The 5 plagues of Bali – who to avoid and why

Ever noticed how the sunshine summons forth some of the more ‘unfavourable’ members of society? Everyone deserves a holiday, but a holiday in a foreign country comes with a certain amount of responsibility. You need to respect the country, as you would expect visitors to respect your own. This is particularly true in countries with such vibrant and longstanding cultures and customs as Indonesia.

The plagues that descend upon the beautiful island of Bali each year are extreme stereotypes, though it is amazing just how many of each you see. Here, you will find a compiled list of the main offenders that grate the nerves of average Joe Travelman and whom should be avoided at all costs.

The Brit on Tour

Photo credit: Hassan Kardous

Most frequently spotted – Poppies 1 and 2 or Gili Trawangan. Rare sightings have been recorded on Gili Air, stumbling around obliviously and announcing: “wait, this isn’t the party one is it?”

Drunk, fightey and ignorant; this copy and paste collection of twenty-somethings have travelled to some of the far reaches of the world but have hardly experienced any of it. They have come straight from Khoa San Road and are planning a week in Kuta before a fortnight in Gili Trawangan. They head straight for the busiest backpacker hostel and have their entire week’s eating and drinking itinerary booked for them at the front desk. The males are distinguished by their tiny legs and head sandwiching a gigantic torso; pock-speckled backs from steroid abuse; and matching tribal tattoos that mark them as part of a new wave tribe: The Brit On Tour.

The Brit on Tour is nocturnal by nature, usually staying up until the wee hours on a cocktail of M150 and cheap booze buckets. Those who manage to see sunlight often burn spectacularly and can sometimes be found shivering their sun-blushed bodies through a bout of serious sunstroke.

Luckily, The Brit on Tour announces their arrival in the various tourist pockets of Bali with ridiculous war cries of “Who are ya?!” and can be easily avoided due to their stand out attire consisting of various versions of South-East Asian beer vests and luminous short shorts. They all appreciate ‘the bants’ and ‘getting lairy’ and can be found following each other around, led by a Pied Piper of bar crawls. Hopefully the Grimm tale will one day come true and a heroic piper will lead them into a cave to let them fend for themselves for the rest of their holiday.

The pack will gradually diminish throughout the evening as the males grunt their way into the arms of a mate. Any male who fails to find a mate by nights-end will usually become rabid, turning on his fellow Brits and hunting for a brawl.

Females who haven’t shacked up by 3am can be found falling around the streets, straining against skirts that battle to hold in alcopop-borne muffin tops or flashing g-strings that have been lost forever to the flabby mire of oblivion.

Favourite watering hole – Anywhere with free or heavily discounted booze

The Aussie Abroad

Photo credit: Ricardo Bernardo

Most frequently spotted – Bartering the price of a Bintang in Kuta or taking advantage of their incredible exchange rate in the slightly-too-classy for them: Seminyak.

Now, don’t get your under-chunders in a blunder Aussies. I’m not talking about all of you. In fact, most of you are fair dinkum and our very own editor happens to hail from the merry old land of Oz. I’m talking very specifically about a certain tribe, those that tend to pack together and overrun a place, doing as they please and expecting the locals to bend to their every whim.

The younger generation swarm around the Poppies lanes in Kuta, hounding anyone who isn’t Australian and asking them just why this is the case? The volume that these individuals can reach without ever saying anything of value is astonishing. They will be your best mate if you believe in the four holy elements: Beer, meat, AFL and backwards trucker caps.

They can buy 200 cigarettes for the price of 10 back home, so you know what? They damn well will do. Every morning. And they will make it their mission to get through them in a day. The rest of the daily groceries are a 6 pack of medium strength lager, a 6 pack of double strength lager and a yoghurt, you know, for the bones.

The older generation can be just as fascinating. I recently saw a senior bloke quite ironically cracking open a beer and lighting a cigarette for breakfast in a cafe named Health Cafe. After two beers he decided it was time to call a local shop and insist they send a crate to his hotel room. Each to their own, but the man’s ignorant fuming and repetitions of “DO YOU UNDERSTAND ENGLISH” in thick Australian drawl earns him a place on this list.

Favourite watering hole – Wherever is playing ‘the game’. Preferably serving beer from 9 am.

The Rich Hippy

Barbie Hippy

Most frequently spottedUbud.

The Rich Hippy can be found all over Bali but will instinctively gravitate toward the Ubud region, much like the infamous herons of Petulu. The Heron first began coming to the region after a communist massacre in 1965 and their odd migratory patterns have remained relatively unexplained ever since. No-one has ever been able to explain the Rich Hippy’s migration habits either, though this is mainly because nobody cares.

The Rich Hippy is a brain-melting mashup of contradictions. They drink cheap, natural wellbeing potions like kombucha tea and aloe vera by day then quaff champagne and smoke expensive thin cigarettes by night.

They dress in silk rags, because: irony, and expect doors to be held open and traffic to slow for them, with a sense of entitlement that only daddy could have paid for. They swap partners because that’s what you did in the sixties, then they fume and feud because they never learnt to share.

They float around on a cloud of their own smugness and smirk knowingly at each other through a veil of superiority that keeps noses held high and eyes half-closed.

