A Bridge Too Far Gone

I have a thing about bridges: I’m in awe of them when they are well-designed, inventive and delightful examples of architecture, with a flair or presence that leaves an impression long after I’ve driven or walked over. But not when they are remnants of shoddy construction gone awry, crumbling under the weight of rain, overuse and lack of maintenance. Just waiting to collapse.

The iconic and once-picturesque Campuhan suspension bridge, built by the Dutch in the early 20th century, lies in a valley at the confluence of the Ayung and Wos rivers, amidst an old-growth jungle at the western edge of Ubud. This footbridge, once used by vehicles as well, sits alongside a newer bridge for vehicular traffic. The drop down from both bridges is probably close to 30 meters – considerably higher than the 10 meters I tumbled down in Battambang. A ten meter fall is somehow survivable (just barely); I’ll bet that thirty meters is not.

I’m not an alarmist by nature, but when you see an accident just waiting to happen…

My attempts at being proactive led nowhere, even though I tried to find out who was responsible for repairing that historical bridge. So, I finally decided to take action myself. I envisioned and schemed, asked Balinese and longtime ex-pat friends what risks (if any) I might face. Nothing serious, I was told; perhaps nothing at all. This much I know: I have a member of the royal family onside, so if I should end up in jail…

I spent the past week printing up and laminating signs that read: Danger, Bridge Unsafe to Cross, Hati Hati (careful) and Tolong Perbaiki Jembatan Ini (please repair this bridge). I bought a large bag of plastic/raffia rope. And this morning, with my activist friend R along, we hung the signs all across the bridge. Then I took photographs and texted some of my friends with the news, asking them to drive by.

The wheels are in motion. Journalist friends have already suggested I visit a government office responsible for roads and bridges, and bring along my photos. Here’s hoping that somebody will pay attention…


  1. That’s fantastic!! In addition to saving lives and prompting the authorities to action, I hope a photo of your activism will hang in an art gallery.

    1. Thanks for that Linda.. didn’t know you’ve been checking out my blog, but welcome and good to hear from you!
      Don’t know about hanging my photos will hang anywhere – except maybe my home (!) but if you have any ideas… 🙂 Working on Plan B…

  2. Good initiative on your part! This historic bridge needs saving and it’s wonderful that you are taking the lead.

    1. Thanks Malou! It’s a tall order and the signs have already been taken down (sheesh, welcome to bali), but I’m trying to find a strategy that will work – and won’t alienate photographers and the government.

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