Bust A Move are posts focused on what Tyler and Megan are thinking and learning before, during and after their move to another country.
Upon arrival in Bali, I was unknowingly given a tribal name. That new name is “Hey, Lady.” It’s usually followed by one of the following last names: “Have a look”, “Sarong”, “Massage”, “You like?” or my personal favorite and most ambiguous…”what you looking for.”
Tyler’s name seems to have been changed to, “Boss.” Boss, is usually followed by comments such as “Taxi?" "Guide?” or the one he gets the most..."Nice tattoo! Need more?" Our response is always, "no thank you", which is quickly followed up with “But maybe tomorrow?”
The best way to handle the constant soliciting is to learn a few phrases in Bahasa—the local dialect. The Balinese immediately stop trying to push their product on you, and instead smile and laugh because this "bule" (basically translates to red-headed foreigner) said something in their language.
I panicked last minute and threw in a few extra pairs of shoes into my bag. I have a ridiculous 8 pairs total, but I only wear my two favorites on a consistent basis.
The first are my Keens. I was hesitant to buy these because I was quick to place these types of sandals in the “dork traveler” category—often worn with socks along with fanny packs and cargo shorts. But after just a few weeks in these, I have seen the light! Dork traveler be damned! I’ve walked over 75 miles in these shoes already and have yet to have a blister. And honestly, they're pretty attractive for how functional they are. I’ve already fallen into rice paddies, waterfalls, mud banks, random gravel mounds and sidewalk holes, and after a quick rinse...they’re still looking good.
Plus, here's something I'm sure they didn't test for at Keen headquarters...a scooter rammed against ours at about 20mph, sandwiching my left foot in the process. However, the protective toe lived up to its name, and I ended up not feeling a thing...all 10 piggies still intact!
My second go-to shoes are my sliders. These come in handy in Bali where you take your shoes off to enter stores, before entering a room and sometimes even before going into a restaurant.
Jalan Jalan translates to "walking walking." It's what we tell all the drivers we're doing as they constantly ask if we want a ride from the side of the road—and they always get a kick out of it. But for real, if you walk down a tourist street here you will be asked if you want a taxi no less than 15 times...and for good reason, I guess.
When I left my job to travel, I set a goal to walk a minimum of 10k steps a day—a number I rarely hit while working my desk job. I have been determined to stick to this goal, which means sometimes I am going on long walks after sunset to hit that number. It’s not easy being a walker in Bali. The Balinese can't imagine why you'd want to walk because walking here is basically an accident waiting to happen.
Basically, if you're ever walking in Bali always look down. It’s not really advice as much as it is a requirement. Beyond the occasional monkey blocking your path, there are giant holes in the sidewalk—if you're lucky enough to find one, that is. Plus, scooters aren’t shy about riding on these same sidewalks you stroll on to bypass traffic and if you’re not careful, you might demolish on someone’s daily offering to the gods. I don’t know what the rules are for stepping on offerings, but i can only assume it’s frowned upon. The pic above is a good example of the typical Balinese offerings you'll find adorning the sidewalks here.
Negotiating a price makes me so uncomfortable. Previously when we were vacationing we didn’t worry much about haggling. We would pay a higher price and think of it as a donation. We were still getting things for far less than what we would in the States, so it was a win win. But, things are different when you’re unemployed and traveling long term. The longer we’re here, the more familiar we become with what a local price is and what a "bule" price is.
Once you establish the “Bali price”, it’s easier to just tell the vendor what you will pay instead of asking what they charge. For instance, if you know a Pomelo is 15,000 rupiah (basically $1), I may say something like, “Permisi, lima belas ribu?” ("Excuse me, 15,000?") or simply show them the exact amount of money you’d be willing to hand them for the item. This is far superior to the method of being told a pomelo is $3 then having to go back and forth until you agree on a fair price.
Above is Tyler "taking on" a few fruit vendors at the morning market in Ubud, and admittedly he's much better at the back-and-forth than I am. I get anxious and start to take the banter personally, whereas his approach involves lots of laughing, teasing and compliments...and really, that's all the Balinese want. Bargaining is like a game to them. It also doesn't hurt that he's a man...
In one shop, I was negotiating a price and the woman left the shop and went to Tyler who was waiting outside to barter with him instead. Little do they know, Tyler doesn’t cave the way I do and he’d rather sweat all night than pay the extra $2 for air conditioning (true story).
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