Chuck Carroll

Bali, Indonesia

Published: 2022-07-31

I had to do another border run so I could legally stay in Viet Nam, so instead of taking a quick bus trip to Cambodia, we booked a tour to Bali Indonesia. We also brought Nguyen's sister along who had never traveled outside of Viet Nam, so a tour felt like an easy option for a first time international traveler.

Similar to my experience in Phuket, my time in Bali felt very "touristy". In fact, even more so since we were on an actual tour and spent most of our time in the south (in Nusa Dua and the surrounding area). The tour was through a Vietnamese company called Viet Travel and catered primarily to Vietnamese people (as the name suggests). Our "tour guide" primarily spoke in Vietnamese and knew a bit of English, but he also had a local guide from Indonesia with him who spoke English fluently named "Made" (pronounced "Mah-Day", but Nguyen kept pronouncing "Mah-Doo").

We went to several tourist destinations, most of which were simply places to shop and where more and more money could attempted to be extracted from us. That isn't to say there weren't legitimately fun and interesting experiences, because there were. We visited a couple of beaches and several temples (which required me to wear a sarong), though I felt like somebody was always trying to sell me something even at these places. Bali's economy is heavily reliant on tourism (roughly 70%) and it seems like the Balinese culture has been heavily commercialized as the result of the tourism industry. The "authentic" culture that I think many people are seeking is merely an echo of what it once was. Though I had only been there for a few days, it felt very westernized. A simulacrum of the past, that's been packaged and sold as something to be consumed. At least in regards to the places I visited in the four days I was there.

I met a couple animals there. The first one was an animal known as a civet that eats coffee beans then poops them out, making what's called Luwak coffee (exotic and expensive). I did not drink this coffee, mostly because I felt bad for the caged civet, but also because I didn't feel comfortable drinking coffee from a bean that had been shit out by an animal. I also met several monkeys that populate an area referred to as "Monkey Temple" according to the tour guide. The monkey in the image below is a rare albino monkey that the local government put in a cage to keep it separated from the local population. Allegedly, they separated the albino monkey because the rest of the population would attack him unprovoked because he was different (or so they claim; I can't help but wonder if they caged him to put him on display to draw in more tourists).

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