Haunting images of deserted streets once-bustling with activity in Bali have captured the ‘harsh reality’ of coronavirus and its impact on tourism.
Photographer Jon Gwyther, 50, has documented the effect of the pandemic in Kuta – a party-centric, coastal tourist destination – in a series of confronting images taken while walking in ‘search of a fading memory’.
His photographs show desolate streets with shop doors covered with graffiti and eateries shut.
Mr Gwyther, of Sanur, about 12km from Kuta, said he came across a small handful of people while walking down Bali’s iconic Poppies Lane 1 and 2.
A heartbreaking image of an abandoned white dog in an empty street was one of 33 shared by the internationally-acclaimed film director online.
The only inhabitant Mr Gwyther was able to capture along a once-bustling lane of Kuta was a white dog sitting on its lonesome (pictured)
Photographer Jon Gwyther has documented the pandemic’s effect in Kuta (pictured) – a party-centric, coastal tourist destination usually aflutter of activity – in a series of images taken walking in ‘search of a fading memory’
Mr Gwyther told Daily Mail Australia it was ‘really weird’ seeing the streets vacant as the area was known for being a tourist hotspot, with bars, eateries and live entertainment.
He compared the ‘world of emptiness’ and ‘oppressive energy’ he faced in the area on Saturday to the Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine in 1986.
‘The human devastation is painful as hell. It’s just sad, but the Balinese are doing it with such dignity,’ the 50-year-old said.
‘There is no screaming protests about wearing masks to get back to work. They’re sacrificing their individuality for the greater good, and everywhere you go there are temperature checks, hand sanitiser and people are being respectful to one another.
‘A lot of people are unemployed, especially in areas like Kuta, which heavily relies on tourists – and so many people are scared about not having enough food. There is no $600 per week payout like there is in Australia.’
His harrowing footage shows desolate streets and graffitied doors to shops and eateries shut (pictured)
In a Facebook post sharing his photography on Monday, Mr Gwyther recalled stumbling across a man sitting alone on one of Kuta’s streets who feared he would be killed of starvation before coronavirus.
‘My heart sank further when he shared a parting thought: “I don’t think COVID will kill me, but I may die of hunger”,’ he wrote.
Mr Gwyther said this feeling was common among many with ‘every hotel boarded up, beach fronts looking like they’ve been neglected for years and everything but a few restaurants shut’.
‘Everybody is worried – but we are all doing our part and everybody is helping one another,’ he said.
‘The good thing that has come out of this is people are really trying to look at different ways of establishing themselves and making money for when things start to open again.
Mr Gwyther detailed how his ‘heart grew heavy’ with every step he took into Kuta’s small lanes. Pictured: A man Mr Gwyther was able to photograph in Kuta’s small lanes
‘I have a friend who has revived the concept of weaving and traditional potting, who also wants to start running tours in the village she lives in, which’ll show traditional dance and organic farming.
‘It’s just an incentive and something they are working toward because right now people aren’t even dreaming of a future’.
In his post, Mr Gwyther detailed how his ‘heart grew heavy’ with every step he took through Kuta’s small lanes.
He was venturing from the beach after arriving too early to photograph the scenery as the ‘sun was still too high’.
‘Like many, I’ve had numerous experiences on and around these colorful streets; that allows the good, bad, and indifferent to flourish. But sadly, nothing could prepare me for what lay ahead,’ he wrote.
Businesses are closed in Kuta (pictured) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic engulfing Indonesia
Once-bustling streets are now deserted (pictured) as a result of the coronavirus pandemic
‘A world of cold emptiness surrounded me, an unexpected every day seemingly decimated by an unseen enemy, leaving a silent trail of collateral damage – the very people that made this tiny part of the world so colorful.
‘The only thing that seems to remain now are the echoes of the past, a distant memory few believe will be found again.’
The images are the result of the coronavirus pandemic engulfing Indonesia.
The country has recorded 127,083 cases and 5,765 deaths as of Wednesday, according to John Hopkins University.
Mr Gwyther’s pictures of the brutal reality of businesses closing and residents not having much to do throughout the coronavirus pandemic (pictured) has attracted more than 100 comments and been shared more than 1,000 times
Kuta (pictured) is a party-centric, coastal tourist destination usually aflutter of activity. Now businesses are closed and streets remain bare
Tourist hotspot Kuta (pictured) is now deserted due to the coronavirus pandemic
‘I did manage to watch the sunset, but as the beautiful sphere of hope drifted towards the horizon, I was acutely aware that this reality will rise again tomorrow,’ he wrote.
Mr Gwyther’s post of the brutal reality in Kuta has attracted more than 100 comments and been shared more than 1,000 times.
Some commenters, who reside at Kuta, say they ‘feel the island growing into a whole new world’.
Others have labelled his pictures as ‘heartbreaking’, ‘sad’ and the ‘global financial crisis on roids’.
A man Mr Gwyther was able to capture along the small streets of Kuta
Haunting images of deserted streets once-bustling with activity in Bali (pictured) capture the ‘hash reality’ of the coronavirus and its impact on the tourism industry
‘Very evocative images. One thing which makes this a little less sad is that a lot of the former workers and inhabitants have gone back to their villages for the duration. When the situation improves, most will probably return. Until then it’s somewhat bleak,’ one person wrote under Mr Gwyther’s post.
‘This is devastating. Totally devastating. I don’t think most people truly appreciate how bad things are in Bali right now,’ another said.
Another man and resident of Kuta Mr Gwyther was able to capture while ‘in search of a fading memory’
Businesses have been damaged in Kuta (pictured) as well as closed due to the coronavirus pandemic and lack of tourists
Businesses usually bustling with activity are now desolate and closed (pictured)
Another resident in Kuta Mr Gwyther was able to capture while walking the empty streets of Kuta (pictured)
A business, usually open from 10am until 8pm daily, advertising its closure due to the coronavirus pandemic (pictured)
A laundry service closed due to the coronavirus pandemic (pictured) which Mr Gwyther was able to photograph
Shopfronts closed in Kuta’s small streets (pictured)
Mr Gwyther did not see another soul, except for residents and businesses owners, while walking the usually busy streets of Kuta (pictured)