Instagram Influencers Faked This Popular Bali View, And People Are Upset They Got ‘Catfished’

Most people know that a lot of what they see on social media isn’t real. People tend to curate their feeds to display only the best moments from their lives, so they’re bound to fudge a thing or two. And sometimes they’ll take it another step further by faking an entire photo completely. That’s exactly what’s happening in Bali, where an Instagram hotspot turned out to be totally fake.

Thousands of people have posted photos at the “Gates of Heaven” in Bali.

Instagrammers use the hashtag #GatesofHeaven to share photos of themselves posing in front of the Pura Lempuyang Luhur temple in Bali, Indonesia.

It makes for a dreamy photo: The remains of the temple sit at the top of a cliff, providing an airy view of a mountain. The gates are reflected in what looks like a pool of crystal clear water right in front of them.

But it turns out that the reflecting pool at the Gates of Heaven doesn’t exist at all.

Polina Marinova, an editor at Fortune Magazine, recently visited Bali and has looking forward to seeing the Gates of Heaven in person after seeing countless photos of them on Instagram.

Marinova told INSIDER, “It looked absolutely breathtaking. But of course, it being Instagram, no one had included in the caption that it wasn’t real, so I just assumed there was water there.”

She was disappointed to discover that the reflections in everyone’s Instagram photos are actually created using a camera trick. For $1 or $2, people can have a photographer take a picture of them while holding a piece of glass in front of the camera. It creates the illusion of a reflection and makes for an extremely Instagrammable photo op.

Marinova took to Twitter to share her disheartening discovery:

She wrote, “Proof that Instagram influencers have ruined everything.My hopes and dreams were shattered when I found out the ‘water’ at the Gates of Heaven is actually just a piece of glass under an iPhone.”

Marinova told INSIDER:

“There is a long winding line on the side, and hundreds of people are watching you pose at the Gates of Heaven. Most, if not all, the people in the line were tourists, and there were definitely people who had prepared for this moment.”

“Some did yoga poses, others jumped in the air, and on several occasions, people did a redo because they didn’t like how their pictures came out.”

“I mean, it was over the top.”

Instagrammers will famously go to great lengths to get a pretty picture. In Siberia, there’s a bright blue lake that makes for a perfect photo op, but it turns out the vibrant color of the lake is due to toxic waste. I guess sometimes a great Instagram is worth a little bodily harm, at least for some people.


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Often times, the reality of a location can be just as beautiful as the Instagram ideal. Instagrammer @anneharding_travel posted a photo of herself at the simple, untouched Gates of Heaven and wrote about how disappointed she was to discover there was no water there.

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Bali’s gates of heaven was a huge Instagram vs reality check for me ? You might have seen in my stories the 2 hour long queue to take a photo (yes, we waited ?) ??‍♀️ – a 2 hour wait for 30 seconds of fame: the staff call you up, take your camera and shout 1…2…3…jump’ as you manically switch between 3 poses and a jump (and if you’re anything like me you end up forgetting the second 2 poses due to the stress of having to move in between so quickly ?). Have you ever seen the photos with the gates reflected in a beautiful pool of water on the ground? I felt so disappointed when we arrived and there was no lake or pool – I thought it must be water on the ground that creates these reflections … that is until I looked at my phone after and saw the reflections in the photos taken ? the women taking the photos use a mirror to create the reflection! It makes for a beautiful photo, but nothing at all like the reality! This place is really stunning, but it seems like it’s definitely become more about the photo opportunity than the temple – Swipe right to see the second version of the photo ? Which do you prefer, 1 or 2? . . . . . . . #instagramvsreality #realitycheck #bali #puralempuyang #gatesofheaven #amed #northbali #balitemple #temple?? #temples #beauty #architecturedaily #baliindonesia #balilivin #bali? #baliguide #balivibes #wonderfulindonesia #travelog #travelgirl #travelblogger #budgettraveller #backpacking #travelholic #dametraveller #travelcouples #girlswhotravel #sheisnotlost #roamtheplanet #wanderwoman

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@anneharding_travel wrote:

It makes for a beautiful photo, but nothing at all like the reality! This place is really stunning, but it seems like it’s definitely become more about the photo opportunity than the temple.

A lot of people think that the real culture of the Indonesian temple is lost when people just focus on the opportunity for a photo.

“That’s really disappointing because the Lempuyang Temple is one of Bali’s oldest and most highly regarded temples,” Marinova said to INSIDER. “So to see so many people waiting hours to take their photo rather than walking around the grounds of the temple says a lot about what we value in 2019.”