Skyscanner – I love that I can choose “to” destination “flexible”. It helps me to find the cheapest destination from Europe to Asia (no matter Thailand, Malaysia or other, from there to go to Indonesia simpler).
Momondo – If my travel dates are flexible it’s great to see all the prices in the chart by dates and choose the cheapest date to fly.
Nusatrip – here I find sometimes the cheapest flights inside Asia.
Tiket – one of the websites that you can find well cheapest flight tickets inside Asia. As well you can buy train tickets, rent a car, book a hotel in Indonesia.
Traveloka – here you can find flights, hotels, train tickets, and much more.
Thorn Tree – many travel advice from local travelers and not only. I like that people most of the time give exhaustive answers to questions.
Couchsurfing – people not only host you but share their experiences, advice. Often organize meetings with travelers and local people.
FB groups – you can find many travel groups by different regions, traveling types and etc.
Darmasiswa scholarship – possibility to study Indonesian culture, live here for 6-12 months. I was selected for this program.
Internship in Indonesia– another possibility to stay in Indonesia and share your academic and cultural knowledge with Indonesian students.
Work away – voluntary program around the world and many possibilities for Asia as well. I already have several projects in my mind that would like to attend.
GoAbroad– providing the most comprehensive international education and alternative travel resource. You can find a study, internship, volunteering programs, and more.
Easy book – largest booking website in SE Asia: bus, train, car, ferry, and local tours in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and more. Often suggest discounts for online tickets.
Klook – car with a driver’s rental, pick up/drop off from the airport, and much more. All around Southeast Asia and other countries. The prices are really good.
12goAsia – boat and other transportations tickets around Southeast Asia.
Tiket – train tickets, car rentals in Indonesia. Easier to buy Indonesian train tickets here.
Go-jek – works like Uber in Indonesia. You can book not only a ride but as well as food delivery and much more.
Grab– similar to Go-jek but works not only in Indonesia but as well in other Southeast countries.
Blue Bird taxi– official taxi in Indonesia that you can order in Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Banten, Batam, Lombok, Manado, Medan, Padang, Pekanbaru, Palembang, Semarang, Solo, Surabaya, and Yogyakarta. Very easy to use their app “MyBlueBird”.
I believe you have seen how picturesque Bali island is? But only through Bali beaches, landscapes, nature spots you won’t see all the beauty of this island. A little knowledge and participation in Bali ceremonies, festivals (cultural or religious) can give more ineffable memories for your holidays in Bali. Like Indian writer, Siddharth Katragadda said, “The greatness of a culture can be found in its festivals”.
The best if you could attend any of Balinese family celebrations like Gedong-gedongan (ceremony in the 8th month of pregnancy), Menek kelih (puberty), teenagers transition to the adult’s world (tooth filling), wedding and etc. But if you will be in Bali island only for short period – I believe it’s not so easy to become close friends with local people and be invited to such sacred family ceremonies.
But in Bali, there are many public celebrations that you can attend. Almost every month you can enter different Bali ceremonies, festivals. For example, well-known monsters parade Ogoh-Ogoh, Nyepi (silent day – Bali’s Lunar New Year), Galungan (Balinese Hindus commemorate the legendary battle of good versus evil), art or villages festivals, temples anniversaries and etc.
During my 1st year of living in Bali I have participated in the above-mentioned (and others) Bali ceremonies, rituals, so this year I’m more interested to attend unique, unusual, less known among travelers Bali ceremonies. Maybe you will be interested to take a part in any of these Bali ceremonies, during your trip to Bali?
Bali ceremonies, festivals, rituals – my bucketlist
Kissing ceremony that helps to find beloved – “Omed-Omedan”
I don’t know whether believe the legend, but around 100 years ago king Puri Oka was sick. Outside his place, the youngsters were playing the game Omed Omed (boys pulled the random boy to the side, girls pulled the random girl to the side too). When pulled boy and girl were close to each other, by accident – they kissed. And this event caused a lot of noise from youngsters. King was angry and get outside to stop this noisy game. But after he gets out he didn’t feel ill anymore. After such “magic” the King announced that this Omed Omed (that literally means “pull-pull”) should be held each year after Nyepi celebration (Balinese New Year).
