Upwards of 2,000 Australians chose to hunker down in Bali rather than return to Australia to weather the coronavirus storm.
Some, who call the island nation home, simply believe there is no point uprooting their lives because of the deadly respiratory infection, while others were hoping to avoid the two-week mandatory quarantine on arrival.
For Australian travel blogger Lauren Bullen, the decision wasn’t so simple.
The 26-year-old wanted to return home in accordance with government advice, but she wasn’t prepared to leave her partner Jack Morris, 29, and their dog Oreo behind.
Mr Morris, a British citizen, wouldn’t have been able to come to Australia given the government had introduced restrictions on non-residents to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The couple instead decided to remain at their palatial three-storey mansion in Bali to ride out the pandemic.
‘We have decided to stay in Bali during this time. It’s hard being apart from family right now but our home and pets are here, so we must stay with our little family,’ Ms Bullen shared on her popular Instagram page Gypsea Lust.
‘It’s a pretty surreal feeling knowing that even if we wanted to go to Australia, Jack not being a citizen means he wouldn’t be able to come anyway.
Mr Morris agreed. On his platform, Do You Travel, he told fans: ‘Lauren and I are trying to stay inside our villa as much as possible and comply with social distancing. It sucks but if everyone does their part, the quicker this will be over.’
Meanwhile another traveller, Daniel Wilkins, decided to stay put because the lifestyle in Indonesian self isolation would be better than back home.
As a chef, he knew he would have no work in Australia and would struggle to find a rental place as cheap as what he had in Bali.
‘No one else is here,’ he said, adding that the luxurious lifestyle was only putting him back $900 per month – cheaper than most rentals in Australian cities.
He said there are few people around in town, and he, his partner and daughter are self isolating in a beachfront villa estate entirely to themselves.
The family are getting daily deliveries and food and alcohol are both still cheap.
‘They’re advising everyone to stay inside unless buying food or working. Before we went into isolation, the supermarkets were full of stock,’ he said.
‘Now there are hotel and restaurant suppliers doing deliveries to homes even cheaper than what we’d pay at supermarkets,’ he said.
Mr Wilkins said he has no regrets about choosing to stay and self isolate in Bali, and his social media post attracted dozens of responses from Aussies saying they wished they’d decided to stay on in Indonesia rather than return home.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade urged travelling Australians to head home on March 18, as COVID-19 rapidly spread across the world.
According to the Smarttraveller website, Australians were told to return home as soon as possible regardless of ‘destination, age or health’.
‘As more countries close their borders or introduce travel restrictions, overseas travel is becoming more complex and difficult,’ the advice said.
‘Consider whether you have access to healthcare and support systems if you get sick while overseas. If you decide to return to Australia, do so as soon as possible. Commercial options may become less available.’
In Indonesia, there are now 6,575 known cases of coronavirus. Two people have died of the disease in Bali, however both were foreigners. 582 people have died in Indonesia in total.
For Australians hoping to receive western-standard healthcare in Bali should they contract the disease, they will be vying for one of only eight beds in the Bali International Medical Centre.
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Cover: JackMorris (@DoYouTravel)