Today I will share with you my confessions and reasons why many people do not stay in Bali forever and leave after a while.
I lived in Bali for 4 years and tried to get back to my normal city life a few times. There are many pros and cons to Bali life. Pros are pretty obvious and even if you have never been there you can guess – lots of sun, ocean, surfing, waves, landscapes, people, fruits and relaxation… this list is quite long.
People from all over the world that you meet in Bali are incredible. Some of them choose to stay and consider Bali as their Paradise, closing their eyes on the numerous drawbacks.
Today I will tell you about the things that not everyone sees.
When you live in a place you see completely different picture in contrast to what you see while you visiting a place as a tourist.
(photo by A.Bodrova).
During my life in Bali, I was involved in a community of expats and also tourists, and I have experienced many things that made me want to leave.
Here is where the horror stories begin. Dark side of Bali from the ex-insider. (Disclaimer: of course, it can be dangerous anywhere in the world. Writing this I just would like to warn you if you are going there – consider these stories and be prepared and mindful).
So, here is the dark side of Bali and why I personally did not want to live there anymore. Why many of Bali expats leaving the island.
Here are the things you have to be aware of traveling to Bali:
There are more and more cases of robberies, assaults, corruption and other crimes happening. I witnessed lots of thefts, my friends who lived there and who visited the island suffered from thieves and many people got robbed twice or more. This also happens in secure houses and resorts. It does not mean that it will happen to you, but it is always better to be aware.
There are a few kinds of robberies that you have to be aware of:
Simple and silly robberies at the beach or whenever you leave your belongings unattended
when naive tourists leave their smartphones and cameras at the beach and go swimming – that is obvious that your belongings are more likely to go missing.
Thieves come to your villa/ house while you are away or sleeping and take all the valuables that they can find. People who live in Bali say even if you see the thief in this case it is better to pretend you are sleeping… Otherwise, they can hurt you.
Majority of all the robberies happen just before local holidays and Muslim holidays.
It even happens when thieves robbed the hotel rooms and entire floors. Even if you stay in the hotel – make sure to lock your valuables in the safety box at all times.
This is one of the most dangerous for your health assaults and a very common case: thieves rip off your shoulder bags, clutches, cameras and whatever you have on your body on a stripe.
How to prevent:
wear a backpack /something that is more attached to your body or put your handbags/wallets/cameras into your motorbike trunk while driving.
Do not carry your passport and important documents with you if not necessary (usually it is not), it is better leave it at home in the secure safety box. But make sure that your safety box is screwed into the wall.
Bars, night clubs
If you go to the night clubs – be very aware of pickpockets. Watch your smartphones or even leave it home if you are not sure you will be mindful at all times. Do not carry any documents with you. After so many parties, even sober parties, many visitors left without their belongings. Every time I leave a party I see a few friends and random people who are missing their phones. It is a whole big business for locals and a very very common case.
Over the past few years there are more assaults in Bali.
Government tries to control spread of information about it, so they do not allow this information get to the news, especially internationally.
I personally know several real stories when Indonesian men assault female tourists in an attempt to rape and the outcomes are pretty terrifying. There were a few times when they killed a victim. Usually they are the workers from the construction areas, arrived from other Islands around the country.
I myself got assaulted twice and luckily I have not suffered except of a couple of bruises and a big stress.
I was very scared lastly of this bad situation and in general I use to cover myself and wear trousers, jackets etc. Even when it is hot – to cover your white skin avoiding too much attention.
One time in the evening (around 10PM) someone was following me all the way down the road and then started harassing me, trying to grab me while I was driving and he was driving next to me. That was super scary and disgusting. I was trying to escape, asking him to leave me alone in a nice way and then in not nice way too. So we had to fight and eventually I threw my helmet to him. Fortunately after a few minutes someone passed by, so my enemy left, but I was freaked out for a few weeks after that he will follow me again.
Nothing like this happened to any other destinations I’ve ever been to.
A very common assault – when men grubbs a woman humps while whe is driving.
When you are driving young guys are passing by with a very fast speed, grab legs and breasts of your passenger or a driver and then they drive away quickly. It looks like they are just have this kind of a joke or a game. A very dangerous one, as far as it is very distractive and often a reason for an accident and very offensive.
Even if you drive slowly or even if you are a professional motor bike rider and driving a bike since you were born, if you are Valentino Rossi or whoever you are – you are still in the risk.
Bali roads are crazy and chaotic, where noone follow the rules and not many people respect other. Even if you do everything to drive safe, someone can just crush into you and put your life under the risk.
The thing is that everyone thinks it could happen to other people, but not to you.
I have received many phone calls from my friends who desperately needed for help and support in the hospital. And I had to rush to help them. When I tell these stories to new arrival friends – of course, noone cares and then gets into trouble ha.
Every year few people from our expat community pass away on the roads. Pretty regularly I see friends collecting funds for real hospital treatments, that insurance does not cover.
