Obviously we know instagram is all a big lie bla bla bla (see: instagram vs real life pics). I think when you're planning a holiday you need to remember that the guide books and the holiday brochures are essentially selling you the destination. Yes, Bali is beautiful. Yes there are 5* hotels all over, but 2 minutes away there are serious areas of poverty and sanitation issues. It's really hard to know what to expect.

I think before the trip I was in a bit of a bubble. I've seen bits of the world, I've been to Berlin, Venice, Barcelona, Amsterdam but always only ever travelled within Europe. Actually scratch that, I'd only ever travelled within 1st world countries. And I don't really know where the line is, but I think I've crossed it now. And the bubble bursts, and the reality of world becomes clear and it really is a culture shock. It's very different. I was very sad to see  bare-foot little boys in rags approach the taxi begging for change. And the women are desperate to sell their souvenirs and the taxi drivers are fighting for jobs. 

The minute we stepped out of the airport, having just watched us get our £200 exchanged into a fat wad of 3 million rupiah, the drivers were aggressively keen to carry our bags and demand a large tip from each of us. The minute we said no, the smiles were gone and they weren't calling us beautiful english girls anymore. We rushed into our hotel's taxi quickly for fear of being beaten up or mugged. That was when me and my friends then realised we weren't in kansas any more. 

I feel like it would be a bit harsh to say that Bali is dirty, but basically Bali is dirty. The levels of sanitation are different from what you may be used to. Hence the title of the post, because why would you Instagram photos of dirty slummy streets and the backseats of smelly taxis. 

Bali on Instagram

And you'll probably get food poisoning! I managed to pick up a stomach infection while I was there, caused from bacteria in local food which I then need antibiotics for. And it was really really horrible! I wasted a good few days curled up in a ball, sweating and shivering and googling how much a flight home would be. I thought it best to live off crisps and oreos after that. I'll save the details but I wish someone had told me to google "How to avoid getting Bali Belly" before I set off. 

And if you are planning a trip to Bali, then do your research. Spend less time looking at cute cafes on pinterest (me three months ago) and research practical things. We learnt that we were spending three times as much booking taxis through hotels than downloading an app called grab - it's basically uber. We quickly became much better at negotiating and haggling. Practice your "Don't come near me, I have a rape alarm" face. Buy a rape alarm. Bring a bag that zips up, use the hotel safe, bring lots of bug spray and also bring after bite, because you will get bitten no matter how much you put on. 

Don't let this put you off. It's all a good experience is what my mum would say. I'd still recommend going and seeing it for yourself. Bursting the bubble you may be living in makes you appreciate what you have here at home.


  1. "bit's of the world"? What? No. Please fix. Otherwise a very good post.

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