Dear Fellow Travelers and Kindred Spirits,
We often hear talk about eco-sustainability but we want to propose that before you think about the earth you first consider human sustainability, the people part of the earth. We define an eco-conscious commitment to green travel as promoting the culture of the areas to which we travel and never leaving having made things worse.
Indonesia has easy to follow etiquette to help us all avoid being disrespectful travelers. We are going into their home and as such should respect their culture and customs. Together we can be model peaceful travelers! Thank you for your consideration and politeness.
1. Body language: it is rude to point with the index finger. Use, instead, your thumb and always your right hand (left is seen as impure). The head is seen as sacred, so avoid patting children’s heads, and refrain from displaying the bottoms of your feet (also seen as impure). Talking with your hands on your hips is a sign of contempt, anger or aggression.
2. Hospitality: handshaking is customary for greetings (again, use only the right hand). A common method when greeting in passing is to press your palm to your friend’s palm in front of your chests, fingers point upwards.
3. Visitors: always welcome with refreshments, but refrain from eating or drinking until host says ‘silakan’ (please begin). When eating with hands, first wash hands, then use right hand only. Sandals and shoes may be left outside the entrance the home.
4. What to Wear: When visiting rural villages, skimpy attire is not considered appropriate.
5. Public affection: touching between members of the same sex is seen as friendship affection, but affection between members of the opposite sex is seldom seen in public.
6. Bargaining: in a Balinese market, haggling over price is not considered impolite, but be pleasant. Bali is not one of those places where making an agitated display of negotiations is considered part of the process. Smile, and insist on the price you want to pay, and if they refuse your price, smile, say ‘thank you’ (terima kasi) and walk away.
1. For both men and women, when entering a temple, wear a sarong around the waist.
2. Please ask permission before taking pictures.
3. Please avoid pointing the soles of the feet towards the shrines if sitting on the ground.
4. And when in doubt just in case you find yourself not knowing the etiquette learn how to say ‘ma’af sekali’ (very sorry).
5. Women on their cycle are not allowed in the temple, nor are women who have recently given birth
Basically, the Balinese only have four first names:
First child: Wayan or Putu
Second child: Made or Kadek
Third child: Nyoman or Koman
Fourth child: Ketut
Fifth child: Start over with Wayan or Putu, and so on….
So don’t get confused if you feel like everyone you meet has the same name!
Balinese Social Structure
Balinese follow the caste system, and there are four castes in Balinese society. Intermarriage between castes is prohibited. Balinese live in villages, and the family is the basic unit of the Balinese society. A society of families who live in a neighborhood village is called a ‘banjar.’
BRAHMANA – priests, scholars
KSATRYA – warriors, nobility
WEISYA – merchants
SUDRA – farmers, laborers (primary population)