Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Travel Tips: Useful reminders for your Bali holiday

Bali is a small island in Indonesia. It is so small that you can drive around its coastlines in just one day. Do not take it for its size though since Bali is considered as among the top tourism destinations of the world. You can ask anyone who has been there and you will get nothing mostly but praises. Images of the beach, dances, colorful ceremonies, serene spas, enchanting temples and the warm people will certainly be stuck in your memory. A Bali holiday lets you experience nature, culture, and relaxation at its best.
If you will be coming from the west, you might want to check with your government first if there are travel advisories and concerns. You might want to monitor first the situation since Bali travel often comes with the risk of getting into an area where the threat of terrorism is considered high.
Traveling to a foreign country where you are not familiar with the surroundings, people, and customs always involve risks in terms of your health and safety. Here are some tips that may come useful for your Bali travel:
Travel advisories
Check with your local tourism or foreign affairs department for any warnings, bans, or safety concerns in Bali prior to your trip. You can often see these reminders on the websites of government agencies or you can also call their offices.
Pick your activities well
You should not assume that the operators in Bali will always look after your well being. You should always take calculated risks and know if you are physically fit for an activity. Reality wise, volcano trekking, surfing, and diving have claimed the lives of locals and tourists a like. So make sure that you always look after your own and your family’s safety and health.
Begging
When you go to Ubud, Legian, or Kuta, you may encounter beggars asking you for some change or food. Most likely a woman with several children will approach you. Pause for a bit and literally they may cling on to your arm.
Drugs
As much as you try to blend in with the locals and the crowd, the color of your skin and the way you dress will most likely give you away that you are not a local. People will go to you and offer you drugs like shabu, crystal meth, pot, ectasy, or magic mushrooms . This can happen while you’re in the beach, club, or while walking in touristy areas.
Being caught with these drugs will really be a nightmare translating to enormous fines or years in jail. Nabbing foreigners for possession of illegal drugs, sad to say, has been a cottage industry. Authorities also do random checking of urine in clubs.
Theft
You will not hear much about violent crimes but pickpocketing, snatching, and theft from parked vehicles or rooms are common. Money belts may come useful plus you also should carry your bag over the neck instead of the shoulder. When you go to an ATM or money changer, always keep or secure your money first before going anywhere. When you are in crowded areas or while riding public transport, be careful of pickpockets.
Do not leave your valuables in your hotel room. It will be wisest to make use of the secure storage being offered by your hotel. You also need to make sure that bathroom windows and doors are closed sine thieves can access your room thru these pasages.
A lot of tourists also loose belongings when they leave them on the beach while they go for a swim.
Traffic
The traffic in the tourist hot spots of Bali can be very annoying aside from the other dangers driving itself poses. Be careful when you drive on the streets of Bali. You also need to be very careful when crossing the street or walking along the roads. You will notice that footpaths are often not well maintained and rough.
Swimming
If you will go to Kuta Beach, make sure that you swim within the boundaries of the flags since the area is known for its strong currents and big waves. There are life guards on duty especially in Kuta, Seminyak, Nusa Dua, Legian, Senggigi, and Sanur but still accidents may happen.
The other beaches are often surrounded by coral reefs so the surf is not so heavy but the current can still be treacherous.
After the rains, water pollution might be a problem as streams flowing onto the sea carry the dirty water. Avoid these flows as much as possible.
Never walk on the corals since they are very sharp plus the cut they cause are easily infected.
Touts, pedlars, and hawkers
One big annoyance you might have during your Bali holiday are people trying to sell you everything. These people will not try once but be very persistent that you get their goods. The local government has restricted a lot of areas to these hawkers but still they will be just by the fence waiting for any opportunity to sell.
Some of the worst places where hawkers are everywhere are the touristy spots of Lombok, Kuta beach, Tanah Lot, Besakih, and Gunung Batur.
The best way to deal with these hawkers and pedlars is just to ignore them. Do not make eye contact. Do not show a bit of interest like checking the quality of the goods or asking for its price or you will be wasting a lot of time bargaining or begging out of the deal. It might sound rude to not smile back at people but it is pretty tough to get rid of these hawkers. Keep in mind though that they are also trying to make some living.
Scams
The people in Bali are naturally friendly and the atmosphere is very relaxed. With your mind set for a good holiday, you need to remind yourself that there are still people (often not Balinese) who might take advantage and rip you off.
Very few if next to none of the locals would warn you that you are being scammed. Be observant and see if the people around you are acting uneasy or uncommunicative.
It is common to encounter car con artists. One will distract you and the other will make your vehicle emit smoke, have a flat tire, or spill some oil to make it seem that you got a big problem with your ride. Next scenario will be them leading you to a guy who can fix it but for a hefty price.
Another common scam will involve some locals convincing you that you can earn some quick cash thru a card game. Who does not want extra cash while traveling but if you fall to this trap, we can bet that you’re whole budget will be gone in no time.
If you will have to go to a money changer, be careful when you are given the best of exchange rates. Always count your money before leaving the establishment. Make sure that your money does not leave your hand after the exchange. It will be best to stick to using the ATM.