Bali is a magical place for tourists for many reasons. The locals will bend over backward for you in any department when you need something. Everything seems cheap as hell, where you wonder how they make any money at all with the crazy low prices. There is plenty of beautiful scenery to admire such as rice fields and temples and volcano trekking and even the depths of Bali is beautiful to a stranger – I used to love going away from the hustle and bustle finding the “real Bali”.
The crazy scooter traffic has you in ah of how it just seems to work without any accidents.
You can lounge like a King around infinity pools and hotel resorts for $100 per night that would set you back $500 per night in Los Angeles, California. There really is nothing like the villas and cliffside resorts that they have in Bali.
The massages are some of the best you’ll ever have for $30 or less (and $30 are the expensive ones).
The western food is glorious and colorful and well-made and delicious and less than $7 most of the time.
The internet is abundant.
It’s easy to stay forever if you really love it (I can tell you how because of course I researched it).
What else could you really want?
Bali seems to have a draw to just about everyone for many of these reasons.
Flipside. Bali also is corrupt af. Think you’re being cool by only eating at warungs (local restaurants or street food – they are called warungs) sure it’s cheap but if there are no prices posted, you are getting overcharged.
Love that volcano trek? Overcharged, by over 10 times! A local climbs mount Ijen for 10,000 Rupiah – that’s less than $1USD – but a tourist climbs it for 150,000 Rupiahs.
Chicken Satay on the side of the street? That will be 20,000 RP but for the local before you, it was 10,000 RP.
Want to visit the famous rice terrace in Ubud? The moment you park, someone in an “official-looking vest” will stop you for a fee to walk around on the street for 10,000 RP per person and will say this includes parking. Don’t pay. Pay 2,000-5,000 RP for parking and sure, if you are about to walk inside the terrace for your Instagram picture, then maybe paying 10,000 isn’t a big deal, but to tell you you need to pay just to walk on the sidewalk? No thank you.
Before I go on, look, I understand that they thrive on tourism. But manipulating people daily who have no idea that you shouldn’t pay for sidewalk privileges(and so much more) is just downright untrustworthy and corrupt.
When you barter with a fruit stand lady for a dragon fruit that you know should cost 15,000 RP but she’s asking 30,000 and she gasps and calls you a crazy ass hole in her language, don’t buy it. It’s all part of the scam to make you feel bad for low balling them when really all you want is some sort of justice with the price of a piece of fruit that you already know should cost about $1 USD – why should you have to pay double? Keep walking – she will find people who will pay that and you will find a trustworthy person who will charge the real price.
I’ve traveled a fair amount in my life thus far, I can’t even count the number of times I have loved a place so much that I thought I could move there – including Bali. Although, I’ll admit I saw an interesting Airbnb venture in my vision but there was something about Bali I just couldn’t put my finger on. I didn’t know why I couldn’t agree with some of my friends who would send me a message asking, don’t you love Bali?! My response would be I love the cheap prices.
There is some sort of magical Bali aura around the word Bali if you have never been or if you’ve been for a short amount of time – You’ve seen the Instagram photos of swings over rice terraces, the wonderful looking food (and you don’t even know how cheap it is yet), the filters of sunsets overlooking uncrowded beaches and the wonderful villas with your own private pools.
But then you arrive, and there’s a man peeing on a wall right in front of you, stray dogs that will bark at you and potentially bite you giving you rabies, beaches full of trash, ugliness surrounding that very beautiful rice terrace swing photo- It’s just off from what you imagine. Only the good parts are shown and talked about. And I am here to keep it real.
Although, I will admit the weather is fantastic. It’s not very hot nor humid at least during the months I’ve been here (May-October so far) and that is a huge plus for this place.
Four and a half months into living in Bali, working remotely and “living the dream” as my friends think, but I am bored as hell. I can’t find things to do besides eat. Or lay by a pool that you have to pay to get in (in all fairness… I’m not a tanner type of girl so this is only fun a few times for me not a daily occurrence).
If you’ve seen one temple you’ve seen them all.
I don’t care to see the tourist trap Gates of Heaven and wait an hour in line at 7 am (up to 3-4 hours if you arrive later) to get a photo that is faked by a local placing a mirror in front of your camera screen and then also paying for that photo.
After admiring the beautiful rice terraces throughout the island by scooter rides I don’t care to visit the tourist trap ones who pump their water full of chlorophyll just so that one rice field can be greener to attract more people.
The beaches are crowded. And they’re full of trash – trash everywhere and rocks, and reef in the water cutting up your feet just by walking in. If you’re an *experienced* surfer though….the beaches are your dream come true. The waves are great here, so I am told.
Walked too close to a stray dog? It will bark at you, and not stop. I refused to walk around this place after being “chased” by 5 dogs one day so I forced myself to learn to drive a scooter for faster escapes.
