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TRAVELING IN BALI, INDONESIA
The Balinese are perceptive and sensitive people with beguiling smiles. They are gracious and
somewhat shy. It is important for tourists to show respect by being polite. Even if you are asked a
hundred times while walking down the street whether you need a taxi, take a moment to look at the
person, smile and shake your head. Politeness will open many doors for you. Remember the inter-
relationships between Balinese are extensive, the person you are rude to might be the brother of the
waitress serving you or the cousin of your the host of your inn or guest house. The Balinese people
have a lifestyle rich with the important things in life, but financially they are often poor. Consider this
when you respond to their offers for work.
Balinese Puras (Temples)
It should be noted that public Balinese Puras (not private home temples) are used expressly for
rituals and religious festivals, as compared to Hindu Temples in India where swamis and lay people
may sit all day to meditate and the naivaidayam is offered and later shared as prasad.
Also, Balinese Puras are the resting place and home for ancestral spirits, nature deities; of the
family, community and the island, as well as, the traditional Indian Gods; Shiva, Ganesha and
Krishna. Few puras have the India deities in statue form for people to venerate but most temples
have carved friezes or murals of the Ramayana. (The epic Indian story of the struggle between evil
and good.) A number of people have read the Bhagavad Gita in Balinese.
The most sacred relics are generally kept in boxes covered with a cloth and usually behind alter
doors on top of tall padmasana or pelinggih meru within the pura. It is required in a majority of
temples that visitors wear a sarong and sash. These can easily be purchased or rented at some
temples for a nominal fee.
Bali does have Shamen who are not necessarily Hindu but follow the traditional ways. There are
very few of them. The Founders were told that they get along with the Hindu Brahman priests and
neither sees any conflict of interest. Shamen, like Shamen all over the world are prevented from
ever asking money for the work they do. Normally it is left to the family or individual who is helped to
determine the gift and/ or money they will give the Shaman. The life of a true Shaman anywhere in
the world is a life of extreme sacrifice and usually poverty. Shamen often can see into both the past
and the future according to their individual path. Their abilities are quite different from being an
herbal healer. The skill of a shaman is honed to help their community and so unless a non-Balinese
is an anthropologist, they’re gifts most likely will be of little benefit to the tourist.
Weather - Wet Hair
Bali is probably hotter and infinitely more humid than any other equatorial place you’ve visited,
especially the interior. Individuals with long hair: if you take a shower without drying your hair (and
hair dryers outside of the commercial tourist areas can be far and few between), it may never dry
as long as you are exposed to the outdoors. The best option is to wash your hair in the evening and
stay inside your room until it dries with the windows shut and the a/c or fan on.
Ubud, Computer Care & Repair
While in Ubud in December, there were numerous major monsoon thunderstorms. If you have a
computer either operate off the battery or bring a surge protector.
Ajata and Virginia, who usually were working on a table, decided to look into some things while the
computer was resting on the bed. The computer was unable to ventilate properly and the RAM was
destroyed. Smart, intelligent and hard-working Netu of our inn immediately contacted MOMA, a
computer wiz (and a relative of our hosts) to fix the computer. Moma not only gave us RAM to use
from one of his computers so we could get back to work but also had a new RAM delivered from
Denpasar and brought it to us and put it in the computer within just a few days. If you are in Ubud
and need computer help, contact: Moma: Goutama Selatan No.22,, Ubud, Phone:
Moma and his brother have a locally popular internet cafe.
Partying Australians, Surfers & Others
The Founders were not in the surfing areas of Kuta or where large numbers of young Australians,
surfers and others go to party. This area puts a strain on Balinese culture, but the rest of the island,
where the important temples are located in the North, South and Central areas are inspiring. If you
are trying to connect with Balinese culture, Kuta and areas attracting a partying crowd will not be
where you want to stay.
Table Top Condiments
It is not common to find salt and pepper on tables in restaurants in the non-commercial tourist areas.
(This is also true in Java.) Balinese do not highly season (spice) their food. For the numerous
visiting Indians from India, Malaysia and Singapore you can buy a salt, pepper or a mild (sometimes
mixed with something unusual) chili powder at stores to use as necessary.
Non-sugar sweeteners for those who are watching their blood sugar are also not common.
Diabetics would be wise to bring a non-sugar sweetener with them.
Allergy To MSG
A number of bottled condiments on the table in both Bali & Java have MSG. Chinese restaurants
should be considered prime users, (even some Chinese Vegetarian restaurants may use it.) The
use is widespread in Java and it is hard to find out if it is being used until you get a pounding
headache or some other symptom.
Transportation to important temples in Bali fall into two broad categories because they are not
located within cities; either motorcycle rental or hiring a car and driver. Hiring a car and driver is a
simple matter and it is easy to find what a fair price is by just by asking around. There are tours but
they may not stay as long as you would like and may take you to places you aren’t particularly
interested in. To get the most from your day trip locate several temples along the route to stop at
coming and going.
Lastly, you can just tell the driver, especially if you have hired him before and like him, what you can
afford to pay and whether he can take you where you want to go for that price. That is an easy way
to determine a price. (You might want to say “Inclusive of all parking fees and tolls.”)