Bali is a paradise, but some things can easily change it into a big nightmare. These are the five things people normally don´t expect or don´t know about when coming to Bali:
1. Men gigolos
The phenomenon of an Asian woman, who can be easily found in the nightclubs seducing Western guys is quite well-known, and I would say, that the Westerners have already figured out a way how to swim in those waters. However, in Bali, there has been a brand-new phenomenon going on. In 2010 the documentary called the Cowboys in Paradise came out. It is showing how easy it is for a muscular, dark-skinned Indonesian men with a longer hair to find a European, Australian or American lady. This is mostly happening in Kuta, where the ´woman looking for fun´ are spending their vacations, however, recently it has widely spread to the other regions such as Jimbaran, Seminyak or Canggu as well.
When I came to Bali, I was staying in a local homestay in Canggu. It was not a very big or fancy place, quite the contrary, it was located in a little gang (street) and ran by a local family. The father´s name was Mario – 27-year-old Balinese, who was constantly running around half naked, and it was so hard to get rid of him once he decided to talk to me. He was a caricature of a Western type of husband. From the very first night he was acting like my best friend, always tried to help me when I needed something (and get some profit out of it at the same time). In the beginning, he was keeping the distance from me and my girlfriends, however, the longer I stayed, the worse it was. When I was going out, I was constantly ´a beautiful princess´ but what made me laugh the most was the moment when he told my friend: ´Oh, you are so beautiful, like Rose! Do you know Titanic??? You are pretty like Rose!´ He did not even care whether his wife was present of not when he was coming to talk to us every single night, telling us stories about ladies (mostly Australian), who come to the hotel, where he works, while constantly asking us if we want to take him out to the party or buy him a beer.
When we became closer friends, Mario told us he has some ´foreign friends´ sending him money, so that he can pay for the kid´s school, however, then he finally came out with the truth. Mario has two girlfriends from Australia and one from Switzerland (who knows how many more, those are only the ones he admitted to have and showed us the pictures!) and then he told us how things work. He meets a woman, take her out, make her feel good and then after having sex with her, he initiates a ´relationship´. The ladies usually pay for the food, accommodation, and clothes for him, what is more, after their holiday is finished and they return home, they all keep sending money to Mario. The only thing he needs to do in return is to be the ´amazing boyfriend´ they desire for two weeks in a year, which appears to be quite a good deal. Looking at his wife doing nothing and just staying at home every single day with the kid (yes, the kid did not go to school yet), while waiting for Mario to come back from ´work´, make him dinner and then sleep in a different room anyways. This is the reality for many families in Bali as they usually live in a very poor condition. However, the wives are used to this kind of relationships because many times it is the only way how to improve their lives.
Well, it is hard to say whether his ´foreign friends´ are also aware of the situation, but one thing is certain. This trend is becoming more and more popular in Bali, and so, dear woman, please be careful about your Indonesian Marios.
2. Local mafia
Local mafia in Bali is not necessarily dangerous, but it can cost you a lot of money if you don´t know how it works. There are posters all around Bali telling you not to use Uber or Go Car, however, during the day it is still possible (if you are lucky enough) to use those services. As soon as the sun goes down, everything is changing. If you try to call Uber, they would reject your ride. This is happening especially in the places with a complete lack of public transport, so you are left to your destiny.
When I went to the party to Single Fin at Uluwatu, we took Uber from Canggu, and it cost us 240.000 IDR (which is around 16 euro). We had no idea how hard and expensive it was going to be to get back to Canggu. We came out of the bar, and there were no taxis, only locals with their cars asking you: ´Transport? Transport?´ We knew they would be expensive and also when you hear this four hundred times after coming out of the club, you just feel like you want to slap them in the face, so we told them that of course, we don´t need transport, we will call Uber, to which they only laughed.
