10 Things I’ve learnt about Balinese culture from Ubud locals

After spending only four nights in Ubud, Bali; I have learnt a lot about the Balinese culture. From chatting to our Eat, Pay, Yoga group’s taxi drivers, cooking class teacher, cycle tour guide and people on the streets – I have learnt the following ten facts about Bali and their special culture.

Coriander – same, same but different

Unlike Thai cuisine, Balinese dishes include coriander seeds and no leaves.


Popular sports include football and badminton. Since I heard this fact, I have seen a few football games and have seen many badminton courts scattered across villages.

Natural remedies for Bali Belly

To remedy ‘Bali Belly’, have a cup of ginger tea. If you’re having the opposite problem, eat some papaya to get your bowels moving.

The three month rule

For the first three months of every Balinese child’s life, they are not allowed to touch the ground as it is believed that the ground has bad spirits that will make their infants sick.

Balinese pronunciation

When Balinese locals speak English, they pronounce “F” as “P” and “V” as “B”.

It’s all about Karma

Karma is integral to Balinese culture in all aspects of life. It is bad karma for children to complain or whine to their mothers as it hurts their hearts and is bad karma. As such, Balinese children have great respect for their mothers. They’re also extremely cute and happily wave at you as you pass by.

Kopi Luwak Catpooccino

The well-known Kopi Luwak coffee (Have you seen the movie The Bucket List?) is produced by an Asian palm civet that has a cat’s body and fox-like face. The civet eats coffee berries which ferment in its stomach before letting nature take its course. The civet’s faeces is then rinsed with warm water about ten times before it is turned into a cup of coffee. Catpooccino anyone?

Men massage their cocks

Balinese men proudly stroke their roosters to help build muscle strength and aggression. They then strap knives to the rooster’s legs to prepare them for a cock flight. Each pair fights for about two minutes until one passes on. Needless to say, we’re all vegetarian this trip and so far none of us has experienced ‘Bali Belly’.

Mass cremations

In poorer villages, the community perform mass cremations every five years. Because all Balinese people traditionally have to be cremated and it’s very expensive, people are wrapped in a white sheet and are buried in a box-like coffin. Every five years, the bodies are dug up and cremated. On average 45 people are cremated each five years in an elaborate cremation ceremony.

Morning offerings

Every morning Balinese women place offerings in front of their home and place of work. Offerings usually take the form of small square banana leaf trays filled with fresh flowers, bits of food and incense. The women spend hours each day preparing their offerings for the following day. 

 Pic credit: Katie Wilter

Who would have guessed?

Bali really is a special place. I’ve always said that the most friendly population I’ve ever met reside in Nova Scotia, Canada, but now I think the Balinese claim that status. Their warm hearts, good karma blessings (sometimes in the form of discounted or free purchases) and friendly smiles need to reach the rest of the world.

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6 Responses to 10 Things I’ve learnt about Balinese culture from Ubud locals

  1. Interesting. I wish I had tried that coffee!

  2. Mandy Harris says:

    This is brilliant Katie !! Evokes such good memories …. need to go back 😍😍

  3. Wow Katie! Super impressed with your good ear and memory! Thanks for summing things up so neatly. I’m planning on showing this to my parents when they ask about Bali. Enjoy your travels!

  4. Pingback: 5 Coolest Airbnb Properties in Asia | Wish You Were Here

  5. Pingback: Eat, Play, Yoga in Bali – The Aftermovie 2015 | eyehearttravel

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