Nowadays in this ceremony can participate only unmarried Sesetan village youth (17-30 years old). People say, that through this ceremony many couples met and build families. As well such ritual brings good luck and prosperity to those who are taking part in it. Not enough that participants may not know each other and will kiss strangers, village priests throw water over participants to douse the flames of passion. Maybe this ceremony not so special but for sure can give good vibes. More about this Bali festival.
Place: Banjar Kaja Sesetan in Denpasar, Bali
The best place to stay near Denpasar would be the Sanur area (I doubt you would really enjoy staying in the capital of Bali, during your holidays). I have stayed in Sanur in these places:
Sudamala Suites & Villas – I love this place. It’s like a small oasis near the main Sanur area. So many unique details inside. Inspiring, peaceful, spacious surroundings, delicious food, and very friendly staff.
Puri Santrian – quite a big hotel but has straight access to the beach. You can choose from many different types of rooms. I enjoy their buffet type breakfast with a big assortment, live Gamelan music, green surrounding, and helpful staff.
As well can be an option to stay in Kuta (from ceremony place the distance almost the same to go to Sanur or Kuta). You can check options in Airbnb too: Kuta or Sanur. And if you are new to Airbnb you can get FREE credits for first your booking.
Full moon ceremony to ask God’s grace
“Purnama” the day of the full moon is a special day for Balinese people. Every month on the full moon extra offerings “sesajen” are made in family temples. As well such offerings are taken to the village temple. Depending on the full moon time usually, many temples will have special events for villagers, like dancing, shadow puppet theater wayang, other performances. Such full moon ceremony takes all day long activities from preparation offering, cooking, going to the temples and etc. Every 10th full moon (called “Purnama Kadas”) even more special. Unique rituals you can see not only in the main island temples but as well in smaller ones. For example on this special day, the mother temple, Besakih, holds a special ceremony known as “Betara Turun Kabeh”, inviting the gods and deified ancestors for their blessings. More about this ceremony from fellow travel blogger you can find here.
Place: island-wide in major temples.
Note: during such ceremonies, the temples are crowded with prayers.
The best place to stay in Bali during this ceremony is the Ubud area. Because you can easily reach main temples like Besakih, Tirta Empul, Pura Goa Lawah, and others. You can check an Airbnb listing. I have stayed in Ubud in these places:
Tjampuhan Ubud & Spa – cozy, beautiful place with a view to a temple and just a couple minute walk from Campuhan Ridge Walk, not far from the center. Breakfast was very delicious.
Manyi Village Ubud – a place surrounded by rice paddies but further from the Ubud center (they have a shuttle bus). It’s not a big place, quiet, intimate. From the balcony, you can see the sunrise, from bathroom window paddies. Breakfast buffet type with several options.
Ubud Wana Resort – city type hotel, not too big, with spacious rooms, couple swimming pools, not far from Ubud Monkey forest. Stuff very flexible and helpful. Breakfast buffet type with several options.
Sanggingan Villa and Permana Cottages – Ubud – both places are not too far from Ubud center. Rooms are spacious but the interior of Bali in 80’s (some rooms only with fan, some rooms needs improvement). Very simple served breakfast.
Self-stabbing ritual that brings people closer to God – “Ngerebong”
This ritual, more than 100 years old, for sure not for everyone. I have seen some trance rituals on Java island, so I’m a bit curious to see it in Bali too. Balinese believe that stabbing themselves in the neck and chest with a dagger called “keris” without drawing a drop of blood (can you imagine that it’s possible?) helps to achieve harmony between humans, nature, and God. The ritual not only brings villagers closer to God, it also helps give them a sense of community. All preparation, ceremonies, and ritual itself take all day long. Find out more about this Balinese ritual or take a look at this video.
Place: Petilan Pengerebongan temple, Kesiman, Denpasar, Bali
Time: Every 210 days (on the eight-day after Kuningan)
The best place to stay near Denpasar would be the Sanur area (to stay in the capital of the island, not the best choice). I have stayed in a couple of hotels in Sanur – you can check above my experience there.
