Indonesia, Bali Island
January 1, 1970
by Maria Girão Sá
Indonesia, Bali Island
Same same, but diferent
The most simple way to describe Balinese people is starting to say how spiritual they are.
The vast majority of them are Hindu. From the first moment you arrive to the island, you will simply understand how religious they are. Whether through daily ceremonies, which sometimes do stop the trafic, or even with the simply oferends, wich they prepare so carefuly. There they are, these people so curious, celebrating day after day, showing their gratitude and giving thanks to the Gods.
A People who always celebrate Life
The Balinese devote hours and hours a day to celebrate and thank all you have in life. I will dare to say that is completely impossible to spend a week on this island without finding one of these festivities, which are absolutely particular. Balinese people start celebrating before the birth of a child and continue until the end of their lives.
An island with almost four names
If you arrive in the middle of a village in Bali and call for “Wayan” may know that several heads will turn around for you. That’s right. All people born in Bali are named according to their birth order. For example, the firstborn, boy or girl can be called Wayan, Putu or Gede. The second child will be called Kadek or Feito. For the third child, parents can choose between Nyoman or Komang and to the fourth child the “choice” is: Ketut and no discussion about that. And what if the family has the fifth child? They return to use the same “naming system”, in the same sequence.
The Balinese Calendar
The Balinese people follow preciously the Calendar, they really believe in good and bad days, and that totally depends on the moon.The good days are used to make big cerimonys, to get married, to celebrate anything with a good propose, and also to cremation.
The Balinese are known to be patient people, they can expect that time as necessary until the day comes that shall bury a loved member in their own families.
For the same reason, on the bad days they try not to do anything.
The philosophy or way of thinking is based on trying to find a balance between the “good” and the “bad”, and for that reason, they pray everyday, everywhere.
They see the world as the man is the microcosm, and the universe is the macrocosm, but actualy they have the some component. In other words, the universe has the higher world, the middle world, and the underground world, such as man has the head, the body, and the feet, (in order of importance).
Following that logical sistem, the North is the best/sacred direction that you can follow or be, even the location in a Balinese house, is like that, on north stays the most important person, or the older one.
The Balinese people do celebrations throughout his life and always based on cycles of 210 days lunar. The Balinese calendar, called Wuku is divided into lines which indicate 210 days and columns that show the days of the week. Each week has a different name and every day has also a different name, in the Balinese calendar.
In addition to the life cycle celebrations, the Balinese calendar has several dates as the Galungan, which is one of the biggest and most important religious ceremonies in the island. There are 10 days celebrating the victory of good against to the evil. During this period, they believe the ancestors who died and were cremated, will now go down to the earth to visit their former homes and join the festivities.
For the Balinese is a duty but at the same time, a joy, to let all very beautiful to receive those ancestors.
In the last and tenth day of Galungan, also happens another great ceremony called Kuningam. This is the day the spirits of ancestors return to heaven.
A beautiful goodbye.
Travelling Tips and Tricks
I will start by writting the most enjoyable aspects that this beautiful Island has to offer. Here there are some basic details you should know before planning to visit or even move to Bali…
- The incredible weather : Bali has only 2 seasons, dry and raining season.
– Beaches (south, all coast, and even in the north)
-All kind of perfect waves (for a good surfer and even for a starter)
- Cheap prices on everything, such as:
– Rent a motorbike (50 mil – 5 usd/month)
– Rent a house (1 million/1,5 million/month)
– Have dinner with 8 k (0,50 usd) ****
– Buy Marlboro pack for 17 k;
– Delivery clothes on laundry and pay 7k/kg;
– Travel around the island by motorbike – it will be your freedom in the island
- Don´t stress with the clock! If you are in Bali you defintely dont need to freek out with the hours, if you be late at work, or university, nobody cares… In Bali you tell an hour, and people appears 1 hour later, they already know how it works.
- If you search for relaxing you can easily find incredible beaches or even yoga classes (for example in Balangan Beach, you can have everyday at 5 p.m, and you pay what you think it´s fair to pay);
- Since you have a “game of pacience” you can get everything you want, bargain here is easy…
- If you work or study in Bali, you will have so many free days because the Balinese Peolple make cerimonys for everything, which means that everything stops and nobody works;
- You have party everyday, (free beer in Casa Blanca on Fridays, skygarden with 1hour free beer and buffet for 50k, cash &tree on Thursday, Deus on Sunday, Straw Hut or La Favela on Friday night, and it continues…)
- In every full moon, followed by the Calendary Balinese, it´s garanteed that you will have some party in some beach;
- If you are portuguese, you are lucky one because you still have some portuguese words in their vocabulary like:
-mesa – meja; (table)
– auto-estrada – autostrada;(highway)
– janela – jendela;(window)
– sapato – sapatu;(shoes)
– garfo – garpu; (fork)
– queijo- quejo (cheese)
- The Polution
- The corrupted Police. This means that everytime a tourist stops in an police operation, has to give quick money because the police wants and the tourist simply obeys as I use to say in portuguese “as a little lamb/como um carneirinho” .You have to be prepared, they ask money for everything, even for drinks (yes, for a indonesian beer called bintang).
- Trafic without any rules, since you pay, you can make your own rule
- The food. If you like rise, you are on the right way. Here you will eat “rise/nasi” at the breakfast, at the lunch, and again, at the dinner. It´s called “nasigoreng”, meaning oil cooked. That and “mie goreng” are the most popular “dishes” in Bali.
- A tourist is always a victim (higher prices f. ex.) and parking here (with lucky 2,000 rupias for motorbike) is the new tax;
- If you want try to understand why the prices that they practise are different in every place, forget, you will never understand. That´s the reality and you´ll not change it.
- If you don´t know anything about “Bahasa Indonesian”, maybe you can have a problem to comunicate with local people. Even if you know some words in their own language, Balinese people talk about directions in a very particulary way, like “go to the north, and then to the east”, “right” and “left” are two words rarely used.
I do not know if this was the idea that you had before, I do not know if I surprised you by the good or the bad side, the only thing I know, and using the words that locals often say, for me, Bali is, Same same, but different….
I was living in Bali for almost eight months, and during that time a lot of things happened, like I wrote before, amazing and positive things, incredible new people met, amazing life stories, different culture, uncommon customs, and way of living. But like in any other place around the World not everything is perfect, and accidents sometime may happened, or not. I rememberd hear from people that this particular accident (27 warungs were suddenly burned on 10h of February 2015, at Balangan beach, Bali Island) was not an accident… that this fire was made on purpose, I believe we will never know what truly happened and the reason why, and for that reason I will finish this article sharing with you a non-professional video made by me and the family that I choose to have with me during that time.