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Traveling to Bali - A Journey You'll Never Forget

Updated on December 18, 2014

A Love Affair With Bali

I'm an avid traveler. An ordinary person from a small town who loves seeing the world. My videos and photos are not professional, they're simply a reflection of the joy and wonder I experience while traveling.

One of the things I love doing the most is to travel with groups of people to Bali to witness the unique form of the Hindu faith practiced on the beautiful Islands of the Gods. On these trips, the travelers engage in daily spiritual practice, yoga as well as visit incredible land marks and famous temples. I hope you'll find something here that will contribute to your falling in love with Bali.

Can I Take That Picture?

Traveler’s etiquette

Another great question came in from one of our travelers:

"Are there any general sort of 'rules' about photographing in Bali? Inside, outside temples, other places? How to the people feel about being photographed themselves?"

Yes indeed, there are general rules and most of them are pretty much based one plain ordinary mindfulness, or good manners, as my grandmother would say.

If you’re going to take someone’s photograph, ask their permission. If something is clearly personal and private, do not intrude with your camera to take a photograph. When in doubt (in a temple for example) ask the guides if it is permitted to take a photograph. Do not step in front of a ceremonial procession and face the leader or priest head on to take a photograph. Ask, ask, ask. The guides will happily inform you of the etiquette and do’s and don’ts’.

Some behaviors, perfectly acceptable at home, may not be acceptable in Bali. For example, never point the soles of your bare feet (or even when you have shoes on) towards the altar in a temple, or indeed toward anyone. Never pat anyone on the head, or rub their head affectionately. Do not climb onto statues, altars, ruins or such to pose for a photograph. Do not make lewd, humorous, mocking poses around statues, altars, temples and such.

But enough of the don’ts – how about the do’s? Do have a good time. Do follow your intuition. Do trust your mindfulness. Do go as an ambassador of peace and good will – and you will be sure to have an extraordinary time.

Pilgrammage to Bali - Friends from Santa Rosa

Click thumbnail to view full-size
The gang arriving after a very long flight, happy smiles a product of disoriented internal clocks I'm sure.  We try to listen to the guide's orientation but tiredness, and the accent, well... we'll try again in the morning.First day meditation on the ocean - but first a group photo, right?John Baliman, or Ketut, takes our photo as we take his.From the Baliaga culture, with tea lights, at night make a magical atmosphere on the grounds of the Bali Hyatt in Sanur.Bali Hyatt gardens are to be enjoyed slowly.Bat Cave Temple - Gua LawahThe Priest begins instructing us on how to perform the ceremonial prayersThe sincerity of our groups' devotional practice catches the attention of the temple authority and we developed a strong bond of mutual respectWashing the head with holy water.  Hint: don't drink it.
The gang arriving after a very long flight, happy smiles a product of disoriented internal clocks I'm sure.  We try to listen to the guide's orientation but tiredness, and the accent, well... we'll try again in the morning.
The gang arriving after a very long flight, happy smiles a product of disoriented internal clocks I'm sure. We try to listen to the guide's orientation but tiredness, and the accent, well... we'll try again in the morning.
First day meditation on the ocean - but first a group photo, right?
First day meditation on the ocean - but first a group photo, right?
John Baliman, or Ketut, takes our photo as we take his.
John Baliman, or Ketut, takes our photo as we take his.
From the Baliaga culture, with tea lights, at night make a magical atmosphere on the grounds of the Bali Hyatt in Sanur.
From the Baliaga culture, with tea lights, at night make a magical atmosphere on the grounds of the Bali Hyatt in Sanur.
Bali Hyatt gardens are to be enjoyed slowly.
Bali Hyatt gardens are to be enjoyed slowly.
Bat Cave Temple - Gua Lawah
Bat Cave Temple - Gua Lawah
The Priest begins instructing us on how to perform the ceremonial prayers
The Priest begins instructing us on how to perform the ceremonial prayers
The sincerity of our groups' devotional practice catches the attention of the temple authority and we developed a strong bond of mutual respect
The sincerity of our groups' devotional practice catches the attention of the temple authority and we developed a strong bond of mutual respect
Washing the head with holy water.  Hint: don't drink it.
Washing the head with holy water. Hint: don't drink it.