Kid’s transition to the adult’s world sacred ceremony – “Usaba Dangsil”
When I saw girl’s pictures from Bungaya village (one of the oldest villages in Bali) during the Usaba Dangsil ceremony – I understood that it is something that I haven’t seen yet in Bali. It’s not only about different local people’s ritual clothing but as well about activities they do for this ceremony. Boys and girls (hundreds of them) have to follow many rituals, which shows that they became grownups. Beside all rituals are built 7 giant pillars (which symbolize welfare and protection) and with all villagers help transported to a certain place. This unique main ritual held only every 12-14 years! The last time it was in August 2016. You can read more about this ceremony here and watch a short video from the event in 2016.
Place: Bungaya village in Karangasem, Bali
Time: Every 12-14 years, every full and dark moon from 10 am you can see special performances.
Best hotels in Bali, Karangasem area you can find here or check Airbnb places. I have stayed in Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa. Honestly, it is one of my favorite places to stay in Bali – the hotel is in front of the sea (even if it’s not possible to swim there), interior nicely mixed between Balinese and modern style, spacious and green surrounding, breakfast is buffet type with big assortment and staff very helpful.
Sacred ceremony to neutralize 288 evil spirits – “Ngerebeg”
Locals believe that at least 288 different kind of demons lives along Tegelalang’s river. To neutralize these spirits Balinese from Tegalalang village every 6 months organize a parade that is in conjunction with Duur Bingin temple anniversary. It requires villagers to dress up like a demon. This traditional ceremony, sacred Grebeg ritual, in Tegalalang village known from the 13th century.
There is no gender restriction but mainly in such a parade participate hundreds of 3-15 years old boys (as well as teenagers). As well they prepare 288 meal offerings at any major religious festival to appease these spirits. This ritual purifies the village through the noisy parade of scary-looking kids (reminds a bit Ogoh Ogoh before Nyepy day). People believe that supernatural beings will be pacified so they won’t disturb temple ceremonies. In the morning kids deliver offerings and in the evening – they participate in a parade. I think it’s quite fun to watch this parade, see kids’ creativity. More about this Bali ceremony here.
Place: Duur Bingin temple, Tegalalang village, Gyanair, Bali
Best Bali hotels to stay in around Tegalalang. Or you can stay in Ubud. My experiences staying in Ubud you can check above.
Blood offering ritual to the Gods to appease the spirits – “Mekare-kare”
In ancient Balinese village Tenganan (where people still follow prie-Hindu culture and traditions) once a year, men participate in a theatrical fight “Mekare kare” (as well known as “Perang Pandan”, “Pandan war” or “Megeret Pandan”). The aim of such battle is to draw blood, to spill a few drops on the bare earth to appease the spirits and keep them at peace. Other people say that this ceremony nowadays is about to impress the village’s unmarried women. In any case, this ritual quite interesting because man’s fights with sharp pandanus leaves, bamboo shield and accompanied by native gamelan music “Selonding” (playing only in this village). Each fight lasts only a couple of minutes. Even if you won’t see a battle, during this event you will enjoy this Balinese ceremony because women will be dressed in traditional, only for this village common clothes, you will see traditional performances and hear Selonding music. It’s a time when you can be a witness to the most beautiful village. More about this ritual you can read here and watch the video.
Place: Tenganan Pegringsingan and Tenganan Dauh Tukad villages in Karangasem, Bali
Best Bali accommodation in Karangasem area you can find here. I have stayed in Rama Candidasa Resort & Spa. Honestly, it is one of my favorite places to stay in Bali – the hotel is in front of the sea (even if it’s not possible to swim there), interior nicely mixed between Balinese and modern style, spacious and green surrounding, breakfast is buffet type with big assortment and staff very helpful.
Harvest celebration – “Makepung” water buffalo’s races
Agrarian scenes are part of Balinese daily life. And to uphold agriculture traditions each year in some parts of the island is an organized unique festival – buffaloes race. It‘s a colorful agriculture spectacle-race (known from ~1930) which symbolizes the mutual help of farmers carrying their harvest using a carriage that pulls by two buffaloes. Balinese participate in such a race for honor, pride, and trophy. Race tradition originally came from Madura island in Indonesia. Such an event was so inspiring that in 1984 was created special traditional dance “Makepung”. This dance is performed by 7 to 9 males, females and depicts riders, the buffaloes themselves. One of the unique features of the dance is that it is accompanied by the Jegog bamboo orchestra, which is also typical of the regency. Find out more about this race and you can check this video.
