Getting the Hell out of Bali

I am sick of Bali.

To be more precise, I’m sick of every single person I encounter while walking down the street harassing me to buy their shit. I literally can’t go 10 seconds without someone trying to get me to take a taxi, get a massage, buy their cheap crap, eat in their restaurant or rent their motorbike.

I’ve experienced this sort of thing before in Manila and Hong Kong, but never anything close to the degree which I’ve experienced it in Bali. In Java, at worst, someone would come up to me and want to practice English. They’d talk, ask about the Presidential elections and just chat. Here, you are a walking dollar sign. It has made my experience in Bali less and less enjoyable the longer I’ve had to stay.

I’m staying in Kuta which is sort of the tourist area, but the thing is, it is actually worse as you go into the island. When I took my day tour, I actually had about six women pushing and rushing up to my car door to sell me crap when our car pulled in to park.

it isn’t just that they try to sell you stuff. I actually understand that and get it. It is part of the territory when you visit a place like Bali. However, when they stick t-shirts and postcards in your face, they literally stick it in your face and will not back away when you say “no”, as if they were trying to find new ways to make sure you didn’t buy anything from them.

If you should make the mistake of buying something when you are on the beach, you will be mobbed by people who saw you buy something. They must think that anyone who will buy one thing will buy an infinite number of things. Again, it is as if they they want to make sure you never by anything by making the experience as unpleasant as possible.

I have also been highly annoyed because it has been so difficult to get a ticket to Dili, East Timor.

I first stopped at local places that had “Airline Tickets” on a sign out front. The first three places didn’t do international tickets. I eventually found one that only took cash and didn’t have a computer. Their “reservation system” consisted of calling some guy. When they called their “guy”, he kept quoting me different prices for a one way ticket to Dili based on how long I was staying. It made no sense.

There is one and only one airline which flies from Bali to Dili and their website doesn’t do online reservations.

I eventually just asked the front desk at the place I was staying where a real travel agency was. They made a call to their “guy” and worked it out, but to pay with a credit card, they had to send a courier over to get a photocopy of my credit card. There is no way in hell I’m going to make a photocopy of my credit card and give it to some “guy”. I eventually had to get a ride to the travel agency to take care of it in person.

East Timor has to be one of the hardest to reach countries in the world, which is especially odd considering it is just north of Australia and connected to a large country like Indonesia. There is also one and only one airline which flies to Australia and that flies into Darwin. The flights from Bali and Darwin are the only flights which service the entire country of East Timor.

My flight to Darwin was easy to book as was my flight from Darwin to Melbourne. The Darwin to Melbourne leg is by far the longest, but also the cheapest. Competition will do that.

I have to kill 12 hours in Darwin because my flight to Melbourne leaves at 12:30am Tuesday morning. I hope they have lockers at the Darwin airport.

I think I’m also becoming frustrated because I’ve been sort of mentally looking forward to taking time off in Melbourne and taking care of business. It is odd that when you take a vacation from vacation, you end up working and doing stuff. It really is an anti-vacation. Everything which is delaying that is making me frustrated and pissing me off.

Yesterday I did something I’ve never done before. I visited a spa. The area around my hotel has a lot of spas which are really cheap. You can get a massage, facial, body scrub, and a pedicure for $15. That’s about 2 hours of time. There is really very little overhead and labor is cheap, so you see a lot of spas around Bali. It was quite nice, especially considering I didn’t have to pay much for it.

I’ve heard spotty things about the Internet in East Timor, so I have no idea how often I’ll be able to log on. I’m sure I’ll manage at least one post, but don’t expect too much the next few days.

  • 12 Comments... What's your take?

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Comments

  1. TJ says:

    Hi, I’ve just found this blog via http://www.nomad4ever.com and I have to say you’re doing a great job. I’m a bit disappointed about your Bali comments though… I’ve been visiting Bali since 1989 when I spent a month there on a RTW trip, and have been back nearly every year since. There must be a skill in dealing with the sellers, as for me they just fade into the background and always back off when I show I’m not interested. Perhaps a combination of having learnt a bit of the language, plus looking completely disinterested (i.e. generally ignoring them) does the trick. In fact, I’ll be moving to Bali in a couple of months as it is simply the best and most relaxing place I’ve come across in many years of travelling the world.

    Anyway, each to his own, I guess!

  2. Jeff Makeiff says:

    Hi Gary,

    I am the Terminal manager here at the Darwin International Airport…Google alerts comes in handy sometimes!

    Depending on what Tuesday you will be here at the DIA there may or may not be lockers available…the installer is actually going to be here (Feb 11th) to inspect the install and then complete the work later this week. If you are here this Tuesday (12th) the lockers will unfortunately not be available yet.

