A Girl Moved to Bali and Reveals Why Real Life Is Nothing Like the Ads Show
Bali is on the bucket list of many travelers and is seemingly a paradise on earth. When you are in this paradise, you can’t help but be amazed by the beauty of its beaches, its flora, and its fauna. But if you really want to understand this place, you have to live here. Veronika got married to a Bali native and saw the island from a totally different angle. Now, she’s decided to reveal a lot about her life in Bali on her blog “Bali Without Photoshop” and on her Instagram page.
We at Bright Side just love Veronika’s blog and we chose the most interesting things about the Bali lifestyle that show it from another side.
People here think I’m incredibly beautiful.
Hi, my name is Veronika and I live in Bali. No, I didn’t come here to surf, to look for the light, or anything like this. Once, I lost my passport while I was traveling in Indonesia. And at the same time, I met my future husband, Ino, who turned out to be a Bali native. We got married and we had a son.
By Bali standards, I’m incredibly attractive. I’m pretty small and I match the Bali standards when it comes to height and weight (even though I’m still a bit taller than the average Bali woman). But the best part is my big, long nose. Everyone here adores it.
At the same time, I’m a terrible housewife by local standards. For example, here you’re supposed to wash the floors every day, wash clothes with a potato peeler and iron everything: bed linens, towels, underwear, all clothing, and even socks. People iron all these things while sitting on the floor. And if the freshly washed clothes don’t smell like flowers, they might think they are dirty and wash them again. This is why it’s important to spritz clothes with some perfume.
Children in Bali are allowed to do anything.
The Bali people adore kids. This is why they are allowed to run around, yell, play with apples in supermarkets, and even break dummies in malls. If a parent tries to fix what their child broke, the employees will just smile and say, “It’s okay.” And not a single muscle on their face will tell you how they really feel.
There are many other unusual things about children in Bali. For example, kids can’t be naked at home because they believe that they might get ill this way. Also, they can’t play in the dirt, sit on the road, or walk around in dirty clothes.
However, Indonesian children are allowed to eat anything. Chocolate, chips, French fries, ice cream, really sweet cold tea, and chicken nuggets. This is not even a full list of what my child had tried by the time he was one year old. And it wasn’t because he took something from someone’s plate, no. His relatives would give these foods to him. What makes things worse is that, in Bali, nobody asks for your permission before giving something to your child. It’s a huge problem for me and there is not much I can do about it.
Bali people eat unripe fruit and don’t keep food in the fridge.
There’s a very interesting fact about Bali cuisine — here, they often use unripe fruit as vegetables. For example, they might add unripe mango to a fruit salad. It’s not really fruit salad, to be honest: they might also add cucumbers, daikon, chili pepper, shrimp paste, and even noodles. They sometimes even add unripe fruit to meat stews.
This is something very common for Bali: you specifically ask a waiter to make a dish that is not spicy and then you spend 15 minutes taking chili pepper pieces out of it. And it’s not about the carelessness of the chef, it’s about how different the peppers can be. Some peppers are not considered spicy for the Bali people, but they are impossible to eat for those who are not used to them.
Also, people in Bali don’t save prepared food in the fridge. What you can find in a fridge are bottles of mineral water, fresh fish, and meat. This is amazing, but fridges are not really used much here.
Indonesians only have 12 days of vacation a year.
There are a lot of people that sell bracelets, glasses, foods, and other stuff in Bali. But they don’t count on tourists. Their clients are the locals. Not every tourist is ready to try some food they don’t know anything about. And a Bali person knows that this is the best tofu in town.
Once, we were on the beach in the evening, and a merchant came up to us with some really bad magnets or some other souvenirs. I didn’t even want to talk, but my husband listened to the guy and bought something without any haggling. He believes that if a person works, we should support them.
An income of $300 per month is normal, and $700 per month is very good. An Indonesian person has 12 days of vacation per year. Paid maternity leave is only 3 months long and women only get the basic allowance, which is about $220 per month.
Employees get 3 extra days off for their wedding. If a close relative dies, people also get 3 days off. If a distant relative dies, they only get one day.
The local customs may surprise you.
I was sure that I knew everything about the Bali culture, but I didn’t. Once, our entire family was on the beach, including my husband’s grandmother. There were a lot of people. All tourists, no locals. My husband asked me to help his grandma get to the ocean. I looked at her and saw... an old lady going for a swim wearing only shorts...
Well, I knew that 40 years ago, everyone in Bali used to walk around topless. And I know that many old women still do that. But it was always far removed from me. I was used to be stared at by Bali people, but this time the entire beach was staring at me and this half-naked Bali old lady.
Not even 50 years ago, everyone from men to women used to walk around naked in Bali. But now, the traditional clothes that Bali women wear to weddings, funerals, and also on Thursdays, is this bright synthetic blouse with lace. They wear on a corset under it. They might add a scarf in a very different color around their waist. They also put on a sarong that they wrap around their waist like a skirt. Of course, this look is also accompanied by very bright makeup.
Some facts about life in Bali may impress even the most experienced travelers.
- Few people know this, but people wear warm clothes when they go outside. It’s because the sun can burn the exposed parts of your body when you’re riding a bike for a long time. This is especially dangerous when you’re in a traffic jam. And when you’re moving, you’re cold because of the wind. So, people might even wear jackets when it’s really hot outside.
- Nails, eyelashes, and other beauty salon procedures are not very popular among Bali women. Maybe, aside from massage. There are massage places here everywhere. The prices start at $3 per hour. And the traditional Bali scrubs are very unusual: they are put onto dry skin and rubbed. All of it is washed off in the shower afterward.
- Once a year in Bali all the sights, cafes, stores, and pharmacies are closed. There are no bikes, taxis, or people outside. Even the international airport is closed and all 350 flights are canceled. This is the day of the silence for the Bali New Year. In 2020, it was on the 25th of March.
The difficulties I’ve had to deal with are the Bali mentality, the patriarchy, and the frequent earthquakes. I especially miss the change of seasons. Who would have thought I would miss the cold November rains?
Few people move to Bali forever. Usually, it’s for 1 or 2 years and only in the winter. Life here is full of rituals and rules, sometimes weird, often funny. And the best thing is that on this island, you can have any lifestyle, preferences, and opinions you want.
What unusual customs or traditions from different countries do you know about? Tell us about them in the comment section below!