Earlier this week @polina_marinova on Twitter posted this tweet about the famed Gates Of Heaven. Although tweeted earlier this month, news outlets didn’t get a hold of the tweet until this week. Yes, all those photos you’ve seen, liked and commented on were all an illusion made with a piece of glass. But is it lying?
For those who have no idea what I’m talking about, let me give you some background. The Gates of Heaven resides on the grounds of Lempuyang Temple located in Karangasem, Bali. The site has served as a hot spot for tourists for decades because of it’s reflective “water” surface. From families on vacation to influencers adding to their photo album, thousands (at this point, maybe even millions) have flocked here for their chance to take this picture.
So, What’s the Big Deal?
Tourists who arrive at the site expect a huge pool of water to be in front of the “gates” but instead are greeted with a lawn of grass. I can only imagine the confusion and disappointment they feel when they realize the site isn’t what they saw on Instagram.
A big part of why this is a problem is people feel betrayed and lied to by influencers. People expect to have the same experience influencers do when they travel. When they don’t, influencers take a hit. Remember when everyone found out the rock influencers hung off of was only two feet off the ground and if fact, not a cliff? The same thing is happening now that happened in that situation.
Another issue that keeps popping up with travel influencers is people feel they are taking advantage of the culture. They feel influencers are using locals to boost themselves on social media and as a result are inauthentic.
One user made a valid point against this and said: “It’s the locals who came up with that idea.” In different places all over the world, locals take advantage of increased tourism. Take Italy for example. Around every corner, there is a street vendor trying to sell a blown-up picture of the Duomo. In Paris, they try to sell you Eiffel Tower keychains or Nutella crepes. So, why can’t the Gates of Heaven be Bali’s Duomo or Eiffel Tower?
What Is the Response?
The comments under Marinova’s tweet are split down the middle. One user said they feel “catfished” while others made light of the situation and said they would use this trick next time they take a photo. Surprisingly, there are more positive than negative reactions surrounding the whole situation. People are desensitized to this now and aren’t as shocked as they were, say 5 years ago.
Despite all the controversy, past tourists are defending influencers and the location. Saying statements like “It’s just as beautiful without the ‘water’.” And honestly, we have to agree.
Check out what some of our travel influencers did while in Bali.