Oh Bali it has been 3 days and I am still in bed feeling sorry for myself
So lets talk about Bali, one of the 17,500 plus islands of Indonesia. This place that it is almost un-Australian not to visit. Well I finally made it there and I barely made it back alive (Ok I am exaggerating but it has been three days and I am still hiding in my bed). Well done Bali you beat me in just five days.
Last night I was sharing some of my stories with a friend and I was saying it feels nothing like the real Indonesia. This is for various reasons. It is almost like there are more Australians than locals. Mind you over 1 million Australians visit Bali annually. My description would be an area where Australians get to feel like they are free and have no rules. Australia is a nation that “babies” it citizens. It has been mentioned to me multiple times by Europeans that everywhere is signs of commonsense activities that are prohibited. If you are Australian you would be surprised to learn that in some places there are signs to tell you when you are permitted to do something.
“Australians get to feel like they are free and have no rules.”
So I do not completely hate Bali because I would definitely return. I still would not call it Indonesia. I have been to Jakarta and Bandung many years ago and that is Indonesia. For one I will touch on the subject of religion. 83% of the Balinese population identify as Hindu compared to 95% of the Indonesian population who define themselves as Islam. I think this may be a big reason that the Balinese people are so open to westerners and customs that would generally be frowned upon in mostly Islam countries. I mean absolute zero offence to this just a personal observation.
The thing that stood out to me the most of Bali being Indonesian was Bahasa. I am fairly fluent in Bahasa so it was a wonderful opportunity to use my language and converse with the locals in their own tongue. As a result I received respect and would hardly be ripped off. Even without Bahasa you can still ensure you do not get ripped off. An example of this would be transport. For the taxis always try to get a bluebird. If you can’t ensure they use their meter. If they try to tell you the meter does not work tell them to pull over and you will get out. This happened to me and miraculously his meter started working. For those a bit more risky and who want to catch a scooter it will cost you more but it is also a quicker form of transport. Most the time I could haggle with them and get them down to 20k/2AUD. Anything more than this you are being ripped off.
“If they try to tell you the meter does not work tell them to pull over and you will get out. This happened to me and miraculously his meter started working.”
If you choose to go shopping at the markets be aware the items will not last. Fake Ray Bans will say Ray Bali and in general the quality is very average. I did not waste my time in purchasing anything from the markets. In fact I did very little shopping but between us three girls the items bought there ripped or broke whilst we were still there. I did make it to the surf shop factory outlets. It was still a bit pricey but this is where I decided to spend a little in order to take home gifts for my family.
Alcohol can cost the same if not more as in Australia depending on where you go. Some bars have happy hour deals and we would normally have a few Smirnoff’s which would be 3 for 80k/8AUD. However if you go to venues in Seminyak do not wear swimwear and males are required to have sleeves and no singlets or Bintang shirts. This is where it can get really pricey however the atmosphere was more mature than in Kuta. This would have to do with the fact that it was Schoolies week so the patronage would have been younger than other times of the year.
It was a drink, eat, swim, repeat trip so by day four I was starting to feel awful. I did not get the dreaded Bali belly instead a hangover I have never experienced before. I was questioning myself if it was the lack of sleep, did my drink get spiked somewhere or was I given “fake” alcohol at some stage.
I was not offered any illicit drugs at any stage however I would say that it is readily available. I have never been interested in doing any drugs and Bali would be the last place I would try it. My personal opinion is that you are a few brain cells short if you do since the repercussions in a country that supports the death penalty it is not worth it. Nevermind the fact that most the normal products they sell you are fake what makes you think you won’t get something that will kill you on the street. Whilst enjoying an afternoon drink and if seated close to the street you will have ladies trying to sell you $2 hand fans and guys selling $1 DVD’s. The DVD’s are just a cover since they will then go on to offer you Valium, Xanax or Suda.
“My personal opinion is that you are a few brain cells short if you do since the repercussions in a country that supports the death penalty it is not worth it.”
On my last day I went to a pharmacy that you would think is not dodgy at all but the lady there still sold me some prescription medication. I explained to her that I have tonsillitis in Bahasa and she sold me anti-biotics for this. At the time I just wanted to feel better and did not really think twice about what just happened. I noticed that when I bought a bottle of water it went through the till. So even the pharmacies will sell prescription medication to you without a script. It was only after I had nearly finished the packet I noticed the writing “dengan harus dokter resep”. This meant only with a script. I am happy to report it helped with my tonsillitis and instead I now have the man-flu.
The food there is amazing, local, international, absolutely everything. Towards the end with a tender stomach I stuck to what I knew and felt obligated to visit Jamie’s Italian and the Hard Rock Cafe. Absolutely blew me away with how good it was however the cost was equal to Australia. I did not want to risk getting Bali Belly so we only went to reputable looking restaurants and they were still well priced. It only got expensive once you started having a few alcoholic beverages.
We visited a few clubs: Engine Room, Bounty, Sky Garden (Kuta). They were all amazing and top any club I have ever been to in Australia. I would say this is because you get treated like an adult there when you are out with none of these ridiculous regulations Australian cities have. For someone who is majoring in policies and governance it would be interesting to do a statistical comparison with alcohol related violence and deaths in Bali compared with Australia. My personal belief is these restrictions and legislation does not reduce any violence or deaths. There were no lockout laws, drink limits, shot limits etc.
“For someone who is majoring in policies and governance it would be interesting to do a statistical comparison with alcohol related violence and deaths in Bali compared with Australia.”
We also went to La Favella and the Red Carpet in Seminyak. They were a little bit of paradise and you would find an older crowd there and more expensive drinks. You do need to watch out for thief’s on scooters, my friend had her bag snatched from someone on a scooter. Leave your phone at home if you can and never carry any identification, bank cards or too much money on you and the loss would not be so huge. Additionally kupu-kupu malam (prostitutes) are everywhere. You will see solo guys surrounded by a group of local females. It is not really a topic I want to discuss but whenever I witnessed this I would silently think I hope he is not cheating right now and he wears protection.
The days were mostly filled with wandering the streets, grabbing a bite to eat, having massages and maybe a little bit of shopping. The massages there are so affordable so you are silly to waste a day of not getting one. I regrettably did not take enough photos. We took plenty of selfies but I wish I had more photos now of the scenery. This is something I will be mindful of for the next location I travel to. This reminds me I need to find my camera and charger before my flight on Thursday since I forgot it for Bali!!!
In conclusion I loved Bali as much as I hated it and next time I return I am going to see all the scenery and do all the fun activities and tours. Lastly I would not recommend booking this online prior. Feel free to plan, but absolutely everywhere is vendors who you can bargain with. You can get your activities for much cheaper if you can bargain and especially if you know a little bit of Bahasa.
Sampai jumpa lagi Bali!!
“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” – Robert Louis Stevenson