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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
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
Moma, thank you again. PS 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