How can you spoil your trip to Bali?
By having expectations, reality knows nothing about. Then, come here only to see what a wasteland it is.
We often expect our vacations to be remarkable.
That the place we choose will be great. Like Bali. You might think it’s a dream destination. But for me, it didn’t present itself as such. Jampacked with tourists, full of trash everywhere, and impossible to walk around.
Still, I came here for two months, and the last thing I wanted was to stay miserable.
You hear a lot about changing your environment. You know, to make it support you. Don’t keep sweets at home if you want to stop eating sweets. But we decided to stay and enjoy every moment. I wanted to stop eating sweets even while having them at home. Even with all the loud motorbikes, annoying street vendors, and dirt, dirt everywhere.
Prepare yourself for my truth about Bali. I won’t lie to you. I was ashamed of how bad this place was and how great people thought my vacation would be.
Yet, here I am, having the time of my life, on the trip of my life, with the love of my life. Here’s how it goes.
What Grinds My Gears
The easiest section I ever wrote.
It would be easier to answer what doesn’t annoy me about this place. But let’s go.
You can’t walk in Bali.
I’ve heard it’s a case in all of Asia. If it’s true, then you did something very wrong, my Asian friends. Walking is a tool to think, talk, and feel where you are. No walking means driving a scooter everywhere.
But if you’re brave enough to walk on the street, then again, you’re screwed.
People here seem incapable of thinking about others on the road. They’ll cut your way, park their scooters in your path, and then smile at you.
And when you finally encounter a sidewalk, those crazy tourists and locals will surely try to run you over. There is no way of walking in peace from one place to another. The only way we found was on the beach in Canggu and Sanur.
Forget about the beaches in Poland, where you can walk through the whole coast.
You can walk for 1 km if you’re lucky. Through a ton of garbage and swarms of vendors with handmade Bali stuff, which you see everywhere, and everywhere, it’s the same.
Don’t get me started on the traffic.
And you must embrace it because there’s no way to walk. No usable public transportation. Taxi? Get ready for taxi scooters because cars can’t move through those tiny, narrow streets.
I’ve observed that people here don’t value time.
Traffic here represents this well. Most situations causing traffic are avoidable by not parking in the street. You could rent a scooter. But I can’t say what’s worse: driving here on a scooter or being stuck in traffic. You’ll see people without helmets driving with kids, whole families even.
Then you see the sand and dirt on the road and immediately conclude that falling down is easy.
No one cares. I’d love to say it’s a calculated risk. My friend told me visiting more places here is easier if you drive a scooter. Agreed. But this pleasure is not worth the risk for me.
Unless you must visit another tourist trap disguised as a temple or a waterfall.
How They Treat Dogs
I couldn’t believe how they treated dogs when we came here.
There are so many of them on the street. You see the spots and wounds on their skin Most are skinny and look sick. When they lie in the way, they get kicked.
It’s like how people in Europe treat waiters. If you see they despise them, you know they’re not worth your time. What to do about people here?
I’ll leave that to you because I’m working this out.
What Bali Has to Offer?
Because people here seem nice. They’re helpful and open, and they smile a lot. At the same time, they pollute the rivers with garbage and treat dogs poorly.
Even their offerings to gods end up as garbage.
Because they leave them out after use, so they rot and get torn apart by animals. Yet none of these religious practitioners think about feeding the nearby dog. So, nature, excluding people.
The problem with nature is that it’s overshadowed by the people.
On one side, locals throw garbage everywhere. On the other, crazy tourists dreaming of another West here. In the middle, there are breathtaking waterfalls and jungle forests. Besides that, coral reefs with regular sightings of trash.
I heard that once a year, there is a big pile of trash coming to the shores of Bali, and locals say it’s a natural phenomenon.
I tell you, breathtaking nature and crazy people.
In all this, the weather is fantastic if you like a hot and wet climate. We’re here in the rainy season, and it’s still great. At least for my girlfriend. I’m melting.
In a month, we saw rain four or five times.
It differs year by year, but still, for some, rain here is better than the sun in Poland when it’s 0 degrees Celsius. The sun’s rays make everything golden, like in movies from Mexico, but with fewer desert vibes.
People obstruct nature in Bali, but they are worth interacting with.
