Our time in Bali has almost come to an end and we have loved every minute of it! (Missed our kids a little, though). This country is amazing; it is so beautiful and so warm. Every day has been about 25-30C and overcast with a few sunny days here and there, it is there rainy season after all. We’ve got to enjoy three areas of Bali so far and we’ve quickly learned to adapt to the ways of the island. Here’s what we’ve learned about Bali in our time here:
Bali is an island in Indonesia
This one seems obvious but so many people think that Bali is its own country, it’s not. It is one of the islands in Indonesia of which there are many.
Never go out without a rain jacket
The weather here is so crazy that it can change any second. One minute you can be driving down the road in blue skies and all of a sudden you’re stuck in torrential downpour and that is exactly what happened to us. One afternoon we were driving through the north of Bali to check out some temples and it was a normal overcast day until we started gaining elevation, once we were done climbing all of a sudden the skies opened up and unleashed on us. Since my brother had been here a while already, he was aware of the weather here and made sure we grabbed our jackets that morning. We quickly pulled over and threw our jackets on which saved us from being drenched the rest of the day. Luckily, the rain never lasts long here and even when it does rain it is still incredibly warm out. That being said, bring a jacket because nobody enjoys spending the day in wet clothing.
The country is very religious
Hinduism is the dominant religion here and it has taken over the entire island. You can’t drive down a street here and not see some sort of hindu temple, decor or shrine. It is literally everywhere. Temples line the streets for blocks in some areas. Many of the old temples that you will visit as tourists don’t seem to be used as places of worship anymore and now are just for the tourists to look at and enjoy and the local temples you see when driving through town are where the locals go to worship.
At our first AirBnB we stayed at, each morning outside our front gate the host had incense burning and canang sari (pictured below) as an offering to thank the Sang Hyang Widhi Wasa in praise and prayer. We’ve never seen a country so committed to their beliefs than we have here.
At any time of day you can find men and women dressed in their traditional hindu outfits everywhere and the “in use” temples full of people worshipping.
The Balinese commitment to hinduism was very surprising to us as we had no idea hinduism was this dominant and that the people were this committed.
There is always something burning
The Balinese people are pyromaniacs. Kidding, of course, but everywhere you go you smell something burning whether it’s garbage, wood, incense or cigarettes. Driving through a good amount of Bali in the Ubud area this was our reality. You are constantly inhaling smoke which is why a lot of people here wear masks, both locals and tourists.
It just seems to be a way of life over here. We’re not even sure if everyone who smokes here actually smokes or if they’re just doing it to fit in. We’re not kidding when we say we don’t fit in here because we don’t smoke. The locals will sit out front of their shops, smoke and chat all day long.
There are no restrictions on where you can and can’t smoke so it happens everywhere all day long. Restaurants, streets, hotels, beaches, no where is off limits for smoking. For people who don’t smoke like us, you’re stuck with it and you gotta just suck it up. Tourists who smoke love it here because a pack of smokes costs anywhere from $2-4CAD depending on what brand you smoke so people go through multiple packs per day here. Even as we sit here writing this post there is a couple smoking beside us at the pool. At this point, we’re over it, it can stop now, but like we said, we gotta just suck it up because it’s not going away.
You pay for every little thing
You wanna park there? Pay up. You wanna see that waterfall? Pay up. You wanna see that temple? Pay up. You wanna go pee? Pay up. You wanna jump off that cliff into the ocean? Pay each time you jump. You wanna use that beach? Pay up. You wanna swim in the pool? Pay up.
Everyone always talks about how cheap things are here and it’s true, it’s very cheap, most of those things listed above are never more than $5 CAD, but you pay for every little thing all day long and it can add up if you’re travelling on a strict budget.
There are no rules on the road
We’re not sure why they even have lines painted on the roads here because it seems to mean absolutely nothing. On a two lane road the other day cars were driving three abreast. On our way to our current hotel there was a major roundabout with cars 4 wide on a two lane road with motorbikes and scooters filling in the gaps. Even the centre line has no value here and you constantly find yourself travelling into oncoming traffic. It’s just a free for all on the roads here. Blinkers mean nothing, they’re optional, speed limits are non existent, and helmets on scooters are only required for tourists.
Scooters dominate the road
Scooters are the dominant vehicle in this country. It is for an obvious reason though, it’s cheaper. To fill one of the tanks takes only three litres which costs about $3-5CAD. The bike itself will cost about $2,000CAD. Where cars would cost many times that amount it is both easier and cheaper for locals to use them.
They drive wherever they want, though. Whenever a car is stopped at a light, the scooters will fill any gap at the stop line that they can. They will pass cars on either side, even if that means going into oncoming traffic. It is comical, and sometimes scary, to see but we haven’t seen one accident here (even though it seems like one could happen at any second because of how close they get to each other and the cars).
The people are super friendly
The people here are so friendly to the tourists that it really make you feel comfortable. We haven’t once found ourselves scared or worried about our safety. Even walking alone at night feels comfortable.
One time, a friend of Adam’s had his scooter break down and one of the locals came by and fixed it for him and wouldn’t take any money as a thank you. Another friend had his scooter run out of gas and a local pulled over, found out what the problem was, took him to the gas station, paid for his gas, drove him back to his scooter, and filled it up and this guy also wouldn’t take any money as payment or a thank you. They’re genuinely friendly people to talk to and always willing to help.
The price is negotiable
The locals are friendly, but they also know that you’re coming to their country with more money than they have so of course they’re going to try and make you pay. We’ve been very successful in not having to pay the original offered price. Of course when you’re in a restaurant you can’t negotiate the menu price but when you’re buying anything from a vendor or something off the street, you can bargain. We’ve bargained for petrol (gas), scooters, and boat rides amongst other things.
One thing to remember when you’re bargaining is what the local currency converts to in your currency. For us, $1CAD is about equal to 10.000 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah). In reality it’s about $1CAD to 10.800 IDR but for simplicity sake we just use 10.000 IDR. so when you’re bargaining on scooters and you want to pay 60.000 IDR instead of 70.000 IDR remember you’re only bargaining over $1.
We are sad that our time here is coming to an end but are super grateful we had this opportunity and have made the most of it. We love the people, the beaches, the scenery and the vacation that Bali has offered us and we can’t wait to share the whole trip with you in the coming days as well as our amazing First Class flights here. Stay tuned for many more posts about this trip.
Never stop adventuring!