Bali, Indonesia : A Coin with Two Opposite Sides

Tanah Lot, Bali - when it was cloudy

Stepping my feet on the island of Paradise, Bali, always gives me the same surge of feeling every time I visit Bali; the spiritual feelings. I am not a Balinese myself, and I do not mean to discard any useful information, so I shall apologize for the lack of information you might find here.Anyhow, I hope you get the picture of how Bali is.

The beastly heat of Bali welcomed us on midday the 8th of May, 2009. Not only were we welcomed by the heat, we were also welcomed by some ecstatic taxi drivers, who are also working as tour guides now and then. They were offering themselves to take us to the hotel we would like to stay at, plus be our tour guide during our stay on Bali. It is very common that all the taxi drivers there speak English. They do not use correct grammar, but nobody cares I guess as long as the communication keeps going on both sides the driver and the guests/tourists/passengers.

Some people may find it entertaining and helpful at the same time. Some others might find it irritating as the taxi drivers do not seem to know the “hush” button.They keep on talking and simultaneously asking questions, I guess some are rhetorical. On our way to our hotel, we were talking to the taxi driver, about a forty-year-old Balinese man, and he said :

” Sorry ya if I no speak good English. Here all taxi drivers speak English, but broken. Where you from sir/ma’am? first time to Bali? where you go? hot ya”

Sometimes he switched the code into Bahasa Indonesia, because he knew I was from Indonesia.He then handed us his business card and told us to call him whenever we wanted to explore Bali with him as the guide.

That’s about the common conversation when you get into a taxi and speak to the driver. Well, mostly the driver initiates a conversation. They also sometimes greet you in your language if they know where you are from already or mention ecstatically anything associate with your country.

Bali, as many other places in Indonesia, offers quite so many things to see.

East Meets West

It offers variety of food from different range of spiciness; from the not-spicy-at-all food to the spiciest you have ever tried. In all conscience, I am very big on spicy food. Most of the restaurants we’ve been to offer different kinds of foods on their menu, and this often led us to a confusion for sometime. I noticed some people flipping through the menu looking confused on what they wanted to try. Overall, trying out new food on Bali is also a part of the traveling itself. Traveling to me isn’t only exploring new places, but also savoring the local culinary.. Thanks to Mein BT for sharing the happy moments!

I remember being greeted by a middle-aged lady of a foreign beauty when I visited Bali on my high school tour at the end of the academic year 1999. I was on my way back from Kuta beach to my hotel. I remember her countenance when she greeted me “Hello!” and smiled at me. My English was not even close to perfect, and with my broken English, I replied her greeting. She wore a green tank-top, and white shorts; yes, I still remember her as I was a bit surprised being greeted by a foreign woman on the island of Bali. Later, I learned, nearly all visitors there try to greet local and give their smiles to us as a part of blending with the locals.How sweet! We did a bit of chit chat while we were walking side by side. I remember her telling me something, something that made me smile; she enjoyed being there on Bali.

Bali at night is very different compared to where I am from; Surabaya (East Java). It was more than 8 PM when we went out for dinner. Along the streets of Legian region were full of restaurants which did not seem to close any time soon; the night was still long!

just like a song “All night long, all night, all night long”.

Some workers who were dressed differently from other employees of the restaurants, stood in front of their restaurants while offering us or other passers-by to eat at their restaurants. I noticed they also shook hands with some foreigners. They seemed to have known each other I do not know for how long, or maybe they knew each other just recently? who knows.

Warung Wali, Kuta

Some restaurants or places we went to gave us welcome flowers that were slipped behind our ears; the flowers like Balinese slip behind their ears when they are paying homage to their Gods or on the ceremonious events. The restaurants there are mostly open, so you do not have to go inside to know the overall look of the restaurants. I was often captured by the decorations of the many restaurants there. If I were not Indonesian, I would feel like I were home as I saw my flag adorned the wall of the restaurants. I had seen flags from Germany, Australia, Sweden, Switzerland, France, the USA, the Netherlands, and so forth. I guess the owners might be non-Indonesians; they have lived on Bali for some years and run a business there. What a night!

