I will preface this by saying that I am not, nor is anyone, the perfect traveller. I make cultural faux pas and never learn enough of the foreign language, but at least I don't go out of my way to be an asshat in a beautiful place that has welcomed me.
During 2014, 1,128,533 Australian tourists arrived in Indonesia. And it's no surprise -- the stunning country is only around seven hours away (Perth, you're lucky, at just three and a half hours). Plus, it's incredibly cheap.
However, just because we leave our country of residence doesn't mean we should leave behind all our manners, common sense and altruism. Travelling is as much about relaxing and forgetting the days of the week as it is about connecting with the local people and exploring the unfamiliar.
We all have different goals when travelling, but please, PLEASE don't be the type of Australians everyone overseas thinks we are. (Yes, Balinese people actually laugh and say, "you guys drink too much" when you tell them your nationality.)
Here are five (but definitely not all) ways to not be a bogan traveller in Bali.
1. Don't get absolutely plastered on the plane.
I get it, a few wines help ease the nerves and get you excited for your holiday, but don't down your whole bottle of duty-free vodka and take three sleeping tablets -- and yell loud enough about it so the whole plane can hear your stupidity. Also, don't get up from your seat every five seconds to tell your mates down the front how 'maggot' you are. They don't care, we don't care, no one cares.
2. Treat Balinese people with respect.
Yes, the incessant asking of "transport?!" can get annoying, but it's not a reason to be rude or offer them one-hundredth of their asking price. If this was your sole income, you'd probably be asking relentlessly too. A simple "no, thank you" is all it takes. Likewise, if you buy something from a supermarket, or someone generally does something out of their way for you, say hello and thank you. You are not better than them because you can afford the flight trip there.
3. Don't litter.
Surely when you're in Australia you don't think the correct place for your plastic bags and beer bottles is on the beach, so don't do the same thing overseas. If you want to keep going back to the Bali you know and love, it's best not to leave a trail of your rubbish behind you.
4. Don't buy or wear a Bintang t-shirt.
We get it, you're drinking a lot of beer. Although we're all looking for something minimal to wear in this muggy heat, you might not realise that if you're Bintang-clad you are associating yourself with some truly hectic bogans. At one point, while we were waiting for a fast boat, we overheard one Australian man (one beer in each hand, of course, because 40 minutes without one is just too long) complain to another because his wife didn't pack his suitcase like his charming mate's wife did and thus "needed a new one like yours". *facepalm*
5. Make an effort to communicate with the locals whose country you are in.
If you look back on your Bali holiday and can't remember one time that you left your friends and spoke to some locals for any reason other than for food, alcohol and cigarettes, it's a good sign you didn't so much travel as move your night club to another country. You will be surprised at how enriched your travels will be if you simply ask a local about themselves. One Balinese man told me and my boyfriend about his family and his struggles in the hugely competitive transport industry, how he grew up in Sumatra and about the orangutans (which, translated, means 'person of the forest'). It pulled us out of our holiday bubble and made us realise that each and every person has their own story to tell, and that we have a responsibility to at least hear some of them.
This post first appeared on June 16, 2016.