on domination and colonialization, which is of course why I left Cornelius de Houtman (and his crew) entirely out of the loop on any discussion regarding early tourism in Bali.
As you well know, Houtman, who was representing Dutch interests as an early explorer in the East Indies, found his visits here shortly thereafter culminating with the formation of the VOC (the Dutch East Indies Trading Company) in 1602.
“Of course, some might claim that the real "first tourists" were those two sailors Cornelis de Houtman left behind in Gelgel in 1596.”
As for the sailors that jumped ship on his visit to Bali in 1597, they are more the first “expats” to Bali, rather than tourists, don’t you think? Hopefully, tourists are more prone to “Eat, Pay, Leave.” If all “tourists” since 1597 stayed, what a different place Bali would be today. No, they weren’t tourists, as they came in a very official capacity. Moreover, if one wanted to regard any of the Houtman voyagers as tourists, then it would only be logical to include all of them and not to single out the sailors who deserted.
The first published account of Houtman’s visit to present day Indonesia is vividly recalled by Theodore de Bry (and his sons) in his seminal and highly important work generally referred today as the Petit Voyages.
In de Bry’s account of Houtman’s voyage, their visit to Bali was not only uneventful, but rather pleasant.
The Petits Voyages was first published in German text in 1598, and in Latin text in 1601. De Bry died after the first seven parts of the Grands Voyages had appeared in print but the copperplate engravings were to be continued initially by his two sons, Johann Theodore de Bry and Johann Israel de Bry, then by his grand son-in-law, Mattheüs Merian.
The account you cite of the deserting sailors is not found in any historical text I know of that dates from that period:
“Their legend was certainly seized upon by the paradise-creators of the 20th century, who insisted on making them happy little campers, waving to the departing fleet (reduced to one ship by this stage) and then merrily turning their backs on the ocean to sip fresh coconut milk beneath the palm trees and to frolic with fragrant bare-breasted maidens with frangipani flowers in their jet black hair…”
What fanciful revisionist “historical” account does that come from?
Ah yes, Made Wijaya! LOL!
Well done timdog…a truly fun read.
@ post #21:
Wayan Murni and her companion/co-author, Jonathan Copeland, are very good friends of mine bonek, but don’t take my word on that…just ask them yourself.
The information that I’ve relayed is very well known…or at least it is among those who know the history of Bali.
In the preparation of my original post I used a variety of reliable sources for information, Copeland/Murni being just one. When it becomes necessary to footnote forum posts, please be sure to let me know.
I also wrote the first book reviews of their most recent collaboration, their book titled "Secrets of Bali." We have a long and mutually rewarding friendship, and you might consider keeping your nose out of it.
You might also consider keeping your foot out of your mouth and trying out another shaving cream other than egg on your face.
Aug 22, 2012 10:19 PM
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