Some of you may know that we have been travelling for a month and our first destination was Bali. We have done our research focusing on kids friendly localities and raw food lifestyle. We have found many places which organise raw food as well as other health related retreats in Bali so we were very exciting to go for a month.
We would like to share with you our 6 reasons why not to holiday in Bali with a young family. Please note this is our personal experience and view and it is not our intention to upset anyone. This is purely how we felt and observed Bali.
Let me just start positively and say that Bali has its culture, spirit and very pleasant tropical climate. Majority of the local people are very nice and friendly. However, we were unpleasantly surprised by a lack of care of others and appreciation of their beautiful nature. Here are our personal reasons we wouldn’t holiday nor live in Bali:
1. Bali is extremely polluted! We actually renamed Bali to an ‘Island of rubbish’:( It might sound horrific, but this is how we felt. It was very heart breaking to see local people dumping rubbish in rivers and forest! We are aware that the majority of the waste is created by the increasing tourism. As you can imagine, all the rubbish would end up in the ocean and back on the beaches. We didn’t feel like letting our small kids to play on the beach as you could find broken glass bottles easily on the beaches. No matter where we went – South, East, North, West. All places were polluted in Bali – some more than the others, the worst was the south part of Bali.
This is a picture of the airport in Denpasar, Bali – beautiful building..however when you look behind the walls..you can see the rubbish everywhere!
2. You have to bargain the price of almost everything! You don’t have set up price of food and services unless you go to a restaurant, local supermarket or take a taxi on meter. As raw foodists we don’t usually go to local supermarkets, but to local fresh markets where we can buy organic produce. We had to negotiate the price of everything which was very tiring and time consuming for us. One local lady asked $38 AUS for four pieces of passion fruit, two mangoes and one vanilla bean! Eventually, I only paid $8 AUS! When the locals spot a foreigner it seems they think you are extremely rich and just try to rip you off. We felt they are not as spiritual and loving as you would think due to their religious roots. Here I just think of Fiji… how lovely, positive, carrying and friendly people we met there! I have to mention here that Bali is becoming overpriced!
3. Not a safe place for small kids! As Bali is so polluted and populated you cannot walk safely with two small kids without watching them all the time and holding their hands. Because of almost no waste management there are many rats running around (we even saw one in the kitchen of one of the hotels we stayed) as well as poorly looked after dogs and cats which seem not to belong to anyone. Our kids love animals and they wanted to touch all of them as they are used to in Australia but we could not let them.
4. Very poor hygiene standards! As a professional in Public Health Medicine, you can imagine how much I suffered. My guess is that the incidence and prevalence of infectious diseases are much higher in Bali due to poor hygiene conditions, limited waste management and poorly, sick animals running everywhere. Don’t get me wrong here. We don’t mind not having hot water or no flushable toilet, but if you have to walk in rubbish, get in touch with sick animals and see people buying ‘fresh’ fish from the local market which is not cooled during the hot days, this is not good.
5. Heavy traffic! When I say heavy, I really mean HEAVY! I have never seen so busy roads anywhere in the World (Oh, India is the exception) If you can drive in Denpasar, you can drive anywhere! 🙂 Motorbikes, cars and scooters are everywhere; people don’t care if they get into your way and impatient if they see a family with the kids trying to cross the road.
6. Not a paradise for raw foodist. We couldn’t find a proper local organic market with fresh fruit and vegetables where we would feel comfortable to buy the produce. We went to one market in Ubud as recommended by our friends, but the produce was very limited and I must mention again the poor hygiene standards at those local markets! When we stayed on the Northern side of the island, we visited a local market in Bedugul which was really nice and we finally found great range of fruits and vegetables. I’m not even mentioning that you cannot be sure the produce is organic!
I can imagine when you live in Bali for a while, one would connect to the locals, learn their language and experience how they grow their fresh produce. However, seeing the rice fields full of plastic bags and being so polluted, one cannot trust that most of the produce haven’t been sprayed with pesticides.
We are well aware that what’s going on in Bali is not the fault of the locals, but the corrupted government which seems not to care about Balinese community, but how much money they earn from increasing tourism. We have visited other ‘developing’ countries, but we have never seen so polluted one 🙁 When we talked to Balinese people, they were all aware of this, just not sure how to change it without any kind of help. We collected the rubbish on a daily basis with our kids, however, this is just peanuts..at least we tried and taught them there is no need to wrap everything and if they reduce their plastic usage it would help significantly. They should firstly think about themselves rather than to please tourists! The Western tourists shouldn’t close their eyes and rather think about waste initiatives which can help the community by reducing their own wastage!
To summaries – if you want to holiday in Bali, just be ready for these things. Most of the hotels and resorts are very nice, but when you leave these resorts and go and see a real local life, you might have a cultural shock so be well prepared.
I personally cannot imagine living in Bali longer term with two small kids who are very active and wild. There is not much to do with small kids. We haven’t seen one proper playground (except the ones in the resorts). The popular Monkey Forest in Ubud is nice, but not natural any more. Bali is a very touristy place and unfortunately the nature and wild life is not protected well.
This is how we felt in Bali. We don’t want to put you off, however we are very honest here!
Lots of love and the next article from our travelling adventures will focus on Thailand.