Bali Diaries 4: Is Bali Worth The Hype? An Honest Indian’s Perspective

Hello, welcome back to my blog. I hope you all have been following my Bali Diaries series on the blog.

Till now, I have written all about the wonderful places and the things I have liked about Bali.

I have mentioned which all places to visit in Bali and given an insight and overview of each place to you. It indeed is a unique place and I am going to cherish all the beautiful moments I have had in Bali. From lush green rice terraces to the mesmerizing beaches and cultural and picturesque temples, it indeed has tons of things which are worth seeing.

In case you have missed the previous parts, have a look-

Bali Diaries 1

Bali Diaries 2

Bali Diaries 3

However, just like any other city or island, Bali isn’t perfect. It has it’s pros and cons. In the Final Part of the series I will be talking about a few experiences we had in Bali which made it a mixed experience and I found certain things not so likeable during my stay in Bali. I would like to give an insight about the lesser known and not so good things about Bali as well.

  • Place & People.

The roads in Ubud are quite narrow, foothpaths are not well maintained and one can trip while walking. We did meet good people in Bali, like the people who hosted our stay in the hotels or the good driver who drove us while touring, but in general, the hospitality of the people in Bali seems to be very forced. They couldn’t care less about you unless you pay money. The only thing they care about is money and how to extract this from you. I agree tourism is their livelihood, but I found Thailand (Krabi) to be more warm and hospitable.

Ubud Market

They also quote very high prices for selling anything and expect people to waste a lot of time in bargaining. Of course we Indians are the experts when it comes to bargaining 😀 , but nobody in India will quote 10-20 times the price of their product. They know the value of what they are selling and ask for a bit more, which one can baragain reasonably with. This is not the case in Bali. The ubud market is entirely overrated and we found only one fella who was nice enough and and quoted good prices to us and did not waste a lot of time of ours in bargaining. The people in Bali don’t have a good business sense when it comes to treating their customers right and selling their products aptly.

  • 2. Costs and Culture

Is Bali really as cheap as they make it out to be? I think it’s a matter of perspective for everyone, but I would say both, yes and no.

It depends. If you are wise enough to eat at ‘Warungs’ which are traditional what we call in India- ‘dhabas’ (small restaurant or cafe) where the food is reasonably priced you save money.

If you book your lodgings and stay at reasonably priced hotels/villas, you will save money.

But like I mentioned above, I found this extraction of money from tourists a tad irritating.

Even the beaches you visit, most of them have an entrance fee, which irked us. Also, some of the free beaches like Nusa Dua have built private resorts, so the access of the beach to general public is limited and small. I have never in my life paid to ‘enter’ a beach, so it was weird. Of course the beaches are very beautiful and picturesque. But they aren’t as well maintained as they should be. There are no public toilets available, despite the cost.

Beautiful view @ Pandawa Beach (Yes we paid to enter this beach)

Every temple you visit in Bali has an entrance fee. When it comes to temples, the worst part is that they will not allow you inside the interiors of the temple and one has to admire the view from outside. Undoubtedly the view is beautiful, but we were disappointed to know we couldn’t enter the interior of the temple. How can one know more about Balinese culture if they do this?

The Hindu culture of Bali is inspired by Indian Hindu culture, Buddhist and Chinese culture with an Indonesian touch which is great and totally different from the rest of the world. The only problem is the culture lacks depth and soul. It all looks amazing from the outside, but it seems quite shallow and incomplete from the inside.

As an Indian, I can proudly say there are a large number of amazing temples in India which are much more beautiful and culturally richer than Balinese Temples. Also, the donation of money in these temples is optional and entry is free for all.

Overall, I would say Bali could make more efforts in perserving their culture and giving a ‘value for money’ feeling to tourists who pay.

  • 3. Food

I heard a lot about Ubud being the cultural hub and heard that there are lots of vegetarian and vegan options. My husband is a lacto vegetarian (no fish or eggs) and I am too, currently tansitioning towards being a vegan because dairy doesn’t suit my gut very well. Anyway, so naturally we were excited to checkout the food in Bali.

