8 Things Nobody Tells You About Bali

Rice terrace in Ubud. Photo: Patti

Rice terrace in Ubud. Photo: Patti

The most striking facts about Bali?

After living for 4 years in Southeast Asia, I have found out 8 things that most of the people ignore...

It is a fact that social media is only showing us ridiculous portrays of reality nowadays, but still, I always wondered why even close friends wouldn’t talk about their trips to Bali honestly.

So here we are. This is what most people won’t tell you about the island of the gods.

The good and the bad:

Atuh beach. Photo: Patti

Atuh beach. Photo: Patti

8 Things Nobody Tells You About Bali

The lost paradise discovered by hippies and surfers in the '70s brought many tourists over the last 5 decades, and with them, some real problems: traffic, trash, overcrowding.

But is it still worth going to Bali?

The answer is yes. But first of all, here are some basic things you should know before planning your travel:

1. Bali is composed of 4 islands

Bali includes an island of the same name and also three smaller adjacent islands: Nusa Penida, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan.

When we talk about Bali, most the people refer to the main island ignoring the other three islets.

Guess where the amazing picture above was taken?

If you don’t know, keep reading!

2. Bali’s beaches are not all paradisiac

The disappointment of many people is due to lack of information.

Many of Bali's beaches are made of dark sand, and the aesthetic result can be quite “different” from one’s expectations.

In addition, popular beaches such as Seminyaki, Kuta and Jimbaram, close to urban centres, receives tons of garbage regularly. The issue is very severe during some particular months of the year.

In fact, the Indonesian archipelago (composed of about 17 thousand islands) is the second largest producer of marine litter, just behind China.

According to AFP, by the end of 2017, the annual production of 1.29 million tonnes was estimated to have been dumped at sea.

Tanah Lot, Bali. Photo: Patti

Tanah Lot, Bali. Photo: Patti

Above, people watch the sunset from one of the numerous volcanic beaches.

Just a regular weekend in Bali!

Nothing against the dark sand, even less again the crowd, but it is very important to know that Bali is not only synonymous with white and fine sand, as many people imagine.

Of course, no one cares that much for that, considering the look of the magnificent Tanah Lot Temple (below).

We should care a lot more about floating garbage. But few influencers talk about it.

It’s kinda depressing.

Tanah Lot, Bali. Photo: Patti

Tanah Lot, Bali. Photo: Patti

3. The best beaches are in Nusa Penida

As said in topic number 1, many of the essentials of Bali are NOT located in Bali’s main island.

Klingking beach (the T-Rex below), Pasih Uug (broken beach) and many other hidden gems are located in Nusa Penida.

Atuh beach (the first image of this post) and many other gorgeous beaches can also be admired in Penida, a 45-min ferry ride from Sanur (Bali, main island).

Klingking beach, Nusa Penida. Photo: Patti

Klingking beach, Nusa Penida. Photo: Patti

4. The satay you eat may have been prepared with dog meat

Satay, one of Indonesia's tastiest tidbits, is the name of the beef (or chicken) skewers that are usually served with a thick peanut sauce.

The delicacy had its reputation almost ruined in 2017 when rumours about the use of canine meat were confirmed by Animal's Australia and released by the Australian newspaper ABC.

Bali residents were killing dogs to sell like chicken to tourists..!

Although dog meat sales are not illegal in Bali (locals use the RW sign to identify dog meat), many tourists actually had no idea what they were eating.

Photo by Animal's Australia. Click  here  to contribute with the organization and help to put an end to this shameful business.

Photo by Animal's Australia. Click here to contribute with the organization and help to put an end to this shameful business.

Solution: If you don’t know the meat’s origin, go vegan and be happy!

5. Bali’s traffic is pure nightmare

It looks surprising for people who never been there, but with very narrow roads and poor road signs, Bali’s traffic can be maddening.

Every time we've been there… we end up taking way longer than expected to get anywhere.

If it doesn’t sound like a big deal, try to book a ferry and get to the port at the scheduled time. We've already lost a boat, and believe us - it's always a mess to fix that.

Renting a scooter will always be the number 1 recommendation, but even, always calculate a good margin in your commutes!

Gas station, Bali. Photo: Patti

Gas station, Bali. Photo: Patti

Gas stations (like the one above) are quite rare off the major touristy roads.

Yeah, this is a gas station, nice to meet you 😀!

And please, never forget to fill the tank as much as you can.

6. Kecak and Legong are not to be missed

Kecak (the monkey dance) and Legong Keraton (the refined Balinese dance) are local traditions that don’t even need presentation.

Although considered by many as touristy programmes (and they actually are), it is important to keep in mind that the tourism account for 80% of Bali's economy, so any activity targeted at travellers referred to as "non-touristic" is a huge illusion.

Legong dancers begin to train professionally from the age of 5 but and often have a prestigious place in society.

Balinese dance, Ubud, Bali. Photo: Patti

Balinese dance, Ubud, Bali. Photo: Patti

According to The Jakarta Post, Legong was recognized by UNESCO in 2015 as the country's cultural heritage.

The Ubud Palace is the most recommended place to watch the Legong, but other performances are also available.

Concerning Kecak, I will let you find more in this magnificent video, extracted from the movie Baraka (worth watching, by the way):

For an epic Kecak presentation, you can head to the Uluwatu Temple (perched on the cliffs above the sea).

By the way, if you want to save time and avoid the hassle, buy your tickets in advance here.

You can watch the sunset over the Indian Ocean at Uluwatu Temple, attend the traditional dance performance and head for a seafood dinner at Jimbaran Bay.

Everything (except the food) is included in the ticket below:

By the way if you book with us, you don’t pay any extra!

7. The world’s most expensive coffee is pure crap

For those who never heard of this, be aware that kopi luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world is basically extracted from the faeces of the civet.

The grains are partially digested by the animal and collected from excrements. Digestive enzymes alter proteins’ structure in the beans, which removes the coffee’ acidity to make the cup softer.

A cup of kopi luwak can sell for a ridiculous $ 80 in the United States.

Caged civet. Photo: Patti

Caged civet. Photo: Patti

While faeces collected from the ground don’t cause harm to the animal (the civet is free to choose what he wants to eat), captive animals end up suffering from malnutrition because they are forced to feed on coffee beans only.

Not to mention the tiny cages and the stress.

If you want to try the Kopi Luwak, make sure that the coffee you are buying comes from a coffee shop where the civets live free.

Almost impossible mission according to a National Geographic report.

Civet excrement. Photo: Patti

Civet excrement. Photo: Patti

8. Drug consumption is severely punished by law

Without going into too much detail, anyone who has been to Bali knows that it is very easy to find people offering weed or shrooms around the corners.

So if you are planning to smoke weed in Bali, stop searching the internet right now. Head to Kuta and Seminyak and people will offer you anything you want. Buy at your own risk!

In the neighbouring islands (Gilli, Lombok) the open sale of magic shake may even give you a false impression that the laws have changed.

Here are some pearls of wisdom: don’t fall for it.

Life imprisonment and the death penalty for traffickers are still the law in Indonesia, and although inconsistent, they do apply to tourists.

Photo by Begadank Backpackers. If you are going to Gili, book  here

Photo by Begadank Backpackers. If you are going to Gili, book here

Finally, there are many other interesting facts about Bali that usually slips under the first-timers visitor radars.

One I find very intriguing is about the presence of several abandoned airplanes on the island. If you are curious about it, there is a very interesting read about abandoned airplanes in Bali at Universal Traveller website.

I hope you enjoyed this post!

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