8 Things Nobody Tells You About Bali
Everything has been said about Bali. Or almost everything.
The truth is that most of people don’t tell you the most basic facts about the “island of gods”!
The lost paradise discovered by hippies and surfers in the 70's 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 things you should know:
8 Things Nobody Tells You About Bali
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 abou Bali, most of 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. NOT ALL BEACHES ARE PARADISE-LIKE
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 centers, 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 an annual production of 1.29 million tonnes was estimated to have been dumped at sea.
Above, people watch the sunset from one of the numerous volcanic beaches. Just a regular weekend in Bali.
Nothing against the dark sand, but it is VERY important to know that Bali is not “only” synonymous with white and fine sand and “paradise” as many people imagine.
Of course, no one cares that MUCH for that, considering the look of the magnificent Tanah Lot Temple (below).
3. THE MOST WILD BEACHES ARE LOCATED 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).
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 rumors 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 of tourists actually had no idea what they were eating.
Solution: If you don’t know the meat’s origin, go vegan and be happy!
5. BALI’S TRAFFIC IS MEGA CAOTIC
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 wayyy longer than expected to get anywhere.
If it doesn’t sound like a 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!
And please, never forget to fill the tank as much as you can!
Gas stations (like the one above) are quite rare off the major touristy roads.
Yeah, this is a gas station, nice to meet you 😀!
6. KECAK AND BALINESE DANCE (LEGONG) ARE NOT TO BE MISSED
Kecak (monkey dance) and Legong Keraton (the refined Balinese dance) are local traditions that don’t even need presentation.
Although considered by many as touristy programas (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 travelers 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.
According to The Jakarta Post, Legong was recognized by UNESCO in 2015 as the country's cultural heritage.
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 presentation, you can check the Kecak at Uluwatu Temple.
The Ubud Palace is the most recommended place to watch the Legong, but other performances are also available.
Check locations and times in this link.
7. AVOID THE KOPI LUWAK, THE WORLD'S MOST EXPENSIVE COFFEE
For those who never heard of this, be aware that kopi luwak, is basically extracted from the feces 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 sells for ridiculous $ 80 in the United States.
While feces 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. Mission almost IMPOSSIBLE according to a National Geographic report.
8. DRUG CONSUMPTION AND TRAFFICKING ARE STILL PUNISHED SEVERELY
Without going into too much detail, anyone who has been there knows that it is VERY easy to find people offering weed or shrooms around the corners.
In the neighboring islands (Gilli, Lombok area) the open sale of magic shake may end up giving a false impression that the laws have changed.
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.
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For another tips in Indonesia, check it out this great article: The Indonesia Beyond Bali!
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