In Bali, it is quite convenient to eat at ‘Warungs’ like I mentioned above. The food is cheaper, yet healthier. Upon reaching Bali, we found out that very few warungs in Ubud were actually vegetarian or vegan. Of course many warungs offered or served vegetarian dishes but the options are limited. We infact ate a lot more variety of food at Krabi in Thailand which isn’t supposed to be a veg friendly place, yet the people over there managed to make some great dishes for us. 🙂

So yes, not a lot of variety in the reasonable range for vegans and vegetarians like us. The standard cuisine of ‘Nasi Goreng’, ‘Mi Goreng’ etc are of course available but that’s about it.

Of course there are a few places I would like to recommend.

I would recommend warung Sun Sun for it’s great quality of food. It’s not a vegetarian warung but the limited dishes that they do serve are of great quality and good taste.

Another place I would recommend is- Sawobali The Daily Buffet. It’s like hitting the jackpot for vegans because there is a daily buffet over there which is vegan and gluten free.

Yummy Vegan
& Gluten-free buffet @ Sawobali

I also absolutely loved ‘Acai Queen’ in Ubud, which serves amazing Acai bowls. Super delicious, healthy and just a must have in Bali. It’s a small place but the decor is quite cute as well.

Yummy Acai Bowl at Acai Queen

There are few fancy restaurants where you will get vegan or vegetarian food. I will say ‘few’ again since I was expecting a lot more vegetarian and vegan friendly options in Bali. Also, these fancy restaurants are overpriced and not at all convenient for budget travelers.

So food options for vegans and vegetarians although definitely present in Bali, are limited. I was disappointed maybe because I really had high expectations on this one.

It’s just my take, but feel free to do your research and if you do find out many options, let me know!

  • 4. Transport, Taxis and Getting around

Like I mentioned in my previous articles about Bali, you can either explore Bali by booking a private cab/driver or book a tour.

If you want to explore Ubud or other places around Bali, usually a scooter is the most popular mode of transport.

We hired a scooter and regretted it a lot later. Why? Because roads in Ubud are very narrow and most tourists who come there don’t know how to drive.

Also, due to the narrow roads, I hit my left foot while I was riding pillion and my left second toe was hurt badly. (It’s recovered 99% now. All fine)

So much so that we had to get an X-ray done to rule out any fractures or breaks in the bone. (There weren’t any, thankfully)

Now here comes the best part-

We booked a taxi via Uber to go to the hospital (since it is the only one place in Ubud has a X-ray machine).

While I was in pain and waiting for the Uber, the private taxi drivers started badgering us to use their service.

Not just that, as soon as our Uber driver arrived, they went to him and threatened him. Fearing their wrath, he simply drove away.

We had thus no choice except to ride via their private cab and this fellow charged us almost thrice the money for that short distance.

So yes, there is taxi mafia in Bali. They sit on roads and badger you to book their services, which is okay considering it is their livelihood, but threatening an Uber driver and shooing him away is not okay. It is scary. So I would warn you all to be careful with the local drivers in Bali.

Thus, these were my few unwanted experiences and observations about Bali.

I am not trying to put anyone off or hurt any feelings or dissuade people from going to Bali.

It is a beautiful place to visit.

But, It is definitely over-hyped by a lot of people who paint a very rosy picture of Bali.

If one visits Bali with realistic expectations and keeps in mind it’s pluses and minuses both, it is most assuredly a great place to travel to and enjoy a vacation.

Thus, my Bali diaries has concluded. 🙂 🙂 I have tried my best to give you an honest outlook of Bali including the places to visit there as well as what I enjoyed and what I did not. I hope this helps people to decide and choose and get an insight about Bali.

Keep a lookout for new posts coming out soon.

Till the next post,

Dream. Imagine. Be Crazy. Be You.

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