    I hope you have enjoyed Dili and your time through Darwin is an enjoyable one.

    Best regards,

    Jeff

  3. HB says:

    I hope someday we can all be as enlightened as Sam. I mean, even though Gary has a well-studied background in economics of 3rd world countries, he hasn’t incorporated that knowledge into the fiber of his every being and every nuance of his travels. If he were a true traveler of the world, he would bathe himself in the pure existence of humanity and never have a bad day or be annoyed by anything he encounters. Is he not tapped in to the Soul of the World, man? I mean, where does he get off telling us any details of this trip that aren’t completely objective or glowingly positive. I want lists. I want lists of facts and nothing about the experience or opinions of the person taking this journey. Seriously, a one man trip around the world should be dictated by my rules and preferences. Don’t you agree? So, yeah. Just go home and stop giving us the sights and sounds and smells of far off places we may never see. Sharing is overrated, and it might just make people jealous and sad. I read your blog and it really makes me want to travel and see the world for myself…and that’s just wrong.
    :)

  4. Nicole says:

    I meant grin at Tom – I shouldn’t write at 5 a.m. without coffee first ;)

  5. Nicole says:

    Grin @ Sam.

    That Troll reply was bugging me yesterday for quite a while, but I got burned so many times for chiming in that I stayed quiet.

    I just want to say thanks for your statement, I couldn’t have said it any better!
    :)

  6. Mike R. says:

    You need to get an Asian Girlfriend while traveling in Asia. Seriously. If you have an Asian GF with you, the touts don’t really bother you as much.

  7. I shouldn't feed the trolls but... says:

    To Sam (a.k.a the TROLL):

    You, sir, are an IDIOT.

    Did you even read his post properly? Do you even read the blog? Obviously not enough to realise that he’s not even from Australia. Obviously not enough to pick up that his reasons for traveling are far from relaxing in resorts and day spas. OR that this blogger has spent plenty of time in other parts of the world extolling the positives of every place for the most part, and trying to soak up culture and different people as much as possible.
    If you must flame, at least flame INTELLIGENTLY and read the damn post first. Damn brainless troll. (And learn to spell properly).

  8. Sam says:

    Maybe you should never leave the comforts of the western world and your cushy life here in Australia. People like you annoy the crap out of me. DON”T TRAVEL TO 3rd WORLD IF YOU EXPECT IT TO BE LIKE HOME. What would you do to feed your family if they were hungry and you were poor? My advise to you is if you don’t like the way they do things in other countries don’t leave Australia mate. The Balinese are beautiful people and unfortunately have been taken over by the west. If you want to see the true Bali maybe you should have looked beyond your cushy resort in Kuta and taken a trip away from the day spa to discover it properly. It is still there you just have to look further than the resorts and day spa’s! You’re a looser and a complainer, get a life. You are the kind I person who will never enjoy a holiday because you are too busy complaining about the negatives! Go back to paying slave labour for your massages (does that make you feel good about yourself).

  9. Nicole says:

    I feel your pain!
    Don’t ever go to any Kuwaiti market.
    They shove everything in your face, no matter if it’s phones, watches, perfume or meat and veggies….
    Depending on my mood I want to strangle everyone of them ;)

    The travel agency thing is a *shake my head* story again.
    You really wonder how places survive with these kind of crookedness.

    Spas are great!
    Pretty expensive here though, despite the cheap labor :S

    Take care out there!

  10. Gary says:

    Inland it was worse. At least at the tourist attractions. They’d stick stuff right in your face. I think the fact it was the low season had something to do with it. Few tourists and the vendors were desperate.

  11. Carrie says:

    We had the same problem when we were in Kuta. It’s really too bad it’s so touristy these days. It wasn’t like that before. Unfortunately, Kuta has become extremely Westernized over the past ten years. It’s really sad because you don’t actually get to experience the real “Bali” anymore. The culture has been stripped away and replaced with Australian burger joints, Western nightclubs and gigantic resort conglomerates. We were there in 2006 and couldn’t walk more than a few feet without having someone bother us.

    Did you travel inland a bit? We didn’t have any problems once we left Kuta and the Jimbaran area. Ubud is lovely. We loved our time there. Sanur is quite nice too.

    I’m sad to hear that things haven’t changed and that you’re having a rough time. Let’s hope East Timor treats you better! Happy traveling!

  12. Kind of sounds like outright harassment to me. Love the photos you post.

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About Gary Arndt

My name is Gary Arndt. In March 2007 I set out to travel around the world...
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