We were trying to get a car for over an hour, but every single Uber and Go Car driver told me he is scared to come to this area because it is very dangerous for him (A local guy is scared to come? Seriously, what about us then?). After that, I saw a group of locals sitting before the entrance to the area and I understood very quickly. One man was sitting in the middle was probably the boss, as he was the one they kept asking about the prices. In the end, we had no other chance than to go home with them for an absolutely crazy amount of money – 500k IDR (this is what you can eat for at Bali for three weeks!!!). Not even talking about the crazy ride. We were listening to Bob Marley and Zara Larsson, driving so fast we thought we were going to throw up while nearly killing about fifteen people on the road (but despite this I have to say that the ride was still more fun than the party at Single Fin). If you do not have to use taxis at Bali, then just don´t, and if you can call Uber, then do. Do not support the local transportation, which is the local mafia taking you to places for three times more than the usual price.
Robberies in Asia are nothing new. It can happen to you anywhere you go, however recently the number of crimes at Bali raised quite significantly. Stealing iPhones from the bags when people are in the clubs is old-style for these guys. They would wait for you to come out from the club and steal your handbag straight from the scooter. It does not matter at all whether you are driving 60km/h or more. The only thing you will remember is a guy on the scooter overtaking you, and the moment you almost fell from the scooter when he grabbed your bag.
As the traffic and road signs are disastrous here, everyone knows that driving without GPS is a nightmare, however, again, this is one of the easiest ways to lose your phone, as they would rip it out even with your headphones.
Stealing stuff from your room (without you even noticing) is also very popular, not even talking about stealing helmets or scooters. The robbers are sometimes so rude that they would enter your room or house while you are inside. In case you run into them there are plenty of excuses to be used, from local sellers to neighbors searching for something in your garden. Even though it looks like Bali is turning into Colombia, where you simply have to be robbed (because everyone does), if you are cautious enough, you can still avoid it. So, no iPhones or expensive bags on sight, not even at home, guys!
When you are at Bali forget about weed or other drugs unless you want to get life imprisonment for smoking one joint on the beach (I am being serious!). This place is really tough when it comes to drugs, even though it is very easy to buy them here. In Kuta, you can buy cocaine, weed or any drug that comes to your mind right on the street, however, be careful because usually there is a policeman standing on the corner and will get you straight away. In that case, no one will even talk to you, and you can enjoy your holidays in Kerobokan prison, which is supposed to be one of the worst prisons in Asia. If you are really keen on getting high, try magic mushrooms. It is the only legal drug that you can also easily buy everywhere on the streets, and you won´t evenfeel that bad afterwards. Moreover, it is very cheap here!!!
When it comes to the locals, it is important to know that it doesn´t matter how good friend you are with locals or how long have you been living in Bali, you will still get the double or triple price for everything. Even if somebody is your ´best friend´, he will always ask 500k IDR if the thing you need cost only 200k IDR. This is something that will never change. Being white simply equals to ´you are a rich tourist´.
Another story is when you are searching for a scooter. As a white person, you would usually get a way higher price than the local person, and trust me, 800k-1 million IDR for a scooter/month is not a standard price (the usual price is 600k IDR. Accommodation? The same thing. You ask about the room that cost 5 million IDR per month. However that does not mean you cannot live there for 2,5-3 million IDR. Unless you see a fixed price in the menu or on a price tag, it is all about bargaining and negotiating, everywhere!
There are also many stories about locals on scooters stopping by and offering you transport. Yes, those guys are nice and polite, but be aware that you can still be driven into a dark little gang and robbed or beaten. So, no matter how nice they look or sound, don´t trust them!
On the other hand, if you would have a scooter accident (which is the case of almost every single person in Bali, me included), they would come to help straight away! When this happens, they usually won´t even ask for money, unless you hit the car – in that case, you should be prepared to pay, but again, remember the word negotiation and never give them the amount you were asked at first.
So, the locals are not always that bad! Especially when they find out you are a student and/or you speak Bahasa Indonesia, their attitude is changing very fast, mostly because they realize you know how things work (and you are harder to get tricked). When I went to the police station to announce my robbery, the policeman was so friendly he even let me write my report by myself. It is like everywhere, there are bad but also good people.
Pictures Source: 9gag.com and personal photogallery