Bali on Amazon

Reading up on Bali is easy because there is no shortage of travel guides written on this amazing island. It's worth reading up before you go, because it is difficult to take it all in and figure out what to do without preparation or a contact there who knows their way around.

Snacks and Customs and Granola

Questions:

"If you have a moment would you please advise on whether it's still ok to pack commercially-wrapped energy/granola bars in one's check-in luggage. It used to acceptable in Asia, and I do like a snack when traveling. Thank you."

My Answer:

You can take snacks with you on the flight in your check-in. You just have to be sure that you consume everything on the flight if it cannot be taken into the country you are visiting.

Generally if the energy bar or granola bar is contained in a commercial wrapping, like foil or plastic, it may be ok to take into Indonesia. Of course, things change all the time, but so far I have not had trouble with wrapped energy bars. You probably shouldn't take loose items, like nuts, fruits, etc. Also, sometimes people have difficulty with food items in cardboard boxes. My advice, pack your snacks lightly enough to consume on board the flight.

To Tip Or Not To Tip

One question that travelers frequently ask when visiting a foreign country is "Do I tip and if so, do I tip the same way I tip in the USA?"

This is a good question because different cultures have different tipping practices and some hotels ask visitors specifically to not tip. Each destination is different, and the only consistent element is you! This is important to keep in mind because a tip is entirely up to you and no matter what the convention, you will be guided by your own experience of the service you have received.

In Bali, it is a good idea to have a stack of $1 bills for tipping porters and waiters. You can plan to have the equivalent in Rupiah available so that you can tip porters $1 per bag they handle for you. Typically the dinners that are included in the tour require no tipping because the tips are built into the price charged to the tour company.

When you are eating out by yourself or in the restaurant, you may notice a service fee is sometimes added to the bill. This is understood to be the tip going to the wait staff, however, since I'm not certain that the service fee goes to the person who serves me, I usually at 5-10% in cash directly to the person.

For drivers and tour guides, to make things easier, we will collect a group trip at the end of our time together. So you do not have to tip your tour guides and drivers until the end of the journey. For drivers I suggest between $1-2 per day and for tour guides I suggest between $3-5 per day. We will be using their services for 10 days so my estimate is that if you have between $50-100 set aside for tips, you'll be well prepared to have express your gratitude through tips in Bali.

Tirtagangga - Water from the Ganges

A beautiful day trip to the water palace built by a Raja in 1946 is a must do in Bali. Tirta Gangga's palace, pools, fountains and gardens filled with statues will keep you busy with camera, swimming, or simply resting in the magnificent surroundings.

Take your swim suit, you can bathe in the waters for a small charge, and you don't really need a guide for this experience. In the photo here you can see the stepping stones that trace through one of the ponds for a walking on water meditation not to be forgotten.

Candi Dasa - Chill out, relax and sigh

About an hour away an accessible by bus this quiet seaside town is perfect place to do nothing in spectacular surroundings. Although the beach has eroded from over harvesting of lime from the reefs, attempts at reconstruction are in progress and snorkeling a short boat ride away is amazing.

Sounds of Bali in the Morning - From the Sanur Hyatt

First day in Bali internal clocks are all upside-down, expect to wake up at unpredictable times if you're traveling from the other side of the world as I did. Sitting on the balcony in the morning listing to Bali is one of my favorite things to do.

Rama Ocean View Hotel - Candi Dasa

One of the things I love about staying at the Rama Ocean View hotel is the impromptu events the staff puts together now and then, like this dance performance. I grabbed by iPhone to record what I could from the hotel restaurant and forgot to turn the thing sideways for a better video.

On The Road from Ubud - On the way to our bicycle tour

One of the fun things to do in Bali is go on a bicycle tour. Surrounding Ubud there are dozens of roads, rice fields and sites that can be taken in either on your own or facilitated by a bike tour company. I grabbed this video of the ride up the mountain where we started the tour. That appealed to me, a bike tour that is all down hill! Yeah! And we stopped on the way to visit the coffee company and sample the famous, most expensive coffee in the world. Urgh. More about that later.

Do you have suggestions for visiting Bali?

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