Balinese is not monotheistic and they believe all aspects of their lives are being watched by Gods. Balinese is very spiritual; they believe in karma “ What goes around comes around”. They will do no harm to others as they believe Gods will be in wrath and that will affect their lives, families, and the island of Bali itself. You most likely will see offerings ( incense and some kinds of flowers put in a coconut leave made into a kind of bowl.) The offerings to their gods placed in front of their stores, restaurants, houses, and all that jazz. When we stayed at a hotel in Ubud, I saw an offering placed daily on the porch of the room(s).

Bali is like a coin with two opposite sides; the hustle bustle areas and the tranquil ones. The hustle bustles areas are full of roaring laughter of people, party-goers, shoppers, and all the like. You will forget the frogs, the crickets, the moon. The other side of the coin, the tranquil ones offer you tranquility, the opportunity to contemplate the life and the world and the unspoken words within, a total secrecy of nature where you are able to hear the frogs croak, the cricket, the great opportunity to admire the night sky, and you will be in a deep sleep when it’s time to sleep. The two opposite sides which are bounded by a strong thread called spirituality. The two opposite sides which posses one goal that is to continue on living peacefully for their families, religion(s), and Bali itself. The two opposite sides that amalgamate in the name of “Unity in Diversity” – the motto of my beloved country Indonesia.


Taken in 2009, Didn't they just meet on the world cup match? a nice coincidence

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Click here to read my tips should you ever want to visit Bali- Bali Tips

13 responses to “Bali, Indonesia : A Coin with Two Opposite Sides

  1. Lack of information?! Thanks to your amazing post I now have a good idea of what Bali ‘feels’ like (and you’re right, it does feel spiritual!).
    What that taxi driver said made me smile, they sure sound welcoming…
    I also loved their perspective on spirituality, how they believe in Karma and Gods are watching every move… I’m a firm believer in Karma myself, what goes around comes around!
    Thank you for another amazing post Lulu! 

    • Thanks Lua.
      The taxi driver’s language makes me smile too sometimes, but they are quite brave.
      Yes, what goes around comes around.
      I am not perfect, I make mistakes, and I know how this Karma works.
      May good things happen to us!

  2. Lulu,
    What a beautiful written post! I really wish to visit Bali somedays…maybe in a couple of years. I’ve heard good things about it and I know food is so delicious there. I think I fall in love with Indonesia now… 🙂

    • Keep the faith!
      Nothing is impossible I think.
      The food is varied, I think you’re going to love the food too.
      Indonesia falls in love with you:-)
      Have a nice day Tes

  3. Hey Lulu, that picture of the meal with the fried things and french fries: It looks so American! And the taxi drivers must have been entertaining!

    • hehe yes, I was about to put “Balinese food” on the captain! but wait! soon I realized it wasn’t a Balinese food, I only happened to enjoy it on Bali. Then I decided to put the “East Meets West” caption, because you “met” the western food in the Eastern part of the world:-)
      The taxi drivers are such an inspiration for the English language acquisition; they simple don’t care, as long as you understand what they say. They have some kind of credo ” If you know, I am happy- keeps on talking” hehe

  4. Hi Lulu, wow great and entertaining article about Bali. So complete, Bali is on my wishlist too and your article made me more enthousiast about it. Entertaining taxi drivers there!
    How’s the safety there now? Some time ago there were problems but I now have the impression that it’s much more relaxed now fortunately.

    • yes, the drivers are quite entertaining. When I visit Bali or other places, I am often curious how good they are speaking English. Even the pedicab drivers in Jogja can speak such kind of English:-)
      Speaking of safety,no place on Earth is really save; pick pockets, accidents, etc. But if you are talking about some specific kind of safety, which we both know I think. Bali and other places are save. Perhaps you can come there and take some great shots for inspirations?:-)

  5. Pingback: Discarding Lu’s 9 July’s Thoughts « Lingua Franca·

  6. Dear Lulu, Interesting information about the beautiful Island of Bali. I wish to visit Bali in the coming years, that’s my dream and wish! I’ve heard a lot about Bali and now you completed this information.
    Dear Lulu, I wish you a Merry Christmas with happiness, peace, love and understanding! Big hugs.

  7. Hi Juergen!
    I hope your dreams come true! and along with my wishes, I hope you also find Bali a nice place to visit someday.
    I do not celebrate Christmas, but thanks for the wishes!
    Wish you all the best as well
    Big hugs back

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