Today I 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 have something to tell you. 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 sunshine, ocean, surfing, waves, landscapes, people, tropical fruits and total relax… this list is quite long.
People from all over the world who you meet in Bali are incredible. Some of them choose to stay and consider Bali as their Paradise, closing their eyes on numerous drawbacks, however, one day everyone is thinking escaping the paradise at the certain point.
Today I will tell you about the things that not everyone may see straight away.
You may understand that when you live in a place you see a completely different picture in contrast to what you see while you visiting a place as a tourist.
(photo by A.Bodrova).
During my stay in Bali, I was involved in a community of expats and tourists too, and I have experienced many things that made me want to leave.
Here is a 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).
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.
This also does happen in secure houses and resorts. It does not mean that it will happen to you 100%, but it is always better to be aware of the situation around you.
There are 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 for a swim – that is obvious that your belongings are more likely to go missing, so please, do not leave anything unattended, do not take valuables to the beach and do not leave anything in the trunk of the scooter (see below).
What to do? You will still need your money and phone for take your beach photos and wanting to go for a swim/surf, you can ask to leave your bag at the local shop or even surfboard hire guys or someone who sells cold drinks at the beach, or a local warung. You can buy something from them and they will be happy to have a look at your belonging.
This is of course, not 100% secure, but much safer than just drop it in the middle of the beach, these guys are always there and they are more interested to keep their business going that steal something once and run away. Many surfers do that.
Thieves may come to your villa/ house while you are away or (worse) sleeping and take all your valuables they can find. People who live in Bali say even if you see the thief it is better to pretend you are sleeping, otherwise, they can hurt you if they freak out and see the danger on their way.
Majority of all the robberies happen just before local holidays and Muslim holidays, so be extremely conscious these days.
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.
These ones are the most common and the most dangerous for your health. Thieves may rip off your shoulder bags, clutches, cameras and whatever you have on your body on a stripe, that someone can grab and pull.
You may fall off your scooter, sometimes they push or kick you to make you crush, so you can not chase them.
How to prevent:
wear a backpack or 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, no one asks for your passport there!), it is better to leave it at home in the safety box. But make sure that your safety box is screwed into the wall (yes, I had to help to people who got entire safety box stolen).
Bars & 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, many people left without their belongings. Every time I leave a party I see a few friends and random people who are looking for their missing phones. It is a whole big business for locals and a very very common case.
Over the past few years, there are definitely more assaults in Bali happening.
Apparently, the government tries to control the spread of information about it, so they do not allow this information get to the news, especially internationally, to frighten the tourists who bring money to the country.
I personally know several real stories when Indonesian men assaulted female tourists in an attempt to rape them. The outcome was pretty terrifying. There were a few assaults when they also murdered their tourist victim. Usually, they are the workers from the construction areas, arrived from other Islands around the country, not Balinese people.
I myself got assaulted twice and luckily I have not suffered that much except of a couple of bruises, a big stress and a big wish to leave.
I was very devastated and tired lately of this bad situation. I usually 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.
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 and stones to him. Fortunately, after a few minutes, someone passed by, so my enemy left, but I was shocked for a few weeks.
Nothing like this happened to any other destinations I’ve ever been to.
A very common and dangerous assault – when men grub woman’s humps while she is driving, just for fun, huh!
When you are driving young guys are passing by at very high speed, grab legs and breasts of your passenger or a driver and then they drive away quickly. It looks like they 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 extremely 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 no one follows the rules and not many people respect others. Even if you do everything to drive safe, someone can just crush into you and put your bones and your life in the risk.
Everyone thinks it can happen to other people, but not to you, everyone just wants to have fun on their holidays, not thinking about potential dangers.
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 my new arriving tourist friends – of course, no one cares and then gets into trouble, ha!
Sadly, every year few people from our expat community do pass away on the roads. Pretty regularly I see friends collecting funds for serious hospital emergencies, which insurances do not cover.
Moreover, in the accidents, 99.9% of local people will never be considered guilty and responsible. If you call the police, you will have to pay for the crashed bike and the hospital expenses of the other person anyway, 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.
Ecology and Environment
Horrible Traffic causes lots of emission around the road, noone cares if your exhaust is broken and is smoking badly. Due to the road conditions, it might be difficult to drive and if you are driving fast, you might get into a pit or a road crack and crush your scooter and yourself.
Many people wonder how did paradise could become a hell?
Recycling problems and ignorance, air and water pollution become bigger and bigger issue. Many locals dump their rubbish to the rivers, ocean, forests, and surroundings to cut their avoid rubbish collection fees.
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 rubbish. The water is full of plastic and garbage that they just throw in the water.
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 for more and more, so one day many businesses have to close under the pressure and endless expenditures.
The attitude of locals towards work and any commitments.
It is not about everyone, but in general – no one cares, late, missing the appointments and do not want to understand how to improve.
Everyone sticks to famous ‘tomorrow’ or not yet ready (‘belum’) and have zero level of responsibility. It is not easy to make them do the job 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 often 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 (‘Bu-le’) have billions of dollars on their accounts. That is why many Indonesian guys try to find a foreign girlfriend (watch ‘Kuta Cowboys’ – true old movie). People annoy you on the streets and beaches trying to get your attention.
People annoy you on the streets and beaches trying to get your attention. One french woman I knew had 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 the majority of people you meet there trying to get something you. Of cause, I know many local people who help you and who is very kind, not asking anything in return. However, in more cases it is opposite. Be kind and fair, just do not be
Be kind and fair, just do not be too naive, otherwise, you can be ripped off :)
6. Cleanliness and anti sanitary.
It is very easy to catch an infection or inflammation in Bali. 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 and daily issues.
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 in front, no street lights, no street roads. Not everyone is expecting that booking a ‘luxury’ stay. Prices grow drastically, the but quality of life around is not changing much, which is quite embarrassing.
Everything is based on my true experience and I want you to know it. It is a little bit negative but I hope this information will be useful for you. Stay safe and travel smart!
How to avoid scam in Bali?
Simple rules will reduce the possibility to get in trouble:
Be humble, respectful and polite.
Try to avoid walking in your beachwear on the streets, apart from the beach.
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 lock your valuables in the safety box. Make sure you have one and it is securely maintained into 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.
Compare the prices and try not to spoil local people too much with overpaying and throwing big tips, otherwise, they can become too greedy and will ask for more every time. Tips are not required in Bali, but it is nice to leave 1-5,000, 10k max RP($1-10) to thank.
So yes, of course, not everyone gets in troubles, and it can be dangerous anywhere in the world.
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 experience 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.
Bali is an incredible place with a magic ambiance. 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.