We truly went through a couple of lessons during our time in Bali. I really wanted to get to know some local people, and not to give the picture of the typical European who rumbles into the island and takes full advantage of the striking difference in price level. But how can you prove to be ‘different’? (if that is possible at all).
Well, there is a major contradiction present that I am not able to explain at this stage. One thing we became fully aware of as a fact was that the Balinese people are very spiritual. Religion is a very basic foundation and pillar of daily life. Little flower baskets and incense has to be used with every prayer. Hindus have to follow a set of commandments (similar to the Christian Ten Commandments). If they do not abide by them in particular, the understanding is that they will not move up in the next reincarnation process.
The bittersweet lesson is that despite their spiritualism we never really had the feeling that we were treated honestly. Whenever a price for a service or product was negotiated, you could be sure theat there would be a sequel and that the conditions or the prices would suddenly change afterwards. This is how a total fare of 50000IDR (€8) for the rent of 3 surfboards suddenly turned into the demand for three times 50000IDR (means €8 EACH) afterwards. We only paid the originally negotiated price, which made them really grumpy. It was also funny to hear a cab driver saying that he is really sorry, but he had mixed up the prices because of a wrong guess for a distance between two major tourist places. So he suddenly came up with 50% higher price, when we were on the way to our destination in Ubud. Oh, yes..very plausible.
LETS GO SKIING!
Unfortunately, these are not isolated cases. It happened almost Every Time! And if there was no change in price afterwards, then the product itself was not the way we expected it. What would you expect if someone promised you that a package trip up a volcano included skiing down again on the sand and that all the eqipment is included in the price? Surely not that you slide down with your own boots on a rocky and dangerous ground for only 30 seconds and walk the rest? Unluckily, the English capabilities of our guide deteriorated rapidly as soon as we started to complain, so we had a great time explaining him the difference between skiing and sliding. After a long argument with him and his moody boss in the office later (“Sir, we do work for a German Student Travel Guide, and we would love to regard your services as highly recommandable, but here we really do have a different view”..as you see, we joined the game), we got half of our money back.
This behaviour towards tourists seems all the more strange to me, since the Balinese people we met (who or course do not represent the whole island, but just people who usually come in contact with foreigners quite often) seem to live two different standards at the same time. On the one side, lying and unhonest behavior is strongly forbidden and its effect can only be remedied by strong belief and most intensive praying. On the other side they treat foreigners sometimes like idiots, who are just objects to be squeezed out like a lemon. Is cheating on your customers not a betrayal and a lie? How can this behavior be compatible to a commandment which says that stealing and robbing etc. is forbade? This is highly inconclusive to me and destroys a lot of trust.
TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT
Sounds like, I am complaining a lot while sitting under palm trees and sipping of my coconut? True, the weekend itself was great, as you can see on the pictures. Most of the people were helpful, courteous and very friendly. We also had a great time chatting with Balinese people in general. And of course, how could I even expect to get to know this island in only 3 days?
Well..but, whenever money was involved, you could be sure that there would be some foul play. Unfortunate, but nothing unsusual..I guess one has to live with that kind of hard bargaining. But please, if anyone has a reasonable idea how this contradiction can exist at all, feel free to comment on this post!
Wish you all a nice 2nd advent!