Bali blog 1:- What I’ve learnt so far…

Today is the 27th of December 2019, and we are just starting our 2nd week of our month in beautiful Bali, Indonesia.

In this blog I wanted to share a few things that I have learnt about Bali so far, some of these are things that aren’t typically talked about on travel blogs/ Instagram posts. I hope this blog will help anyone who is thinking of visiting Bali or is just genuinely interested about what Bali is like behind the lens.

Transport

Alot of the travel blogs and posts that I have read suggest using online taxi services such as Grab, Go Jek, and Bluebird (all similar to uber) as a good way for tourists to get around the island. However, these online taxis are actually “banned” by the locals.

The locals feel as though their profits are being taken away by the large corporations such as Grab and Go Jek and have taken great measures to put tourists off using them. (Although there are many local grab drivers, many also come from neighbouring Indonesian islands and send the profits home.)

The average monthly wage of a Grab driver is much higher than that of a local taxi driver, despite local taxi prices being so much more expensive. This is due to taxes imposed by the local governments. Local taxi drivers should pay 30% tax on their monthly earnings to go towards the upkeep of the local roads, insurances, etc…

Signs like this claiming that the online transport apps are banned can be seen all over the island

As well as the signs, we have heard stories of local taxi drivers physically assaulting the online taxi drivers and vandilising their vehicles. I read an article that one Grab driver in Seminyak was assaulted and beaten by 4 local taxi drivers for picking up a tourist in their territory. This is a severe example, but many similar things have happened all over the island giving the local drivers the reputation of a “taxi mafia.”

Despite the “bans” hundreds of online taxis still operate all over the island. From my experiences it is clear to see that many Grab and Go Jek drivers are wary of picking up tourists in any busy built up areas where there may be a threat from local taxis. I have even had drivers cancel the ride if they deemed the pick up area too dangerous.

If you are thinking of getting a Grab or Go Jek in Bali I would recommend asking to be picked up down a side road, or a quiet street. Also, dont make it too obvious that you are ordering a taxi on your phone or flash your phone around as the locals will pick up on it and alert local taxis.

When we first arrived we had ordered a Grab to take us to the supermarket, and while we were waiting for it to arrive a local approached us asking what we were doing. (We didn’t know that grab was banned at this point) When our Grab driver arrived he immediately sent him away and called us a local taxi driver to use instead, we used the local driver for a few days until we realised that he was charging more and more every day and seemed to be making the prices up off the top of his head! After another look on Grab, we saw that he had been charging us over double for the same short journey, sometimes more.

Local taxi driver asking for over double the price for the same journey as on Grab.

Personally, I think for tourists, apps like Grab and Go Jek are just more convenient and safer than local taxis as there is a set price and it can be paid on card. Also you have the driver information, location tracking and reviews to rely on aswell.

However it is really just an ethical choice between supporting the local economy but paying ALOT more for a service that may not be as safe of convenient, or paying less for the more convenient transport apps but giving the money to a large company.

Either way, it’s good just to be aware of the tensions and issues between the taxis and transport apps when visiting Bali so you can make a safe and informed choice of which to use.


Pricing

The currency in Bali is Indonesian Rupiah (IDR) the exchange rate of £ : IDR is roughly 1 : 18081.

Alot of things are super cheap compared to the UK, for example a taxi journey that would usually cost me about £12 at home would cost around £1.30 here on Grab.

Having food delivered is so cheap that it’s hardly worth making food at home!

Our usual order from local resturant Lovster

This screenshot shows our usual order at a local resturant, which costs us 416,000 IDR (£23) which includes the delivery charge, this worked out at about £5 per person which is super cheap!

Lovster Bali Instagram

Lovster Bali Website

It’s easy to get confused by the pricing of things and the notes as they are all such high numbers, I’d definitely reccomend getting a currency conversion app just to double check things as it’s easy to get caught out and just assume everything is cheap.

In the supermarkets, some items (usually the imported things or touristy items) are WAY more expensive! I think in some ways they rely on people not knowing the actual price of things. In the supermarket we saw small inflatables for around 1084,000 IDR which is around £60! It’s the same at the markets too, alot of the stalls have the exact same thing but at varying prices so just being aware of that can save you alot of money.

Alot of things are paid for in cash here aswell so make sure you have some on you at all times. When you draw out cash from an ATM it will ask you which type of account you’d like to take the money from. The options are: savings, quick cash, and credit. Always choose credit as it charges you the least extra with the exchange rate for Mastercard.


Being respectful

In Bali, it’s clear that religion is a massive part of everyday life! Tha main way this is demonstrated is by offerings in the form of a woven bamboo plate with flowers, sweets and incense which are placed by statues, outside shops and at temples.

An example of an offering left outside of our front door

There are a few small things I’ve learnt to keep in mind in order to be respectful of the Balisian culture. The offerings are often left in seemingly random places such as right in the middle of the pavement. You just have to watch where you’re walking to avoid stepping on them or knocking them over just out of respect.

Another thing is that when you visit a temple, you will be expected to have your shoulders and legs covered. Most temples give out sarongs for free upon entry or for hire, double check this before visiting as each temple is different. There are often sellers outside of them with sarongs but they do charge quite alot.

Adrian & I at Goa Gajah temple in Ubud

Weather

If you are considering visiting Bali during the rainy season, like we have, you may have some concerns. We had read alot about flooding and heavy downpours in Bali from the months of October – April. December/ January was the only time we were able to make this trip so we were a little worried that it would be a washout after reading some horror stories online.

Bali sunset on Christmas Eve 2019

So far we have only had one rainy day since we’ve been here, every other day has been super sunny and hot with the occasional 20 minute shower in the evening – nothing that would ruin any plans!

Weather forecast

All of our weather apps seemed to show thunder, rain, and lightning on perfectly sunny days for some reason? So don’t be put off by this as it’s really not the case!

Rainy day in Ubud

So that’s a few random things that I have learnt about Bali since arriving. I’m sure there will be many more by the time I leave!

If you’ve visited Bali and experienced any of these things I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Xxx