Their openness and kindness are contagious. When we walk down the street and meet eyes with locals, there’s no way they won’t smile. Tourists? They won’t react even to a clear hello while almost walking into you. Maybe I look dangerous.
I’ll miss the locals’ kindness, even if it’s a cultural obligation.
I feel great when I smile. They do, too. When we get home, I want to stay positive towards others.
How I Lied to Myself about Bali With the Help of Influencers
I had high expectations coming here.
It was supposed to be the best trip of my life! The first visit outside of the continent. The first time flying so far. The first time spending winter in a hot place. People were ecstatic when they heard where we were going.
There was one person who said it was a filthy shithole.
That person was right. The influencers shouting from their villas about Bali’s paradise are delusional. Or they don’t want to see the reality behind their paradise.
I don’t know how I could say this is a paradise when I see how dirty it is, how people treat dogs, how many damn street vendors are bugging me every second. While virtually no walking is possible and driving 8km from Canggu to Denpasar takes 90 minutes.
Maybe it is a paradise, and I’m blind.
In that case, decide for yourself what Bali is, and let me know. I’m open to discussion. My goal is not to convince you Bali is not worth visiting because it’s.
It’s just not all sunshine and rainbows.
And if you’re from the West and have yet to visit the East, it can be hard. I’m not used to overcrowded places where I can’t walk freely. Walking is my way of sightseeing.
My mistake was assuming Bali is everything I know, plus more.
But it’s not. It’s different. A lot of things we take for granted are missing here. In return, you get coral reefs, tasty food, scuba diving, and tropical island vibes.
Somehow, people who call this place paradise sit in air-conditioned villas with dozens of people catering to their needs.
Leave Expectations and Enjoy The Experience
I could never learn so much about myself and Asians without Bali.
Expecting unknown things to be like the ones I know is a recipe for misery. Sure, it’s better to sit outside without sweating. It’s easier to have 2 screens, a comfortable chair, and a coffee maker in a clean kitchen. But none of these is required for me to push my life forward by writing and coding.
Having expectations is like filtering what you see.
It serves as a threshold below which nothing satisfies you. But many things can’t get above the threshold and are still magnificent. I couldn’t notice them because of my preconceptions.
When I expected fewer tourists, I got sad when there were many.
I was devastated. We traveled 11000 km only to finish in another Sopot (a place for shirtless guys and bikini girls in Poland). But I was wrong. It wasn’t the place that was the problem. It was me. Everywhere there is something.
The world is potential, and how you use it is up to you.
Is it better to be right and suffer or to accept how things are and enjoy what you can? Thanks to the decision to stay here for 2 months before coming, I had no easy way to return home. Because rebooking tickets is costly. So I realized it’s okay here if I don’t want to spend money on changing the tickets.
Complaining changes nothing.
That doesn’t mean I won’t complain. In fact, this whole article is, in a way, a complaint. It started as a complaint about Bali but transformed into a complaint about my perception of Bali.
When I started leaving my expectations behind, the small things Bali surprised me with came into the spotlight.
There are countless of them. Starting from the ever-smiling locals to the world-class steak I ate in an Italian Restaurant. The only way to experience them is to leave expectations behind.
Tropical paradise or not, I can have a great time here.
No place on Earth is a paradise.
Because paradise is not a place. It’s a state of mind. A walled garden (paradise) is built inside your head by exposing yourself to the unknown but with the help of what you know. In a symbiotic relationship between chaos and order, you explore the world, ready to discover its diversity, including cultures different from yours.
Bali can help you build your walled garden.
Because it strips you of expectations about being more than you know in every way. It’s familiar enough to move around but novel enough to trigger learning. You can get insights that are impossible to get while staying home in a safe way, as there were many people before you. Experiencing something new but tested by others is a way to expose yourself to the unknown step by step.
How to get the most out of Bali?
Leave expectations behind. Get ready to experience things you never experienced. Hop on a scooter and pray for your life. Or do what you’re supposed to do under the sun with people delivering everything to you with smiles. Write, code, read books, and end your day watching the sunset with thousands of Instagrammers streaming it worldwide.
What a thing to experience. Another sunset (of human thought).
If you get the last part, let’s talk.