12.02.2009 33 °C
They are all here in S.E.Asia: Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King, Starbucks, A&W, and of course, the granddaddy – McDonald’s. All the Western fat cats are here, praying on the locals’ desire for a fun-filled sophisticated life – just like ours. Have we learned nothing from history? Are we not still apologizing to the natives of North America and Australia for ruining their health and their teeth with sugar, starch and alcohol?
Until recently, the residents of this world trod lightly - subsisting largely on rice and bananas – but now, every warung, (meagre neighbourhood store), is laden with chocolate, crisps and coca-cola – the new necessities of life. Highly processed trans-fats and sugars are heavily tipping the scales in this carbohydrate addicted world. Motor scooters are groaning under the weight of a rapidly burgeoning populace while specially adapted motorcycles peddle the deadly poisons.
Rice has sustained the Indonesians and fellow Asians for millennia, and every sculpted hillside could be exhibited at the Tate Modern or the Guggenheim; every paddy is a painter’s palette of verdant green. Yet, today, the real money in tourists' meccas such as Bali is in off-loading these ancient wetlands to the western, and in some cases, Indonesian, developers at grossy inflated prices. But at what cost? Virtually all land is now well beyond the pockets of the natives whose ancestors toiled to carve these productive pastures. Today, monstrous developments are swallowing the landscape and turning the birthrights of generations into motorbikes. televisions and mountains of junk food - instant gratification in exchange for a stable homestead and a lifetime's income. How long before the rice paddies will be nothing more than carefully manicured pastures to enhance the esthetics of the westerners' villas?
This truly is fast becoming a McWorld, where youngsters are constantly bombarded with ads for junk food and every child's dream is to have a cellphone and a motorbike. Judging by the number of fast food outlets - including 24hr. McDonald's with home delivery service, and by the number of obese young teenagers on motorbikes, the battle is already lost.
Junk on the Go is the new motto - see what this guy has to offer!
Now we are back in the sunshine of Thailand; back amidst the Buddhists. We shall miss the contadictions of Indonesia, and we sincerely hope someone will preserve a few rice paddies for our next visit.