They bring their own ‘beats’ to each bar and consider themselves the new wave of DJ, then they clear the dance floor by playing a forty minute long electro-eulogy that only they know how to dance to, and each Rich Hippy dances to a different tempo of the same song.

The following is the kind of scenario you may encounter with the Rich Hippy. Sadly, this isn’t hypothetical:

A young lady, lets call her Lana Dull Ray, squirms and hugs herself to the music in the way kids do when they pretend they are snogging someone. Her movements are horrendously off-beat and, in claiming a large portion of the dance floor as her own, the entire bar is forced to cringe through every jarring step of anti-dance that she makes. Every once in a while she glances at the mirrored wall of the bar to readjust the feathers in her ironically high-maintenence ‘earth mother’ hair.

A small pack of Rich Hippies wiggle their way to the dance floor to join our hero. The alpha, a man wearing a vest that covers just one shoulder, leads with the plaited ponytail and lets the body follow. He circles Lana in a fitful display of body pops and silly walks, which the lesser hippies seem to understand as a sign of ownership. A couple of the most offensively arrogant hippies then split from the pack to sit at the table next to me and spout:

“I only really listen to crunchy grime beats from a small town in northern India. The scene there is just really so far ahead of the rest of the world.”

“Yaaa?”

“Nyaaaar, of coouurse… I just think thats the way music is evolving now. We’re kind of in a world of redefining music, transcending what we generally consider music to be.”

Meanwhile, Alpha Hippy has lost interest in Lana, and seemingly anything but the flow of artistic energy his dancing has unleashed. The whole bar becomes his stage and he is going to dance, goddamit! Even if his sweaty flailing leads him to arrogantly perch his hands on the end of your table and hippy head-bang his ponytail around like a greasy nunchuk.

I’ve never so strongly felt the urge to punch someone who has technically done nothing wrong. Maybe that’s The Brit Abroad coming out in me.

The Rich Hippy doesn’t eat meat unless its a full moon, and their diet mainly consists of things that can only be grown on a small pacific island off Fiji or a handful of seeds that have been passed through a unicorn, therefore costing roughly the same as a caviar and T-bone surf and turf. Because: money.

Favourite watering hole – Anywhere that requires payment for use of a table or sells cocktails with vegetables in them. Also, Yoga Barn if they want to ‘detox’, though there isn’t enough spirulina in the world that can cure toxic arrogance.

The Clueless Backpacker

Backpacker

Most frequently spotted – Poppies 1 or 2 in Kuta or Gili Trawangan.

Ripped off from the moment they touch down, the Clueless Backpacker blunders around with a striking face of naivety. Airport taxis overcharge them, then drop the poor buggers half a mile from their destination to avoid venturing down a one way street. They fall for the ‘Same Same’ schtick every time they purchase something that isn’t quite what was expected, and they are still a little too shy and unpracticed to demand a refund.

The Clueless Backpacker often travels with a mate. The males can be found carrying both heavy bags and furiously checking maps or guidebooks while the female asks everyone for directions in terrible foreigner speak. This ritualistic performance devolves very quickly into heated but hushed arguing.

Red-faced and near tears, with a backpack on the front and back, the unfortunate Clueless Backpackers can be spotted drifting from their path as they are guided into one of the first hellholes they come across by a particularly charming and pushy tout.

They can’t walk down Poppies without booking an overpriced and underwhelming ‘Luxury’ boat to the Gillis or a ‘VIP’ bus to Ubud. They display an immense amount of pride when they manage to haggle a pair of Roy Boy sunglasses down from 200,000 to 180,000 rupiah, only to be offered the exact same pair for 30,000 halfway down the road.

The Clueless Backpacker is easy to spot because everybody was once that sap. Within the week they will have a backpackers tattoo from the moped crash that has cost them over half of their entire six week travel budget.

Favourite watering hole – Anywhere with free wifi, so they can buy one small water to share and try and get in touch with the insurance company that washed their hands of them the moment they stepped off the plane.

The Surf Dude/Dudette

Photo credit: JD Hancock

Most frequently spottedCanggu.

Bali is a surf haven and rightly so. And don’t let me discourage you from heading out here to get your surf on, theres a fantastic community and so many places that work around the surf lifestyle. But the Surf Dude/Dudette takes the lifestyle a little too far.

Conversations between Surf Dude/Dudettes quickly devolve into a series of elongated grunts and hums. Everything is “gnaaarrr” or “shreeed” until the conversation feels like duelling banjos between Bill and Ted and the Honey Badger. Bodies are ridiculously bronzed and tight. Hair has two colours: blonde and dark blonde, and two lengths: long and kind of long.

When not surfing they are talking surf, reading surf magazines or sifting through endless shelves of very similar billabong shorts. They never wear a shirt, even at night. The older ones stay the same, with incredibly well toned bodies well into their middle years, but now they drag round a brood of Surf Sprogs that are ridiculously talented at the age of five and spout new words that even the Surf Dude can’t understand.

Favourite watering hole – I can only presume they survive on saltwater as they are almost always spotted in the sea or on their way to the sea. Also, any bar in Canggu.

So…

Please, don’t be ashamed of having no idea how to travel or of being a Brit or an Aussie or a surfer or a hippy. Be ashamed of those who are ruining your good name. Sadly, there are no known repellents available for the plagues of Bali and you will probably stumble across most of them at any given time of year on the island. You’ve been warned.