Problems in Bali – and what you can do about it!
Help! I’m going crazy. Especially if you grew up in the western world, there are some things you are not familiar with in Bali. Instead of getting mad and complaining about the problems in Bali, take it with an extra smile and see it as a cultural experience. In the end you’ll have a good story to tell. Learn more about Indonesia.
First of all, one of the problems in Bali is Waiting. Because “Time is rubber”! Staying in Bali you definitely will learn to be patient. Waiting in line in the supermarket, in traffic, for the boat to leave or just waiting for your food in a restaurant. Balinese people aren’t the quickest and also not on time. Not only Germans have to learn how to stay calm. The clocks are ticking differently here. “Everybody is slow and people are lazy”: Learn more about cliches about Indonesia.
One of the most annoying problems in Bali is traffic. Being on the road in Bali you will feel like in a computer game. It’s messed up and it seems chaotic and orderless. People are driving with up to 4 people on their scooter and are real Transport Artists. Simply just go with the flow and have a closer look at the rules of scooter driving in Bali. But remember, you only have one life. Do you need transport in Bali?
“Sorry, no have!” Things are not available
Sitting in a restaurant, super hungry and getting super excited about a nice and juicy burger. Sometimes – quite often actually, it happens that they don’t have all items on the menu. A lot of food depends on the season when it grows and sometimes it just depends on whether they were out shopping or not.
Changing an order in a restaurant
It might sound very normal and obvious to change your order and demand salad instead of rice, tomatoes instead of onions and no garlic in your omelette. Well yes, in the western world changes are very normal. In Bali sometimes the people have difficulties understanding what you mean and also might charge you extra for simple changes. When it sounds unfair at first think about it: The price of rice is very cheap and salad is considered as something “fancy” – simply because they don’t eat it as much. Try Bali’s Street Food: Eat like a local!
No free milk with your coffee
Same with milk. What might be normal in the western world, some places – especially the local places (warungs) might charge you extra for milk. It is simply not part of their culture and mostly imported. So, of course, the costs are very high for them if they provide you with milk. So it’s not evil or “ripping you off” if they charge a bit extra.
The worst internet ever
Your patience is on demand again! Internet in Bali really is a hassle if you don’t know where to go and how to use it. Most Homestays and Warungs just use little routers or hot spots from their phone to provide you with internet. The up- and download rate is mainly good for checking mail, WhatsApp and some Facebook stuff.
Please respect that fact: In Bali it is just not common to have high-speed internet and offer you a service you might have at home. Internet is very expensive here and everything is still developing. Please don’t stream movies, download huge less or have long Skype talks. If you need to get some work done, there is a quite a good range of co-working spaces which offer decent internet. Also our team went on a journey and found the best Wifi spots in Bali to get some things done. (There its okay – we asked!)
Problems in Bali with Navigation and Google Maps
- Google maps doesn’t accept Bali style driving: Google maps is not aware of the fact that you can turn around wherever you are. Especially in areas like Denpasar with many one-way streets a wrong turn might cost you 30 minutes more since Google is finding a new route. Keep an eye on your map and simply turn around if you took a wrong turn. Or even better, don’t even try and have a relaxed trip with a local driver. He knows all the places! Find them with HSH Ride!
- Places don’t have street names: Especially in the western world, we are used to street signs and street numbers. They rarely have that here on Bali. Best is to ask people since many places are not marked on google.
- There is no street even though there is on the map: Sometimes there is a street on google where is a wall in reality. Yes, that happens – sometimes the people decide to build a house on a road and of course, the road has to go. It`s not you, also not your phone which is broken – It`s just a wall.
- A street is not a street but a motocross race track: “Hm, maybe I should use a different street to see something new” you might think this is a good idea since most of Bali’s streets are okay to drive on. But very quickly a street which seems unremarkable turns into a dirt road, full of holes and stones. Especially in the mountain area of Batur or in Ubud if you want to head towards the east coast – watch out for potholes. You won’t see it on the map!
Candy currency: Candy for change
Being the country with the second highest inflation rate, it is a bit confusing they still have and also use coins. Sometimes it happens that they run out of coins and give you candy instead of change. Also some people could reject you paying them with coins. We wish we could pay them in candy, too, but the other way round doesn’t just work yet.
You will always be the rich white one
They grew up with a different picture of the world and the majority will put your white skin equal with you being rich. Even though we have more money (and more costs), of course, it doesn’t mean we are automatically rich, but for them we are. It helps to explain that our expenses are equal to our income. But Indonesians are not the only ones with prejudices. Westerners might do them wrong also at times! Clichés about Indonesia: We are all full of shit!
Getting ripped off
Charging you a higher price is part of the culture. It seems like sometimes white people have an invisible ATM-tattoo on their forehead. It is more or less your duty to haggle over the price. Not with restaurants and less with accommodation but more on the market and sign up for tours and things.
Alcohol is ridiculously expensive
The taxes on alcohol in Indonesia are very high. Therefore, if you want a good glass of wine, be prepared to pay a high price for it. Also, apart from Bali, it is very hard to find alcohol. Some restaurants and warungs “have to” smuggle the alcohol in their restaurant and don’t have it on the menu. In Java for example, simply ask if they have a Bintang. They do – even though they don’t write it on the menu. Take care of yourself and watch out for methanol poisoning!
Water only in Plastic bottles
You cannot drink the tap water in Indonesia. It ‘s quite easy to get drinking water here, you simply buy it on the street, in the restaurant or in the shop. In Indonesia, you buy any kind of water in plastic bottles. One of the biggest problems in Bali is this huge amount of produced waste of waste. The recycling system is not as advanced as it is in the western world. For nature and your moral it is better to fill up your plastic bottle instead of constantly buying new ones. Also it is worth to invest in a steel bottle and fill up your water bottle wherever you are. Warungs, restaurants and public places usually have those huge water gallons. For a small fee you can refill your bottle. You are saving money and doing something good. Alternatively, bring your own reusable water bottle from home! Check what to bring for your Bali vacation
Call me Wayan – Everybody has the same name
Being in Bali you will wonder why most people have the same name. They are either Nyoman, Gede, Ketut or Wayan. It is very funny to meet all those individuals called Nyoman. Read why Balinese people have the same names.
Sometimes you swim in trash
Depending on the time of the year and the current, garbage piles will be swamped to shore and it’s a nightmare to go swimming. It is so easy to get mad and judge, but we have to understand why this happens. It’s not because people are stupid, its because they don’t know.
Some waves are as busy as NYC Time Square
Bali is famous. Not only for its beautiful nature and world class diving but of course for its incredible surf. Many people know, so of course,, waves are super busy. Check out the areas and beaches in Bali and spread out a bit. There is space for everybody. Find the best surf spots on Bali!
Getting lost in the online booking jungle
There are many booking options if you want to stay in a hotel or in a villa. But what about places like Guesthouses, Homestays, Bungalows and Beach Huts? Life is too short for ordinary holidays. Meet the locals and find your private low budget bungalow out of over 1.000 Homestays all over the place. Do you need some recommendations or some help planning your travels? Tell us a little bit about yourself and get some help from locals & experts customized for your unique Bali vacation. Get a free & customized travel plan!