One of the five things that will make your life easier in Bali is definitely to learn the language. Many of our clients (land or villa buyers and long-term villa renters), especially those “Bali first-timers” sometimes find difficulties in the beginning to adjust with Bali’s environment: the people, the culture, the habits, the geckos and the rainy season etc. This following advices are filtered from a longer list, tested and evaluated.
- Learn Bahasa
Language barrier sucks. Everyone knows that. Therefore it’s mandatory for you to learn a little bit of Bahasa. Bahasa Indonesia is the national language and is used nation wide, so even a meager skill on it will come in handy everywhere you manage to travel in Indonesia. In Bali, only those really old people born before Cpt. Cook discovered Australia that don’t speak Indonesian fluently. Bahasa is quite an easy thing to learn, although the correct pronunciation is quite a different matter. For example, we don’t have tenses, nor modals, nor grammatical gender, which together form the trickiest parts in a language. All you need to do is memorizing as many verbs and nouns as possible.
Try these steps to speed your learning process:
Road to mastery: 2 weeks-1 Month
1. Buy a …..-Indonesia dictionary (fill the dots with your native language). Read it whenever you can…use the index instead of reading it page-per-page from the front.
2. Watch as many sinetron in a week, marathon style. Sinetron is Indonesian soap opera that usually aired on the prime time, so, you won’t miss it. Every TV station except the all-news channel, has its own sinetron series, so don’t worry, a lot of options there. They’re probably the crappiest TV show in the whole world, but it’s perfect tool for this purpose since they use both formal and informal Bahasa. Use that to enrich your vocabularies and practice the pronunciation.
3. Find Indonesian girlfriend or boyfriend. Survey shows that those with native partner learns Bahasa much faster than those without. (I’m just kidding on the survey part, but deadly serious about the result)
4. Test your skills frequently by talking Bahasa everywhere you go. If you can bargain with ease using Bahasa in a traditional market, consider yourself pass, my young Padawan.
Nowadays, this Google service app has become an integrated feature on every smartphone (and not so smart ones). You can access it anywhere. Consider that 80% of your time in Bali will be spent on the road, either for long distance or just a short walk looking for the closest restaurant, this piece of app is a must have.
In your spare time, use it just to familiarize yourself with area close to you, 3 km radius for each review. Don’t forget to memorize the name of the area. Take mental notes on where the cardinals are from your position. This will come in handy, because Balinese use cardinal direction when they are giving directions (instead of “turn left”, they’ll said go north and then westward).
Google map is even handier since more and more place in Bali, be it restaurants, hotels or inns getting indexed. One of its feature also allows you to know which shortest way to take to your destination.
- Mosquito repellant
This simple yet handy fragrant and gooey substance could determine a success of a vacation. Mosquito bite-marks aren’t sexy. If you’re allergic or simply don’t like chemical ingredients being used, you can make use of lavender (fresh or juiced). Not only will it ward off mosquitoes and other blood-sucking bugs (and the tropical disease they may carry, like dengue fever) but it also makes your skin bite marks-free.
- Learn how to drive motorbike
Motorbikes, be it automatic scooter or those custom made muscle bikes still become the most favorite way to move from Point A to Point B in Bali. Dedicate part of your time to learn how to drive it safely. By safely I mean to comply to the basic rules: not too fast, signal before turning, helmet on, and especially, never ever give a “read between the lines” finger gesture to the police.
- Drink Responsibly
This one goes without saying due to its universal scope. Drinking and driving is a recipe for disaster anywhere on this Earth. I remember, I once had to pull a newlywed couple out of a dirty gutter in Batubelig at 3 am because they seemed to forget this really wise advise so epically. Thankfully they were okay. The bride was just too zonked to realize that they had an accident. Why would you do something here that you won’t do in your home country? Take a cab whenever your plan of the evening include having a nauseating hangover the next day.
There. You have it. Do them all and I guarantee life would be much easier during your stay in Bali.