I don’t want to drink alcohol not because I’m better than it, it’s just not good. I don’t want a light Bintang beer unless maybe one at the beach. I don’t want an arak cocktail that’s known to make people go blind. Plus the alcohol is expensive and I’ve tried to drink to have a good time and it just doesn’t do it. 500,000 RP later, still sober wondering why the drinks are so weak yet so expensive. All I have found to do here, is eat. And I am a huge fan of the food, and I am even over it at this point simply because it’s all there is to do.
(Okay, Can you tell I’ve had a rough time in Bali? Maybe even a particularly rough day? I wouldn’t talk like this about Bali every day, but with the good days, also come the bad – which people that travel like to leave out, to keep up some facade that their life is always awesome – It’s not.)
What are other expats doing?!?! I wake up early, I make coffee/breakfast. I workout. I meditate. I do morning yoga. I work my normal job. I work on my blog. I write new stories and posts. I go for scooter rides. I go to lunch. I go for tea/coffee. Is that what everyone else is doing too?? I thought I was a fan of the simple life, and I still think that I am because those things and that type of day truly makes me happy, but I need something more. I need a splash of a drive to the city. Or an amusement park. Or bowling. Or a Sunday fun-day wine tasting(with decent wine). Or a bike ride along the beach, or hoping on a Bird scooter and going around town with friends. Maybe I am missing friends here in Bali, but even if I had them – I don’t know what we would do besides getting food or coffee and talking…
I’m sure you are thinking up all sorts of things I could do…. Go to a cooking class, go visit this temple, go to the beach, go to the pool, go to a gym, start a new hobby. I have done those things, and if I’m not doing them again, it’s because they weren’t that great. I honestly don’t remember ever being bored in my life except when I was back in High School watching TV waiting to go do something with my friends. I remember pure boredom in High School, and I will remember it in Bali too. (I’m crazy… I know…or maybe I’m just telling the truth?)
Although, another plus is I do feel very safe in Bali. I feel like I could drive my scooter all around and not get caught up in any danger or be taken and that is a very nice feeling. It allows me to go on scooter rides up volcanos, get stuck in small towns and get helped down by locals but that’s another story.
Except, when I park my scooter on the same side of the road as everyone else in a “no parking zone” in town where people park every single day, and my tire is the only one slashed. I dislike Bali. And when I ask the lady in the store if she saw who did it when we darn well that lady was sitting facing forward-facing the bike, and she smiles and says no. Thanks, Bali. When I look down the street and there’s a group of three locals looking over at me laughing at the situation because they know exactly what happened – Damn you Bali. Everyone said it was the Police who did it. That it’s a no-parking zone. Sadly, I believe it was the police that did it but why only mine? Why is this the SECOND time in one week to happen only to mine? Just park somewhere else you say? Well… where??? That is where to park – even though it’s “no parking” it’s so full of parking you can’t find a place sometimes.
The town doesn’t have much parking, almost everything is a no parking zone it seems. I pulled up once to a curb to park and a guy holding a taxi sign asked me for 5,000 RP to park there. What?! You’re obviously not a parking meter you’re a taxi guy trying to scam a tourist. It’s not about the amount of money – I realize 5,000 RP is like .50 cents it’s about the principle of being scammed – and it’s getting old. Never thought I would say I miss Americas 1 million crazy stupid rules but I miss about 20 of them right about now.
Am I glad I came to Bali? Yes… Has a lot of shit in my life “happened” since I’ve been here? Yes.
I arrived in late May. Since then in early June – my mom passed away.
In July I broke up with my boyfriend.
In August I was in and out of the Hospital with hives caused by stress (STRESS! WHAT?! I’M LIVING IN BALI I SHOULDN’T HAVE STRESS – But did you read 1 and 2? That’s enough to bring on hives apparently…. something I’ve never experienced in my life hence the hospital visits becuase I thought I was dying).
In September my debit card got scammed at an ATM and someone stole over $5000 USD from my account. They took everything I had in there.
I have one month left here in Bali and dare I say “ what else do you have for me??” “What other lessons must I learn??”
On a positive note, I was able to save about $9,000 for a van I want to buy in New Zealand. Did I eat like a King? Yup. Did I see all the things? Yup. Did I go all over the island – yeah pretty much. I explored the shit out of this place and happy to say I don’t think I missed anything. I learned to ride a scooter and felt like a badass doing it.
I made friends with locals who I will visit every time I come back. I have my favorite places to see, eat and do that I can recommend to my friends, family and strangers forever.
I have life long experience and soul searching that was achieved and a new journey to follow.
I am at peace with every “bad” thing that happened while I was here as it brought me to the person I am today, a few short months later – which I may not notice a huge change in myself right away but I will, in time, and I will know it came from this time I spent and learned from in Bali.
I really am living some sort of dream and I actually can’t wait to see what October brings me.