Place: Kaliakah village, Perancak (close to Negara) in Jembrana, Bali
Best hotels in Bali Jembrana area you can see here or Negara here. But maybe you can find something suitable on Airbnb?
ALL YEAR LONG
Temple ceremonies – temple “birthday”
Every temple and shrine in Bali (there are more than ~4539 temples) has an annual ceremony called “Odalan”. The word “Odalan” is believed to have come from the root word “Wedal” which means “birth”. This is usually the day when the temple buildings are blessed for the first time or the day where Balinese Hindus commence to bring offerings and pray in the temple. Temple festival may come once in 210 days following the “Wuku” Balinese calendar (twice in a Gregorian calendar), thus a semi-annual celebration, or maybe an annual ceremony, if villagers follow the lunar calendar. Bali ceremonies for temples are very colorful, people are making special decorations, offerings as well you can see exclusive performances.
Since every village has at least three major temples (and often many more than that), there is always some kind of community religious activity going on. So I believe you could join any such event during your holidays in Bali.
Notice that during temple ceremony, not allow:
Enter such festival if you have an open wound, bring food inside, if you are mentally or physically ill, being in a state of mourning (for the Balinese this lasts 42 days or one month + 7 days of Balinese calendar), and having given birth within the past 42 days.
Time: every 210 days. Temple ceremony usually lasts for 1-3 days, but larger ones (which occur every 5, 10, 30 or 100 years) can last for 7-11 days or longer.
As well maybe you can be interested to see cockfights? Legal fights you can see usually during temple ceremonies almost all around the island but many people organize it illegally too. I have seen such fights in the Karangasem area, it’s quite common there but it’s hard to know from before when it will be held.
Furthermore, I participated in a Balinese sacred purification ritual which aimed to purify a human body and soul in order to prevent havoc, bad luck, and sickness (also achieve self-purification). If you would be interested to experience it too, before going to any water temple talk with local people who will explain the meaning, sequence and etc. The main thing – do it not for entertainment but with understanding why you do it and how to do it right.
I believe you don’t want to become an annoying tourist. Some tips for visiting Bali ceremonies, festivals, rituals (especially religious):
Always wear sarong and sash (you can bring your own or rent in the temple).
Don’t wear a bikini, too transparent clothes.
Never sit higher than the priest, on the offerings.
Don’t walk in front of people when they are praying or further than the prayers are.
Women are not allowed to enter temples during menstruations.
Don’t use flash or point camera at the priest’s face.
Be polite if making pictures of people – don’t disturb them if they are preparing for a ceremony, praying. Would be nice if you ask their permission to take photos of them.
Moreover, you should know that during the main religious, national celebrations can be a bit difficult to travel in Bali or another Indonesian island like people will have holidays. You can check the Indonesian holiday calendar of yearly events to plan your trip at the right time.
It’s only Bali celebrations that I want to visit this year (those that I didn’t mention here I already visited or will leave for next year too). Indonesia has more than 17 000 islands, each of them has different own celebrations. So you can imagine that in Indonesia you can feel like in never-ending celebration place.
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
Which Bali ceremonies, festivals, or rituals you would like to attend?
In which of these or other Bali ceremonies you already participated?
Do you have any similar to Bali ceremonies celebrations in your country?
While you are traveling you almost can’t avoid meeting other travelers, tourists on your way. But let’s be clear who is “tourist” and who is “traveler”. The most common definition of “tourist” is “a person who is traveling, especially for pleasure”. “Traveler” – “someone who is traveling or who travels often”. I think (and I use this description in this post): “tourist” a person who comes to a place just to take what he wants, needs, “check” on the “been/seen/done” list. He thinks everything goes only around his needs; “traveler” – a person, who comes to a place to give, understand, be a part of local culture. Who wants to make the trade – take but as well give something in return.
