Unless you are definitely sure that your health
coverage at home will cover you in Bali and
Lombok, you should take out travel insurance -
bring a copy of the policy as evidence that
you're covered. Get a policy that pays for
medical evacuation if necessary.
Some policies specifically exclude 'danger-
ous activities', which can entail scuba diving,
renting a local motorcycle and even trekking.
Be aware that a locally acquired motorcycle
licence isn't valid under some policies.
Internet centres are common anywhere there
are tourists in Bali. Expect to pay 200Rp to
500Rp per minute for access. Excellent places
can be found in South Bali and Ubud (p175).
At these centres you can download your dig-
ital camera or burn CDs. You can also net-
work your laptop. Elsewhere, speed varies
but is often slow.
Many hotels have internet centres for their
guests. In-room broadband access, however,
is limited to the newest of the international
hotels, as noted in the individual reviews. In
South Bali wi-fi access in cafés is increasingly
common and is often free.
Internet access on Lombok tends to cost
400Rp to 500Rp per minute. However, outside
of Mataram and Senggigi, wherever you go in
Lombok, internet access is painfully slow.
LEGAL MAT TERS
Gambling is illegal (although it's common,
especially at cockfights), as is pornography.
The government takes the smuggling, using
and selling of drugs very, very seriously. Once
you've been caught, and put in jail, there is
very little that your consulate in Bali (if there's
one) can do for you. You may have to wait for
up to six months in jail before you even go to
trial. See p333 for additional dire details.
Generally, you are unlikely to have any en-
counters with the police unless you are driving
a rented car or motorcycle (see p350).
Some governments (including the Austral-
ian government) have laws making it illegal
for their citizens to use child prostitutes or en-
gage in other paedophiliac activities anywhere
in the world. Foreigners have been prosecuted
and penalties are severe.
also because it offers opportunities to meet
Gay prostitutes are mostly from Java, and
some have been known to rip off their foreign
clients. Gay Balinese men are usually just
looking for nothing more than some adven-
tures, though there is an expectation that the
(relatively) wealthy foreign guy will pay for
meals, drinks, hotels etc.
On Lombok, gay and lesbian travellers
should definitely refrain from public displays
of affection - advice that applies to straight
couples as well. There are gay-friendly places
in Senggigi (p293).
NYEPI - THE DAY OF SILENCE
The major festival for the Hindu Balinese is Nyepi, usually falling around the end of March or
early April. It celebrates the end of the old year and the start of the new one, according to the
saka calendar, and usually coincides with the end of the rainy season.
Out with the Old Year…
In the weeks before Nyepi, much work goes into the making of ogoh-ogoh - huge monster dolls
with menacing fingers and frightening faces - and into the preparation of offerings and rituals
that will purify the island in readiness for the new year. The day before Nyepi, Tawur Agung Ke-
sanga, is the 'Day of Great Sacrifices', with ceremonies held at town squares and sports grounds
throughout the island. At about 4pm, the villagers, all dressed up in traditional garb, gather in
the centre of town, playing music and offering gifts of food and flowers to the ogoh-ogoh . Then
comes the ngrupuk - the great procession where the ogoh-ogoh figures are lifted on bamboo
poles and carried through the streets, to frighten away all the evil spirits. This is followed by
prayers and speeches and then, with flaming torches and bonfires, the ogoh-ogoh are burnt, and
much revelry ensues. The biggest ngrupuk procession is in Denpasar (p170), but any large town
will have a pretty impressive parade.
Gaya Dewata (
0361-234079; Denpasar) Bali's gay
Hanafi (see p101) Kuta-based gay-friendly tour operator
and guide; good for the lowdown on the local scene.
Utopia Asia (www.utopia-asia.com) Not specific to Bali,
but has excellent information about the Bali gay scene.
The following holidays are celebrated
throughout Indonesia. Many of these dates
change according to the phase of the moon
(not by month), and are estimates.
Tahun Baru Masehi (New Year's Day) 1 January
Idul Adha (Muslim festival of sacrifice) February
Muharram (Islamic New Year) February/March
Nyepi (Hindu New Year) March/April
Hari Paskah (Good Friday) April
Ascension of Christ April/May
Hari Waisak (Buddha's birth, enlightenment and death)
Maulud Nabi Mohammed/Hari Natal (Prophet
Mohammed's birthday) May
Hari Proklamasi Kemerdekaan (Indonesian
Independence Day) 17 August
Isra Miraj Nabi Mohammed (Ascension of the Prophet
Idul Fitri (End of Ramadan) November/December
Hari Natal (Christmas Day) 25 December
…And in with the New
The day of Nyepi itself officially lasts for 24 hours from sunrise, and is one of complete inactivity,
so when the evil spirits descend they decide that Bali is uninhabited and leave the island alone
for another year. All human activity stops - all shops, bars and restaurants close, no-one is al-
lowed to leave their home and foreigners must stay in their hotels, and even Bali's international
airport is closed down. No fires are permitted and at night all buildings must be blacked out -
only emergency services are exempt.
Government offices, banks and many shops close the day before Nyepi, and some shops
remain closed the day after. For visitors, Nyepi is a day for catching up on sleep, writing letters
and remaining on their hotel's grounds or at some family-run places in their rooms. Most places
will arrange for meals to be served to guests but should you wander off, the pecalang (village
police) will politely but firmly send you home.
Future Dates of Nyepi
You can eat well with locals for under US$1 or
in touristy places for under US$5. A fabulous
meal prepared by a renowned chef will cost
somewhat more but the constant is that at any
price range the food is generally very fresh, often
quite good and usually much cheaper than you
would pay at home. See p85 for details.
In this topic, restaurants are listed in order of
cheapest to most expensive price for a meal.
GAY & LESBIAN TRAVELLERS
sex couples is acceptable and friends of the
same sex often hold hands, though this does
not indicate homosexuality.
There are many venues where gay men
congregate, mostly in Kuta and Seminyak.
There's nowhere that's exclusively gay, and
nowhere that's even inconspicuously a les-
bian scene. Hotels are happy to rent a room
with a double bed to any couple. Homosexual
behaviour is not illegal, and the age of consent
for sexual activity is 16 years. Gay men in
Indonesia are referred to as homo, or gay, and
are quite distinct from the female impersona-
See Festivals & Events (p336) for additional
holidays. The Muslim population in Bali ob-
serves Islamic festivals and holidays, including
Ramadan. Religious and other holidays on
Lombok are as follows.
Anniversary of West Lombok April 17 - government