Bali may be a lovely resort destination with the sun, sea and beautiful villas, but it’s also a place with unique culture and tradition.
And of course, with tradition comes many myths and legends that are passed on to generation to generation, and you may even have heard of some of them!
But what you may be curious to know is, is there actually some truth behind these myths?
Well, we’re here to tell you (and also debunk) some common Balinese misconceptions (or myths). Things are not always what they appear to be!
1. Unmarried Couples who travel to Bali will break up
This myth has been circulating on travel forums online, and has left many potential travellers to Bali a little unsettled.
Word has it that all unmarried couples who travel to Bali by themselves are cursed to break up, and many people have testified that the curse comes true.
But how did it actually come about?
The story, or urban legend, goes like this: Many centuries ago, a young prince and princess were in Bali and very much in love.
Unfortunately, the prince was actually a horrible person, and after having relations with the princess, he left her.
So, in the most alarming tantrum Bali had ever seen, the princess cursed the island, dooming all unmarried couples who visit it.
Seems a little unbelievable? Despite the numerous stories claiming to prove this right, we’re calling it a myth!
According to random survey by Wedding-Bali.com, a whooping 80 percent of couples remain happily married after they have travelled together to Bali!
Unmarried couples travel to Bali all the time – it’s a beautiful destination for people of all background and relationship status.
And you never know, Bali might actually be where you meet your new prince charming!
2. The Balinese Are Conservative
When in Bali, the locals strut around in traditional clothes; the island is dotted with numerous temples and shrines, following a calendar filled with ceremonies and celebrations.
So you’d think the Balinese are pretty conservative.
But actually, if you’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting any Balinese, you’ll know this to be very wrong.
Do you remember the annual Kissing Ceremony, where young Balinese takes part in communal kissing? To the conservatives, that itself can be seen as a scandalous event.
And contrary to popular belief, the Balinese love dirty jokes, in all shapes and sizes.
Perhaps it’s not a good idea to tell them to strangers or older people, but if you’re having a laugh with Balinese friends, you’ll notice a definite trend towards some very funny, scandalous jokes.
We don’t want to elaborate too much here, but let’s just say that there are lots of fruit references!
3. Stepping On Offerings Is Bad Luck
If you’ve ever been to Bali before, you’ll likely have experienced the sinking feeling of taking an unforeseen step onto an offering.
And then comes the panic – surely you’ve somehow done something disrespectful to the gods and spirits, and they’ll all be coming to get you?
Although intentionally stepping on offerings on purpose is very disrespectful, the Balinese fully expect people to accidentally step, kick and generally pulverise offerings left on the street.
It doesn’t matter too much, as the essence, or the spirit, of the food and flowers are taken by the gods as soon as the offerings are laid down.
But if you can, it’s still better to avoid stepping on them!
4. The Balinese Don’t Celebrate New Year
For anyone in Bali around the end of December, you might have noticed that the celebratory mood doesn’t extend out much beyond the tourist centres.
But that doesn’t mean that the Balinese don’t celebrate New Year.
The Balinese New Year is actually in March.
And New Year’s Eve is a night of crazy noise-making (that will turn even the most party-hardened among you deaf) – not so much for celebratory purposes but to scare away evil spirits.
Then, New Year’s day is greeted with absolute silence.
Yes, we mean absolute silence: there’s not a single car on the road, or a plane in sight – the whole island shuts down.
Why? To trick the evil spirits into thinking that Bali is empty of course!
And so, it’s believed that the spirits will leave the island alone, until the next year.
5. The Balinese always look younger than they really are
Haven’t you always wondered how Balinese women in their thirties look entirely as though they are in their twenties?
How can it be that all of them take such great care of their youthful skin?
You may start wondering – is it genetic, a particular product they use, or even some sort of supernatural charm?
Neither. Their beauty secret?
Actually, it’s all because of the way they count their days, literally.
The Balinese use two separate calendars (not including the global Gregorian calendar) – one is a lunisolar calendar that starts on New Year’s day, in March, while the other is a numeric calendar, made up of only 210 days!