If a tourist wants to get the most benefits of being a tourist, be noticed by local people, other travelers – he should follow these guidelines. Then he can claim to get an award of most annoying tourist in Asia.
How to become the most annoying tourist in Asia
#1 Become a speaker
How will people know you or understand better, if you won’t share how you feel, think without saying it? It’s too tiring to speak with each person about yourself? So just be sure to speak as loud as you can with a person in front of you. Then everybody who is around (workers, other tourists, travelers) will hear you and you will get attention, even if you are not the most important person in that place.
#2 Be proud of your success by showing how much money you have
You feel that people won’t give attention to you if you won’t start to show/tell how rich you are. And because of it, you can get everything you want? So do it! Don’t accept any negative answer to your wishes, just tell people that you have a lot of money and you can buy everything you want: respect, justice, people and etc. Like you believe people in Asia are poor, so money the only way to solve problems, get anything.
#3 Forget your clothes
You have worked so hard in the gym a month before the holiday (just to look good in photos that you will share in your social profiles). So why you should cover your body with clothes? The swimsuit is not only for the beach, walk with it in the city as well. Why you should dress properly in front of local people, respect their religion and culture? Who are they – just locals, don’t care about them. Don’t forget you are the main person!
#4 No need to use simple humanity rules
Local people don’t understand when you are polite to them. Only if you scream, showing disrespect – they will solve your problems. They are not normal people like you or those with whom you deal in your own country. So act differently than you do in your country.
You respect only those who are worth it, right? Who are the local people? You don’t know them, you don’t understand them. So, why you should respect them? Don’t do that, act with them like they are not humans.
#5 Delete words “local rules” from your vocabulary
You should forget the expression “local rules”. You are not local, you are a tourist, just temporary staying for your vacation. You should have a good time, do things that you don’t do in your own country, without thinking about anything. Remember – “rules” are not for you! Drive motorbike without a helmet, as fast as you can, with as many people on a motorbike as you can take and etc. Don’t think that it can be dangerous for you and other people. If others do like this, why can’t you? You don’t need to think, you left your brain at home and want just follow others’ behavior – it’s much easier.
#6 Make a challenge for yourself
Alcohol in your country too expensive? Don’t have reasons to get drunk there? Yes, vacation in Asia is the right time and place to be the drunk the whole day! Get drunk till stage when local people try to help you find where are you staying or call for help like you can’t even stand up (and your friends just left you lying somewhere). A holiday is all about it – be drunk all the time.
#7 Take pictures of local people like in the zoo
While you are completing you “been/seen/done” list, you will meet local people which maybe you will find interesting. So just go to them, put a photo camera in front of their faces, no matter what they are doing at that time, and try to get the best shot. Don’t forget to make as many as possible shots. As well don’t think to be polite and ask people permission to take their picture. Some locals in Asia don’t speak English, so why you need to waste your time asking for permission? Feel free to just behave with them like with animals in the zoo.
#8 Follow your animal instincts
You feel passion here and right now? So have sex straight where you are, for example in the public hotel swimming pool. Who cares if somebody will see you? You feel the passion and want to demonstrate it. After all, you do the same in your country, in other countries outside Asia while you are traveling. So, why you can’t do it here as well? And don’t forget to “order” local females/males for your sex games – like “it’s part of the culture”, “you can help them to earn a little money” and they “enjoy working this job”.
#9 Leave your brains at home
You worked hard for a long time to get these couple weeks of pleasure. So just leave your brain at home and do things that you never do in your country or outside of Asia. Get crazy, do dangerous things, don’t think about anything. Try everything that locals suggest even if you don’t know what this is. Vacation is the time when you don’t need any limits. And Asian countries just waiting for your craziness. Here is one of the crazy things which you can do in Asia.
So it’s all my tips to get an award of most annoying tourist in Asia. Maybe you have suggested other tips?
I hope I haven’t offended any of you. But at least you know now how sometimes your behavior looks like from another point of view. And why local people treat you in a way which you don’t like. Keep in mind that everything is written in a sarcastic way from my personal experience during traveling in Asia.