Today a year ago I was happy to leave Bali, Indonesia. It took me so much time to write about it because this was my biggest travel disappointment ever. The island commonly known as paradise turned out to be the epicenter of the fake-ass Instagram world.
I can’t help but conclude that it’s very overrated. Silicon Bali is the hipster nick name for Bali. It’s very ironic they are using the word silicon here, as I associate it with fake tits.
Bali is full of semi hipsters busy shooting their best instas while the island is losing all of its charm because it’s being flooded by tourists. It made me decide to stop using Instagram altogether.
It goes without exaggeration that there are five times too much people on the island. This makes traffic very, very intens. Even more than Bangkok’s. I went from Canggu to Ubud one day, by Grab (the Asian Uber), which is 28 kilometers and it took 4+ hours. All streets are full of traffic jams all day.
🌊🏖🌴🏍👙🌴 Bali on Instagram
🏍🚛🌴🏍🚙🏍 Bali IRL pic.twitter.com/sb8dzVAImM
— (@levelsio) March 12, 2019
After that I absolutely didn’t want to go any further so I didn’t see the whole island (disclaimer). In this article I’m talking about Canggu, which was Nomad List’s number 1 destination for a long time (currently second) and I don’t understand why.
The best way to get around is by motor scooter, but there is a big catch. Your driving license probably isn’t valid in Indonesia, which makes you uninsured. No one seems to care and everybody rents one anyway. You won’t be the first one getting into an accident in this crazy traffic though, ending up paying for the rest of your life (or worse ☠️).
Add the poor road quality, everyone’s driving style (see video) and the fact that there is no ambulance service in Bali and think again if you really want to rent a motor scooter.
So I didn’t want to take this risk and rented a mountain bike instead. I was literally the only one on a bicycle 😅. But this was the only other option, as lots of streets don’t have side walks. So you are walking on the middle of the road waiting to get hit. And there is no public transport either.
I think tourism is digging its own grave on Bali. You only have to compare Google Streetview’s history to see what’s happening there. Some shots of the main roads in Canggu in 2013 and 2018:
- Jalan Raya Semat in 2013 and 2018
- Jalan Pantai Berawa in 2013 and 2018
- Jalan Pantai Batu Bolong in 2013 and 2018
Everything is being stuffed with western entrepreneurs’ buildings to serve western people acting like they are having a great time for their western Instagram friends at home.
If you still want to go though, here are some tips:
- When you arrive at the airport, a huge delegation of intrusive taxi drivers will give you a warm welcome by trying to sell you their services at ridiculous prices. Just walk through until they leave you alone, this takes about 30 minutes, and take a Grab instead.
- Grab is the asian counterpart of Uber. It’s legal in Bali, although the corrupt taxi drivers say it isn’t. You’ll also see signs everywhere stating it’s illegal, hung by those taxi drivers. There is a real taxi war going on, so best is to get in and out of your Grab on quiet places for your own and your driver’s safety.
- To use Grab you’ll need mobile data so you’ll need a local SIM, you can get this before leaving the airport for a fair price.
- To get your Rupiahs, you’ll see lot of ATM’s but most of them are prepared to skim you. Don’t ever use and ATM that’s not attached to a bank. The safest way is to only withdrawal money on an ATM within a bank, so during business hours. The maximum amount you can take out is limited though, so you have to go back quite often (and pay fees each time). Also, block your card the rest of the time because they only accept cash anyway.
- If you’re Dutch, you’ll notice Indonesia has been a Dutch colony, as they still use several Dutch words such as gang, asbak, handdoek and pasfoto.
- The beaches I saw were very dirty, with black mud everywhere. And there is nobody sunbathing actually, so don’t expect this.
- It’s uncomfortably hot on Bali, especially in raining season, because of an incredibly high humidity. Prepare yourself for this and don’t forget to use insect repellant all day.
- Bali is located in the Ring of Fire, a major area in the Pacific Ocean where many earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur, and has failing alarm systems. The safest option is to not stay within a few kilometers from the sea to avoid getting flooded in case of a tsunami.