One year ago, the world was being hit with something that changed the course of history. Things we knew are not the same anymore; especially in term of travel and tourism. Now, many of us still left wondering; what will happen next? It’s all depends our willingness to improve, adapt and overcome.
‘Four months…this will only goes for four months’, that’s what I’ve been saying to myself every single day after the pandemic first global outbreak, around February of 2020. It’s a wishful thinking, though. From my calculation, we cannot survive this worldwide disaster for more than four months, and with the advanced technology, health system and brilliant scientist teaming up together, we will be able to deconstruct the virus and find its cure. But little did I know how wrong I was that time. Not only the vaccine take years to truly complete (its still ongoing!), me myself was also able to survive until this day; far longer than my own feeble prediction.
COVID-19 hits Bali like a brick wall. It affect the island more than most region and province in Indonesia because most of the population here rely on tourism to sustain. Nobody see it coming at first, we only shrug it off as a distant issue that will immediately solved before it could even spread, but I guess lesson learned for everyone; try to acknowledge a ‘global’ problem before it affect the things around us that we care about.
To say that the pandemic only make the sick suffer would be an understatement; financial wise, it brings everyone in tourism industry down with our face on the ground. Thriving professions in Bali such as photographer, videographer, wedding planner, master of ceremony (MC), band, (tourism-based) publication media and entertainment-based career suddenly have to scramble for income, especially on the first six months of the outbreak. I don’t even want to start discussing about big five-star hotel, villa and resort, because it is definitely harder for them than for us, as they have to resort to unpaid leave or release hundreds of their staffs just to sustain the business. And its really heartbreaking to see places that once bustling with life and joy such as Kuta Beach or Seminyak becoming a quiet, empty town devoid of activities.
Yeah, it is hard, and the situation seems to be so dire. But then again, we always have options. Are we going to be those who wail in despair? constantly expressing anger to the situation? Or we can adapt and overcome by maximizing our resources. Luckily, most of those around me choose the latter; and its really inspiring to see.
One of my friend, an up and rising Master of Ceremony, lost all of his clients during the pandemic period. But rather than just idling around in anger and worry, praying for the period to end, being miserable, he choose to explore his other resources, trying new stuff–not just the glorious, lavish ones, mind you. With one of his friend, he tried to establish a deep cleaning / disinfectant business, and at one point, I recall hearing the story of him brushing up toilet of a client along with his subordinate. His other partner in that cleaning company, once a prominent restaurant consultant, now open a humble nasi goreng (fried rice) street side stall and managed to open two more franchise in just one month!
Stories like these are popping everywhere during the pandemic. About how people can thrive and be successful out of their comfort zone, which amazingly, they admit made more possible by the COVID outbreak. If you would turn your attention from the sickness itself, you will see how much more humanity can do despite all of the disadvantages. Willingness to adapt becomes more crucial than only mastering one or two skills. I’m not underestimating the sickness, many family are affected and lost their loved ones because of the virus. But there is so much more than just despair in this damning period, and we can choose to feed ourselves with positive thoughts to carry on
Even our basic hygiene routine now improved significantly. Most of us would wash our hand more than before the pandemic outbreak now, admit it! And although many people still found that obligation to wear an additional face accessories (read: mask) as a nuisance, but it still protect our respiratory from dust and particle better rather than not wearing it*
(*This statement comes not from a pro-mask activist; personally I would rather not wear anything on my face except glasses, but my point is about the willingness to adapt!)
Now, more than a year later, things are getting better bit by bit. The border and airport is not yet open for international visitors, but there has been official talk by Indonesia’s Minister of Tourism to resume the tourism activity with additional safety and health protocols. The mass-produced vaccine has been applied to the medical workers anywhere around the globe, and soon will be gradually given to the public. Hotels and tourism destinations began to open their door once again, albeit with strict safety protocols and reduced capacity. In general, people beginning to see COVID as a curable (but serious) disease and stop spreading bad stigma for those who affected by it. We are not entering the end zone of this tunnel, but the light is getting brighter.
I will not talk about ‘hope’ in this article, not because I don’t have one, but for me, the most important thing to face this kind of long-term disaster is by adapting. Be resourceful, forget your comfort zone, stay positive and be willing to accept the change. Those are the necessary mentality we need to continue walking into the unknown and beyond until eventually we overcome it entirely. Virtual hug for everyone from Bali, hope we can all have vacation together in this beautiful island without any worry. Cheers!