Being a Hindu myself, I was baffled by the temples in Bali. The temples had no idol or deity. I later learned that the Balinese believe in the Hindu principle of 'Nirguna, Nirakar Ishwar' (God not contained in a specific form or characteristic). Also, even if you are Hindu, the chances are that you won't be allowed in the inner sanctum of the temple. So don't feel offended.
By the way, the Balinese do install beautiful idols of Hindu Gods. However, you will find these at places such as your hotel entrance or in courtyards. You will also appreciate the many majestic idols of Lord Shiva, Lord Rama and Lord Ganesh standing tall at major road junctions. Also, mind your footstep when you walk as offerings for God kept in small square cane trays are kept everywhere.
6. Expect irritating touts, EVERYWHERE!
The weirdest experience we had in Bali was when we were riding on our scooter on a relatively busy road and a man riding another scooter swooped really close to our scooter and vehemently gestured us to stop on the side of the road. Wondering what the fuss was about, we stopped by the side of the road. To our absolute shock, this man on the scooter approached us and asked us if we were interested in enjoying water sport activities at the Pandawa beach through his agency! What makes this experience all the more crazy is that when we had this unexpected roadside interaction with that man, we were atleast 12 kilometres away from the Pandawa beach.
Moral of the story, expect touts selling you stuff everywhere!
7. White tourists may enjoy some favours!
Now racism is a tricky subject and often left out of blog posts. But I am going to address it here. So, we did notice a slight amount of racism in Bali. Although Balinese, themselves are brown Asians, they seem to favour the white-skinned tourists. For example, when we tried to enter a particular high-end resort, we observed that white tourists were let in without any questions while Indians or other Asians had to answer unwarranted questions from the security personnel. Additional baggage screening at certain places was often mandated depending on the colour of a person's skin. But before you begin to judge the Balinese, do note that we came across instances of racism hardly 3-4 times during our stay in Bali. On most other occasions, the friendly and warm approach of the Balinese people filled our hearts with joy.
8. The Balinese adore Hindus from India!
Now, while the colour of our skin did not always shower us with benefits, our religion very often did. Drivers, tourist guides, waiters and hotel staff were often eager to serve us and interact with us as that provided them an opportunity to learn more about Hinduism as practiced in far-off lands. This show of sweetness and courtesy was not just limited to the hospitality industry. We actually had an endearing conversation on the law of karma with a traffic police officer who had stopped us for a routine licence check! How often have you associated the word 'endearing' with a traffic police officer! Never right? There you go!
9. You run the risk of being stranded at a popular tourist spot!
We noticed that public transportation was unfortunately not available at many tourist places. Ex: You won't find any cabs at the Uluwatu Temple at night after the Kecak Dance performance ends. So in order to avoid being stranded, it is always advisable to have your transportation to and from tourist places pre-arranged.
10. Traffic in Bali may petrify most but probably delight some!
Indians are often skeptical about driving in Europe out of the fear of accidentally violating traffic rules and having to shell out huge fines. But in Bali, traffic rules are highly disregarded and that gave us such a homely driving experience! What enriched our experience further was the quality of roads in Bali. Unlike the roads in India, Balinese roads are smooth and pot-hole free! So go ahead, beat those blues and rent a vehicle or a scooter!
That being said, if you are a westerner, or just someone not used to chaotic traffic conditions, do not drive in Bali!
11. Coffee tasting is taken to another level here!