The year Bali tourism stopped
Wayan Wira Candra’s parents never intended for him to join the family business. They had bigger dreams for their son than toiling waist-deep in the Ceningan Strait, working a backbreaking job for meagre wages as they did.
They started seaweed farming in the mid 80s but like many Indonesian families, encouraged their son to set his sights over the Badung Strait to Bali as a pathway to a better future.
Wayan in the Ceningan Strait
Wayan Wira Candra never expected to find himself dependent on seaweed farming. Foreign Correspondent: Matt Davis
In 2005, Wayan enrolled in a three-year course at a Bali tourism school, eventually snagging a dream job in one of the main island’s big hotels.
“Since a long time ago, many young people were enthusiastic about working in tourism,” says Wayan, now a 35-year-old father of three.
“Before the pandemic they thought it was very promising. It was very rare for people to be interested in seaweed farming.”
Back then, Ceningan, Lembongan and the larger neighbouring island of Penida were together one of Bali’s best kept tourism secrets, a quiet oasis away from the crammed laneways of Kuta and Seminyak.