Ten Cultural Shocks of Bali You Should Be Prepared For
When you visit another country with different traditions and culture, you inevitably come across things that might even shock you. In such moments, there's no need to get upset or worried; you just need to be prepared for the fact that other people live differently. Here's a small list of things that might shock you in Bali. Don't be afraid, just be ready for them.
1. You receive an excessive amount of attention.
Perhaps everyone has dreamed of waking up famous at least once in their life, with people pointing at you, recognizing you on the street, and asking for autographs or joint photos.
That's exactly how you'll feel in Bali. Especially if you're a fair-skinned blonde. Everyone you pass by will shout hello to you, it will be difficult to fend off offers to take photos together, everyone will want to be friends with you and have a fun time. Or they'll simply watch you from a distance, occasionally taking photos.
Believe me, after just a couple of days, it becomes tiresome, and after a few more days, it's downright irritating."
2. You'll be offered to eat with your hands
When you venture into local warungs in search of exotic experiences, be prepared for the fact that you won't be offered utensils alongside your dish.
Local residents often eat with their hands, as it's much more flavorful that way. Not every tourist is prepared for this. In fact, not every tourist knows how to eat with their hands.
Be ready to try something new - eating with your hands. You might even enjoy it. Don't be shy, just give it a try!
3. Everyone wants to touch you
Don't be surprised if your new Balinese friend tries in various ways to touch you. People in Asia, in general, have this characteristic, but it's a bit more common in Bali. In reality, it's a way to show their friendliness.
If you're traveling with a young child, everyone will want to cuddle and touch them. If you're in a romantic relationship, your partner will touch you again and again. This is how Balinese people demonstrate their warmth towards guests, especially those with fair skin.
Moreover, locals have a myth that touching fair skin as often as possible prevents aging, keeping the skin firm and young.
Although there aren't many same-sex couples in Bali, if you come across any, they will definitely hold hands and constantly touch each other.
4. Time doesn't exist
When you arrange to meet or make a deal with a Balinese person, be prepared to wait.
If your appointment is set for 3 o'clock, your local friend might show up at 4, and that's perfectly normal. Don't get angry or upset; just accept it as a matter of course. Even if your friend arrives three hours late, they'll be wearing a smile, confident that everything is going as it should.
Bali is a place where time doesn't hold much significance and tends to stretch. Need something done today? No problem, we'll do it tomorrow; nobody will be harmed by it. A little patience, and everything will happen.
5. Nothing is hidden
Balinese people are incredibly friendly. Sometimes, they can be so friendly that they'll be curious about your every detail, including your most intimate matters. They simply want to know everything about you.
They'll shower you with questions: who you are, where you're from, who your wife is, what your occupation is, how much you earn per month, what childhood illnesses you had, what your second cousin did last year in Alaska, and why you have a scar on your right buttock. They're curious about everything and absolutely need to know. You'll be bombarded with questions at a cosmic speed, and these types of inquiries can go on for hours.
6. Paradise for Daredevils
General slowness and tardiness are the norm in Bali. That's how life is here – there's no rush, everything will be there when you get there. But there's one thing that doesn't tolerate delays – driving on the roads. Here, you definitely need to speed along, making daring turns, overtaking and cutting others off. Speed limits, seatbelts, staying in your lane? Nope, haven't heard of them.
Despite the existence of traffic rules in Indonesia, they're more of a recommendation in Bali. While in Jakarta, you might get pulled over by the police for not following them, the situation is quite different in Bali.
Sure, you'll see police officers on the roads, but it's more to collect fines than to regulate traffic. That's why locals prefer to follow the principle of "first come, first served."
7. One Name for All
After spending some time interacting with Balinese people, you'll inevitably start to wonder: why do all Balinese people have the same names?
Of course, not all Balinese people have identical names, but you'll mostly come across Made and Wayan.
The thing is, Balinese tradition involves naming their children in sequential order of birth. The firstborn is named Wayan, the second is Made, the third is Nyoman, and the fourth is Ketut. And then it starts over – the fifth is Wayan again, and so on. Gender doesn't matter. Why bother coming up with complex names for your children? So, if you happen to attend a local wedding, don't be surprised when you find out that both the bride and groom are named Wayan.
8. Gods and Spirits Around Us
For Balinese people, life is a constant pursuit of spiritual balance. Everything around them must be in harmony. All the spirits and gods around them must also exist in harmony and benevolence. That's why they constantly need to appease them, offer offerings, and perform ceremonies. Several times a day, it's necessary to show gratitude to the spirits with special baskets filled with flowers, rice, cookies, and even cigarettes. While strolling around the island, you'll undoubtedly notice that these offerings are placed literally everywhere.
When heading to a temple for a ceremony, Balinese individuals always don traditional attire. To avoid changing clothes twenty times a day, they continue wearing these outfits until evening.
9. Smile Wider
During your trip to Bali, your cheeks will experience quite a workout. Constantly smiling isn't that easy for an ordinary Russian. Hotel staff, taxi drivers, shopkeepers, massage therapists, and even passersby will smile at you for any reason and no reason. It's impossible not to smile back; they're giving you their wholehearted warmth.
And even if you're having a bad day today, that's no reason to walk around looking gloomy. As the children's song goes: share your smile, and it will return to you more than once.
10. Grandmothers in Ditches
It sounds a bit strange, and it looks even stranger. While passing through small villages during an excursion, you're likely to see grandmothers washing themselves topless in the muddy water of the ditches by the roadside. They're also washing their laundry there.
As sad as it may be, Indonesia is a poor country, and there are many poor people in Bali as well. Not everyone has a piped water supply at home, and not everyone has enough money to buy clean water. This is how Balinese people make do as best as they can.
And as for the topless grandmothers, it's a tribute to traditions. Throughout history, both men and women in Bali wore the same clothing – a sarong. It wasn't until the influx of tourists that the island's authorities issued a directive for women to cover their chests. You see, men from all corners of the world started coming to admire the beauty of Balinese women. The elderly grandmothers remember those times and prefer to stick to the old ways. It's more comfortable for them.