Bali-ventures: 8 Things I Learned About Travelling to Bali

Days since my last post:3

Not all Balinese people are Muslims
Surprisingly one of the biggest religion in Bali is Hindu, with about 80% of their residents making up this religious group. My mistake on this part I suppose as I assumed most of them were Muslims just because they spoke Malay. What gave me this realization was that I saw how the couple who ran the little food stall outside our homestay praying with incense and flowers, so I started getting curious. Nearly 90% of the homes and shops we'd pass by would have flower offerings outside their doors too, and so I asked our driver about it. Best lesson ever.

Case in point: The Tirta Empul temple.

Don't buy a sim card at the airport
If you're a millennial as myself, the first thing you'd be looking for when you touch down is probably a sim card so you can get some data and be reconnected to what feels like the world. Well, hold on a bit and try not to buy your sim card from the aiport. Chances are you will get ripped off by several hundred thousands of rupiah, and perhaps even feel like a fool. You'll first be approached when you see a booth on the left of the arrival hall that says TELKOMSEL, but you can actually get them from any shops OUTSIDE the airport area or if you really can't wait then visit one of the shops on the right that sells them for about 125,000 rupiah with data. Sim cards range between 50,000 rupiah to a little more when you're away from the airport area.

Get yourself a personal driver
Because UBER was apparently available in Bali, we initially thought of using their services to move around instead of renting any drivers for a full day or half day tour. Biggest mistakes of our lives as we couldn't find a driver from our first venue to the second! UBER is also pretty new in Bali and some most taxi touts have put up signs to reject them from certain areas, making the UBER drivers a little wary to entering these places...which then makes it even harder to hail an UBER. So the best thing to do is to hire a personal driver. Seriously! They cost between 300,000 rupiah for a half day drive to 700,000 rupiah for a full day drive, inclusive of petrol and parking. Try to negotiate, it can be fun...or intimidating.

Us and Wayan Remy.

Our driver is nice really nice guy called Wayan Remy and he hails from an area called Tampaksiring in Gianyar that's really near the Gunung Kawi temple. He speaks decent English, gives you a run down of history to some of the touristy places, he's really honest in what he does ie. He doesn't take you to those touristy places where he can get commissions and tell you it's the best place, and he's also brutally honest when it comes to cussing at traffic. You can contact him at +6287862213151 and just tell him Elie introduced you. I get nothing from this by the way, but I just thought he's the nicest dude we've met throughout the journey and sometimes good things like these are worth sharing!

Haggle, haggle 
Master the art of haggling if you want to go shopping, ALWAYS. They will start at a ridiculously high price and most times you can just get something at about half or 70% of the original price. My other half was the master of haggling and I got 3 sarongs for my parents at a real steal. He too got several souvenirs home for his family, in addition to a handmade wooden chess set for just about 150,000 rupiah. They were originally 400,000 rupiah or something like that.

Not safe for kids, but this is a wood carved piece on sale!

Ignore pushy peddlers
When you visit tourist sites you will definitely be approached by dodgy peddlers that range from middle-aged aunties or children who look far too young to be out there alone. They will try to sell the weirdest of things like clothes, sunglasses or hats to trinkets and bracelets but the best thing to do is to ignore them. Don't even touch their things or you'll be forced to buy them. Just smile and say no thanks.

Ignore taxi touts
This one is a little scarier to do, but try your best to ignore the taxi touts while you're there. They can be literally ANYWHERE from the airport to outside of restaurants and even in front of the supermarket. They will hold up pieces of notes that says TAXI and just keep asking you where you want to go. Again, just smile and say no thanks.

Sarongs are provided 
Chances are if it's your first time then you'll know that Bali is popular for their temples and whatever not. There will always be rows of temptations shops by the temple grounds with aunties trying to sell you sarongs, telling you that you will need it to enter the temple. My tip? Smile, ignore, and walk away! This is because sarongs are usually provided to you by the temple for free, or if you'd like you can just drop them a small token of donation.

You also get to match your travel partner!

Respect the temples 
One thing about the Balinese however is that they take very serious care of their temples so if you're visiting then be sure to follow ALL their rules. Ladies who are menstruating are usually not allowed to visit, and some also require us ladies to keep our hair tied up in a neat pony tail or bun. Try not to be the difficult tourist and just adhere to what they say, these are after all sacred grounds.

It's my first time in Bali and never have I found myself learning so much from a single trip, not even when I was a solo traveler in UK 2 years back! More to come on my Bali adventures...when I find myself having the will to sit down and write again.

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