~ Tips for first timers to Bali ~

For many of you Bali is like your second home, as soon as you step off the plane and the heaviness of the humidity hits you, the Indo comes rolling off your tongue, your ridiculously relaxed look washes over your face. We tend to forget the first time we arrived and how we were totally overwhelmed by what we all now love. I have thought of a few tips to perhaps prepare you if its your first time:

Airport Porters –  I love these guys and I know everyone else will say steer clear, however they are just trying to make a living so for 10 000 Rupiah for each piece of luggage they will help you get from the conveyer belt to your transport, great if you are lugging around cots, surfboards, prams, kids, etc.

Jam Karet – Bali Rubber Time Things happen when they happen in Bali and you may just have to relax and wait, there is no point getting stressed as this won’t make things happen any faster. There is no point getting angry either, as generally Indonesians do not respond well to confrontation, so try to just go with the flow.Traffic can be slow and this can be due to a car doing a 50 point turn in the middle of the road, a ceremony or cremation procession which has closed off the streets or road works. So try not to leave things to the last minute when traveling around the island especially getting to the airport for flights or a ferry to another island.

Dodginess –  There are a few scams to watch out for: Politely remind the taxi driver to turn his meter on. Only use a Bank to change your money. Don’t enter any competitions and politely walk away and say no thank you if a guy jumps off a scooter offering you the chance to win a big prize (these are a time share sales pitch). At mini marts make sure you see the total cost of your purchases on the computer screen as a few staff have been adding their own tourist tax ontop of your total and hiding the computer screen and the customer is none the wiser.

Respect for the Culture –  Make sure you cover your shoulders and legs with a sarong with a sash around the waist when entering temples. Ladies cannot enter when menstruating. Unless it’s an organized tour or you have been invited, please do not walk into people’s home and temples and start taking photos. Although not a huge deal if accidently kicked or stepped on, the beautiful offerings on the ground are to ward off evil spirits and they contain burning incense, which can burn your skin between your toes.

Be aware of methanol poisoning – If you or a friend becomes extremely unwell after consuming any amount of alcohol particular if it affects your vision; go immediately to the hospital, as methanol poisoning can be lethal. Drugs are rife in Bali and on the surrounding islands, and drug use, possession and trafficking can lead to long jail sentences and even the death penalty. Be aware that many people trying to sell you the drugs are often undercover police trying to lure you in with fake drugs. Magic mushrooms are also readily available, so be cautious of the hallucinogenic effect altering your perception of reality, especially if you overheat or keep taking more when you think there is no effect!

Pick Pockets and Bag Snatchers – Be aware when out at night for thieves on scooters snatching bags from your hand or off your shoulder while you are walking. Perhaps hide your wallet or purse under clothing, also pickpockets, those very pretty girls (who are not actually girls ) and seem so friendly and hands on at the time, will relieve you of your wallet, watch, cash and phone in one sexy cuddle. Also street kids selling leather friendship bands will relieve you of your wallet whilst you are shaking their hand and enjoying their cheeky smiles. Always carry your valuables in your scooter seat and not over your shoulder as bag and camera snatches can occur.

Skimming devices are also very prevalent on ATM machines and in popular restaurants so perhaps take both cash and credit card and when paying by credit card keep your card in sight at all times. ATM machines in Bali tend to give you your cash first then slowly your card with many a traveller walking off leaving their cards behind in the machine.

Please only drink bottled and filtered water as the tap water is not treated and can cause illness. Always have travel insurance as health care is very expensive. If you become very unwell, consider calling the Doctor in straight away so you don’t waste your precious holiday in bed and on the toilet. Wash your hands well and often with soap, particularly after touching money.

Out for a bargain – When doing a bit of shopping on the beach or at the markets only ever enter into bartering or ask the price if you actually intend to purchase the item, as this can be seen as very rude. Petrol prices in Bali have risen significantly this past month so be prepared to pay a little more and keep in mind, people are just trying to make a living not necessarily trying to ‘rip you off’ .

Protect yourself from mosquito bites at all times as Dengue fever is unfortunately rife in Bali. For short term use I would suggest repellent with a high amount of DEET, as well as long clothing and using mosquito nets and room sprays.

Tipping – I am a big fan of tipping, if you get quality service, whether that be a waiter, villa staff, nanny, driver etc please give generously as most employed Indonesians do not earn a large wage and can often be supporting their larger extended family.

Finally, please be very careful when swimming and try not to be intoxicated as there are strong currents in the ocean which have taken many lives, as well as tragic accidents occurring when people are diving into an unfamiliar pool.

Love LMB xxx

Photo Copyright © Kalle Kiander http://www.kiander.se

 

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Shrooming

After watching the peculiar behaviour of a 20 something year old on the beach the other day, I thought I might just touch base on the use and availability of the hallucinogenic ~ magic mushrooms. She spent hours in the heat and sun building a small pile of sand and would repeatedly fill her water bottle in the ocean, return to the pile and gently sprinkle the water over the top. She repeated this over and over for a good part of the day. Each to their own I say, however for the naive tourist getting caught up in the promise of a high a slight word of caution. It is a hallucinogenic and will obscure your senses and view of the world for possibly 6 – 8 hours depending on how much you consume and your metabolism. It can cause nausea, diarrhea and vomiting and can create feelings of panic and anxiety. The feeling may become overwhelming if you are in a extremely crowded or loud environment, and you should definitely not be swimming or riding a scooter if you have consumed a special milkshake. I hear the ‘trip’ will also be intensified if you are very hot. I also hear that drinking cold milk and spending time in air conditioning can bring comfort if your not having fun. I’m a big fan of informed decisions and also harm minimisation. Take care of your mates, go immediately to hospital if you fear poisoning and don’t over consume if your feel it is not working apparently takes up to 1/2 hour to kick in. Parents beware if taking your older kids to Bali those special milk shakes down Poppies lane and all over the island are full of magic mushrooms.