Moreover, in the accidents, 99.9% of local people will never be guilty and responsible. If you call the police, it is more than likely that you will have to pay for the crashed bike and the hospital expenses of the other person, but not the other way around. Because they consider white people at fault at all times and we are just money bags for them in majority of the cases.
Horrible Traffic. Often difficult to move around, poor road conditions.
Many people wonder how did paradise could become a hell?
Recycling problems and ignorance, air and water pollution become bigger and bigger issue.
Local government do not do much about it and only expats from foreign countries are talking about this problem and trying to take an action, collecting funds, organising new recycling solutions and so on.
Locals do not want to invest funds and time to solve this issues. In a rainy season, when ocean currents are changing, beaches are infested with garbage. Water is full of plastic and garbage that they just throw into the water.
No one cares about vehicle’s pollution, and you can use the worst motorbike or a car that is killing the ecology and no one cares.
4. Attitude of locals.
If you want to do a business, you need to pay lots of bribes – to the government, to the council, to the mafia that covers you, to your suppliers etc. They ask more and more, so one day many businesses are clothing under that pressure.
Moreover, It is harder to negotiate the price and to communicate that you actually really would like to pay an average fair price for a product /service, but not a price that suppose to be times five.
Attitude of locals.
It is not about everyone, but in general – no one cares, getting late, missing the appointments and do not want to understand how to improve.
Everything is famous ‘tomorrow’ with zero level of responsibility. It is not easy to make them do something well. Even expats in Bali are becoming too relaxed and lazy lol, it is just in the air. If you want to organise something – it is always a struggle.
Apart from blessed and kind people that you meet, unfortunately there are so many people who always want something from you and considering white people (‘Bule’) have billions of dollars on their accounts. That is why many Indonesian guys are trying to find a foreign girlfriend (watch ‘Kuta cowboys’ – true old movie). People annoy you on the streets and beaches trying to get your attention. One of my french friend has got a young Indonesian boyfriend and got pregnant from him. He started to blackmail her asking for money, cause he made her a baby… (!?) and she has to pay for it. Yes.
After a while you start to feel like majority of people you meet there trying to get something you. Of cause, I know many local people who help you and are very kind, not asking anything in return, however in more cases it is opposite. Be kind and fair, just do not be to naive, otherwise you can be ripped off 🙂
6. Cleanliness and anty sanitary.
It is very easy to get an infection or inflammation. I was actually very lucky and never got food poisoning, but almost everyone in the community and many tourists got serious issues. Ear infection and Dengue fever are very ordinary.
Please please please be mindful what do you eat and where do you make your tattoo. My good friend was working in one of the best tattoo salons, where the artists went to the toilet and continued working with the same gloves… They just do not care about anything. Because of lack of education and responsibility, lack of punishments these people do whatever they want. Maybe they will think to wash their hands and fruits for your salad ‘tomorrow’. Again, this is not about everyone, but the majority is unfortunately like that.
Price vs Value
The infrastructure and the quality of life are not really growing in contrast to prices. When you pay a few thousands of dollars to book your villa to rent it, you might expect around the villa everything will be luxurious too and appropriate to the price you’ve paid.
You can not imagine, how surprised are people who arrive and see the mud and garbage outside of their luxurious villa and a construction infront, no street lights, no street roads. Not everyone is expecting that booking a ‘luxury’ stay. Prices grow drastically, but quality of life around is not changing much, which is a quite embarrassing.
Everything is based on my true experience and I want you to know it. It is a little bit negative, but hope this information will be useful for you. Stay safe and travel smart!
How to avoid being scamed in Bali?
I would say no one is not under the risk, but, simple rules will reduce the possibility to be a victim:
Be humble, respectful and polite.
Do not walk in bikini on the streets, do not carry documents with you. If you have a shoulder bag (or a camera bag) or a clutch – put it into the trunk or change it for something more solid as a backpack. Always lock all the doors and put your valuables into the safety boxes. Make sure you have one and it is screwed to the wall. Compare prices and try not to spoil local people too much, otherwise, they can become too greedy and will ask for more every time.
So yes, of course, not everyone is getting in trouble, and it can be dangerous anywhere in the world. I see many people come to Bali and think that nothing can happen who ignore any rules of safety, then you guess how this ends up.
Apart from all those reasons and negative experiences, I also wanted to move on, learn something new, get a good education and work experience in more civilized place.
Bali life for many people is a transition period in their life, when you understand what do you really want in your life, take a break, and try a different way of life to get back to normal with the new energy and ideas.
Hope this information is useful for you and no, not everything is so terrible as it may sound here. Bali is an incredible place with a magic ambience. Many people are lucky and not facing any of these issues during their holidays. I want you to be safe.
Take care and let me know what do you think. If you have any experience like that and what do you do to be safe? Let me know.