Bali has a bad rep in Aussie land. ‘What happens in Bali’ is a programme that puts the wild tourist animals of Kuta on display for us, erghem, civilised people (joke) to watch. This programme, if you have not seen it, does not paint a good picture of Bali.
We saw many Australians screw their faces up at the idea our trip to Bali, BUT WHY we thought while ignoring their advice. Having already been to Magaluf and Benidorm we decided to research the nice areas of Indonesia and see some real Bali. We found somewhere far away from the airport where we thought most tourists wouldn’t be bothered with the three hour transfer. So we ventured to Bedulu Resort in Amed.
It is a family owned resort hidden high into the mountains. The large family built of husbands and wives, cousins and aunts, sisters and brothers, run the luxurious resort together from the cleaning and cooking to the maintainance and development.
The highlight of the Bali experience was when the manager, and brother to the owner, invited us to celebrate the birth of his other brother’s baby. All family and friends from the small village hidden behind Bedulu resort were invited. We spent a day discussing what gift to give a traditional Hindu family when a baby is born. The manager said that people often put money in a box, but we were perceived to have a lot more money than them and through our ignorance we couldn’t work out what was a ‘normal’ amount that wouldn’t be an insult. The manager had mentioned that he couldn’t afford beer and nor could his friends, so they drank Bali wine that his brothers made from the trees in the garden. We decided to buy a load of Bin Tang beer as a present, which went down super well.
As we climbed up the dirt track through the resort and into the mountains we passed cows with their calves and pigs with their piglets before reaching their community of houses made from breeze blocks and mud floors. The women sat preparing the feast and the men sat in a circle. S
ome men were pinching their noses as they downed the Bali wine and others were laughing and having a bop to Bob Marley who was blasting out of their enormous speakers. As we arrived the manager escorted us to his house and insisted we had a coffee with him before joining the men. We sat outside by the door to his house and the women bought us Bali coffee and home cooked Bali banana bread. A deaf child instructed that I took my shoes off by pulling at my feet and pointing, which the manager laughed at and explained that it is normal to take your shoes off outside when socialising like this.
One chap must have stereotyped us, as people naturally stereotype cultures everywhere, and started yelling in a high pitched voice and acting old and erratic as though that was how he thought white people perceived Indonesians. Obviously, this is not the case, but I don’t know what his experiences of white people are and I can only assume that if he has watched ‘What happens in Bali’, then his experiences and perceptions of white people can’t be good. He won’t have seen this though… but still.
I asked the manager why the women were not sitting with the men drinking and laughing but cooking and staying with their children at the other side of the house instead. He said that it is not a womans place to sit with men and drink as women do not drink and socialise as the men do. It is their place to prepare the food that the men have caught, and thats just how it is – all of the time.
As we didn’t share the same language we couldn’t communicate easily. Rather, we stared and watched each other’s actions and expressions in intrigue. An older man sat next to the manager and us and didn’t speak a word of English, but still he would laugh when we laughed and agree when we were nodding and raise his eye brows when we gasped. One of the boys who shared the Bin Tang out between everyone bought Luis and I cod wrapped in banana leaves cooked on the BBQ on the floor, and pork satay from the pig the manager and his family had slaughtered for the occasion the night before.
Everyone said “don’t eat the fish in Bali”, but I love fish, so what do I do? Eat nothing BUT fish. We had explored Ubud the day before and I had a tuna dish for lunch which I am confident is the culprit – or it could have been the squid, or the pork satay, or the food I brought from a little hut on the street in one of my excited Bali culture moments. After I shit myself copious amounts of times I decided I needed help.
The manager gave me Norits and advised that I swallow around seven, or nine. Norits are small pieces of coal that soak up the toxins and turn your insides black which, apparently, isn’t all they turn black. The ferocity of the poisoning meant I could not eat anymore delicious curry, eat cheap ice cream, drink anything except water or leave the resort at all. I had a good four days though, so who cares if no one else at the back end of the plane can use the toilet during a 5 hour night flight and the stewards tapped on the toilet door every now and again to check I was still alive.
Anyone visiting Bali should stock up on Norits. You should also hire a moped for about 25000 rupees and explore the North and East side of the coast with a camera on record. Have a massage on the beach for £5 and eat somewhere new every night. Don’t stay at the big resorts stay at the smaller ones with the cosy huts overlooking the ocean that have a shower set above a pebbled floor and no glass in the windows, making it pretty much outdoor living. Ignore the weather reports if you go to Amed, too, as we were destined for a storm everyday but consistently had 30 degree heat. We paid £19 per night for our hut and our flight from Perth and back to Adelaide was only £250 each. You really can see this phenomenal island on a budget.