Travel Influencers who are self-isolating from coronavirus in their three-storey Balinese mansion have been criticised for ‘bragging’ about their luxury surroundings, with millions of people in their home countries jobless and locals in Bali being barely able to eat.
Lauren Bullen, 26, had wanted to fly home in accord with government instructions for Australians to return during the pandemic but said she was not prepared to leave her partner Jack Morris, 29, and their dog Oreo behind.
In their first photo since deciding to bunker down earlier this week Jack can be seen playing Mario Kart on an incredible cinema-style screen in a palatial living area that boasts views of their lap pool outside.
‘What our self isolation looks like here in Bali. Netflix and Mario Kart is pretty much my life right now! What are you guys doing to keep entertained at home? Hope everyone is staying safe,’ he captioned the photo.
It wasn’t long before some of the travelling photographer’s fanbase lashed out by telling him ‘things could be worse mate’.
One person wrote ‘sick brag’ underneath the photo, while another said: ‘Wow there are different levels of quarantine in the world’.
In Australia alone more than one million people have been left jobless, with many more suffering psychologically with the nature of self-isolation.
While their enviable lifestyle in a Balinese villa seems like one of the best places to see out the COVID-19 outbreak, Lauren said in such times it would have been better to return home.
‘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,’ Lauren 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.
‘For the moment Indonesia (Bali in particular) isn’t in lockdown, the island is very quiet though. A lot of people are choosing to self isolate here, to prevent any major outbreak from happening (if it hasn’t already).’
Jack echoed her sentiments in a separate post on his channel Do You Travel.
‘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,’ he wrote.
Last week the Australian government put a stop to all international visitors, with only citizens and permanent residents allowed to enter the country.
Lauren and Jack’s followers have intently followed the construction of their three-bedroom, five-bathroom home on land they bought in Bali in 2018.
After renting villas for two years the couple took the plunge and bought a plot of land themselves, wanting to create a ‘photogenic’ home that would be a backdrop for their Instagram pictures.
It features an electric gate entrance for security and a heavy timber door to make the entrance of the house ‘look really grand’, Jack comments in a YouTube video they shared.
Floor-to-ceiling glass walls on the two-storey home show off the living space – which incorporates an exclusively designed sunken lounge ‘which is too big for two people’, concrete benchtops in the kitchen and a 10-person dining table for entertaining.
Universal plugs are installed ‘everywhere’ so the pair can charge their array of camera equipment, laptops and phones wherever they are sitting, including directly on the couch.
Beyond the kitchen – which uses water and taps imported from Australia because ‘Indonesia doesn’t have any good tapware’ – lies Lauren’s pink ‘powder room’ for ‘epic mirror selfies’.
The master bedroom has a custom-made mirror surrounded by a ‘floating’ bed and bedside table.
‘There is an air conditioner in the wardrobe to stop Lauren from getting too sweaty when she tries on clothes,’ Jack said of their main suite.
They keep the remainder of their ‘winter’ clothing in a separate walk-in wardrobe, showing just how many materials they own from brands which work with the couple.
In the garden there is a cabana, outdoor shower and pool decked in white marble, to make it look more ‘Mediterranean’ over Balinese.
‘The contractor said the marble was a waste of money but I think it makes the area look super luxe,’ Lauren said.
Two bedrooms on the second floor – alongside an office – are for guests but the majority of Lauren and Jack’s loved ones live in Australia and England.
‘It took about a year to build the house and it was a lot of work. We wanted it to be photogenic so that we could shoot content there,’ Jack previously told The Cut.
‘I was very specific about making sure our house photographed well,’ Lauren added.
‘If I’m doing an Instagram Story job in the bathroom, talking about teeth whitening or something, I want the background to look good.’
‘We’re keeping the cost of the house private because eventually we want to rent it out. But it’s comparable to the prices of the nicer houses in Canggu,’ Jack said.
Prime real estate in Canggu, Bali, can range between AUD$350,000 and AUD$1million.
The 29-year-old confirmed to FEMAIL that the entire property was purchased doing sponsorship deals and creating branded content on Instagram.
The lovebirds previously said they won’t do a sponsored post for less than $3,000 USD ($3,948 AUD).
The most Jack has been paid for one post is $9,000 USD ($11,846 AUD) while the most Lauren has ever got from one snap is $7,500 USD ($9,872 AUD).
‘I did a job for a phone company where I flew out for three days; there were two days filming and then I had to do five photos on Instagram, and that was $35,000,’ he said.
‘We’ve even turned up to jobs before that which we’ve charged thousands for, and we’ve got there and they’ve been like, “your rates are so low”.’
Jack credited Lauren for designing much of the home’s interior, which features the signature bohemian style she and her sister Ellie Bullen have become known for on social media.
He quit his job as a carpet cleaner seven years ago after deciding he needed some adventure in his life.
‘It was literally waking up one morning and I wanted to try something different. I flew out on my own with no plan and just wanted to see what came at me,’ he said at the time.
After two years of constant travel Jack decided to purchase a camera and document his travels under the brand name ‘Do You Travel’.
‘I basically created it to share my experiences, it wasn’t about making lots of money. I didn’t expect to make money or for it to blow up. But that created my new career,’ he said.
The couple sell Lightroom presets to fans and fellow photographers to edit their photos with.
Global brands such as Royal Caribbean Cruises, Disney, Air NZ, AirBnB, Tiffany & Co have all approached the duo with work.
But Jack insists the pair only do sponsored posts if they support the brand, company or tourism board.
‘I was contacted by brands way before I started accepting offers. I didn’t care about making money, it was always just a project I did for fun. Eventually as I grew bigger some of the offers were too good to turn down,’ he said.
‘I only promote or post about the things I truly like or believe in, which is very important to me and why my posts resonate with so many.’
Jack did admit that the job can get overwhelming at times and that they do sometimes travel to places ‘for the sole purpose of a “gram worthy” shot’.
But you won’t find either of them complaining about the life Instagram has been able to afford them.
‘It is almost a dream. Being able to do what I want every day is nice,’ he said.
‘It is ideal, I never really expected to find someone I could share this with, so it worked out really well.’
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