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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.

Table manners
Tips for first-time travelers to Bali

A Balinese will always offer to share his meal when a visitor arrives at his house, office, or park bench, and he will usually excuse himself for eating in front of you at a warung. If you're offered food or drink in someone's home it is polite to accept or at least ask for a glass of hot tea. A guest may not start to eat or drink until invited to do so by the host with "Silakan" ("Please begin to eat") or "Silahkan minum" ("Please drink"), sometimes 20 minutes later! Take a small helping the first time because your host will be offended if you don't eat a second.

It's polite to keep pace with your host. If you empty your plate, it means you want more. If you are the host, ask your Indonesian guest to eat or drink when food is served since he will wait until you offer it. Many Balinese don't use utensils at home but eat the traditional way with the fingers of the right hand. Never eat with the left hand-it's used instead of toilet paper. When you're done eating ask the host or hostess for permission (permisi) to leave.

Indonesians are not accustomed to eating uncooked food such as salads, cold meats, and dairy products, but fruit is often served after a meal. Westerners rarely eat the insides of cattle, pigs, or chickens, but on Bali every part of an animal is eaten except its eyes. Families don't usually talk during meals; conversation starts after. If you have to pick your teeth cover your mouth with your hands-only animals show their fangs.

Last revised on January 30, 2010
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