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Short guide to Bali

These pages contain a number of tips for travelers that are going to bring a visit to the Indonesian island of Bali soon. They are simple tips about the daily life on the island and what to expect when visiting the island. Many things will be just slightly different than at home, but it is important to locals that you at least somewhat adhere to their lifestyle.

Sex and intimacy
Tips for first-time travelers to Bali

Balinese of the opposite sex are not openly affectionate to one another. At public gatherings men always sit to one side of the courtyard and women on the other-gossiping, praying, smoking, gambling, or whatever.

Though considered homosexual behavior in Western societies, Balinese males and females frequently touch, link arms, or hold hands with their peers in a social setting. The whole island seems to share this quite unaffected and casual intimacy, considered a mark of friendship and sociability, not sexuality.

On Bali it's okay for men to touch other men in public. Balinese sometimes perceive Western men as unfriendly when they don't allow themselves to be touched, while Westerners perceive Balinese men as effeminate when they do. Touching very seldom occurs between people of the opposite sex, especially lovers.

To do so would bring shame and embarrassment to the families of those involved. Out of respect, Westerners should never kiss or show affection in public. All this doesn't mean that the Balinese are puritans. They love to tell bawdy off-color jokes, children are adept at making ribald puns, and the men aren't a bit shy about courting Western women.

Last revised on January 30, 2010
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