Hi everyone… I’m baaaaaaack!
I have to say I missed my daily blogging related activity fix! Whilst I don’t post daily, I’m usually spending a bit of time thinking about post ideas, taking and editing photos, and/or interacting with y’all on Twitter and so on every day! I suppose, like any activity, it’s good to have a break now and again. I certainly feel more refreshed!
Mr R and I took a break in Bali, Indonesia. I will write about my experiences and share some pics, as people have been keen to read about and see this. BUT, before I do that, I need to get some stuff off my chest.
Usually we do a lot of research before travelling anywhere, but due to how hectic things were for both of us prior to this trip we pretty much winged it. This was a big mistake.
If I had done my research, I probably wouldn’t have chosen Bali as a holiday destination.
Why? As was obvious when in Bali, to the point of it being very uncomfortable at times:
Bali is a destination that focuses on Western tourists seeking a “cheap holiday” and wanting to only do Western things, to Bali’s detriment.
Of course, Bali is not the only place that does such things, particularly focusing upon providing “cheap” holidays, but it does this to a level way beyond anything I have seen in other South East Asian countries such as Cambodia. I often felt that I was on a part of Australia that had somehow been washed up on Indonesia, surrounded by booze, yobbos and bogans (these are Australian slang terms – sorry guys I’ll have to leave explanation of those to Google as I lost an entire draft of this post due to stupid Windows Update a moment ago!!!), surfers (I have nothing against surfers!), and sun lizards (people who insist on sunbaking – and have the horrible skin to show for it – despite all the evidence out there about how bad it is for you). However, unlike Australia, most locals are living in (clearly visible) third world conditions and almost every man woman and child tourist is sporting a Bintang (local beer) shirt. (I’ll admit that Mr R and I bought some Bintang shirts as souvenirs, but we didn’t wear them in Bali!) I even saw boomerangs (a tool developed by the Australian Aboriginal people for hunting) for sale?!
Bali is the ultimate loser in this situation. Why?
- By focusing predominantly on the “cheap” tourism market, you limit opportunity to expand and charge more for your services over time, as the majority of your market will no longer be interested.
- It reinforces the currently poor wages and standard of living for most Balinese (and Indonesians in general, as many come from all over the country to try their luck in Bali).
- It limits opportunities for cultural exchange because it is hard for tourists to find opportunities to engage in activities more relevant to and illustrative of local culture when in Bali (we kept being asked if we wanted to learn to surf, to have a foot massage, or to ride an elephant – elephants are NOT native to Bali and we rode them already in Laos).
- Tourists interested in the cultural stuff are generally more likely to be willing to pay a fairer price for things (i.e. closer to what things cost in their home country) as they are interested in the experience the country can provide, rather than how much money they can save on their usual activities (as what I saw was what many Australian people do at home anyway!). The current situation in Bali is likely to deter tourists who are more likely to be willing to pay a fair price for things!
Given all of this, what can everyday people such as ourselves do in this situation? I don’t think there is such as a thing as “Fair Travel” (like “Fair Trade”) yet, but:
- Research options for activities prior to travelling to Bali. Give the people providing culturally relevant activities some business! This will encourage, over time, a greater focus on such things and provide a better balance of activities on the “menu” Bali currently provides.
- Lend support to Balinese charities and NGOs, if you can. For example, Carry for Kids does great work!
- Don’t haggle the hell out of everything! Like many places in South East Asia, prices are negotiable (and are always two tiered – locals vs tourists). Haggle but go for what you think is a fair rather than stingy price. Don’t engage in haggling if you’re not willing to actually buy the item/s you’re haggling for.
- Treat the local people with respect. The Balinese are some of the friendliest people you will meet in South East Asia.
A smile and a few friendly words cost you nothing – and helps them learn English (which many are so keen to do to improve their employment prospects)! If you can learn some local expressions before your trip this will also be of help.
Phew! /end rant
You might notice that I have said “Bali Part 1″ at the top of this post – I plan to write another post about Bali focusing on what I actually did whilst there including the local beauty products that I hauled! In fact, this post kicks off a new post series for a beautiful story which will be focusing on my travel experiences and tips for the various places I’ve visited! Posts on this will appear roughly every 2 weeks as I have so many photos to go through!
I am really interested to hear what people think about this post. Do you agree? Disagree? Feel offended? Please be aware that I am writing about my experiences based on only 1 visit to Bali AND I am not saying that I believe all Australians who go to Bali are yobbos or bogans. Did you know that a large proportion of tourists, and most of the foreign business owners in Bali, are actually French or Italian?!
Also, I am really keen to hear from those who have been to Bali and have been able to do a lot of culture related things there. What did you do/where did you go? I should’ve asked for tips BEFORE my trip, right?!
*Featured image credit: http://photographyindonesia.wordpress.com/