Same, same but different – Introduction to bargaining and Balinese custom

Table of Contents

The first excursion, compulsory for all of the students, took place in Pasar Sanglah in Denpasar, a marketplace next to the university campus.

Markets, or ”Pasars” as they are called in Bahasa Indonesian, have an important role in Balinese everyday life. In markets you probably find the cheapest food, textiles and electronics or whatever you might need that you didn’t believe you needed. Markets also serve an important social aspect in life. Families come here to meet relatives and other friends and spend some nice afternoon time together.

student visiting traditional market in bali

Bargaining is not only recommended when doing business with Indonesians, it is a necessary part of the local custom. The final price can be reduced a lot, depending how patient you are during the negotiation process. Never forget to use a friendly smile, since it might save you money in the end!

Students were given a lecture about some of the important words and phrases they might need to use in the market. Already knowing the numbers and polite sentences in Bahasa was a huge advantage! The marketplace during the midday heat is not the most optional time for doing any shopping. Despite this little inconvenience, all the students seemed to find what they were looking for!

bargaining in local market

The task was to bargain a good deal for a traditional Balinese costume that is required in the final graduation ceremony, but also in other occasions that are related to the Balinese customs like temple visits or a wedding. Traditional costumes are different for men and women. The common garment for both sexes is a sarong, worn by both men and women. Sarongs are basically a piece of fabric tied up so that it covers the lower body parts. Men commonly wear a festive t-shirt with the sarong and woman wear Kebaya that are often made from snug lace fabric. There are huge markets for traditional clothing, and the market prices for these traditional wears is relatively low. The whole set can be obtained for the price of Rp.200 000, roughly 13 euros.

balinese traditional clothes have many variety colors

While our western students may be used to more moderate colours, traditional Balinese costumes can use a wide variety of colours. Quite often you can see men wearing white outfits, but the use of specific patterns may vary from one village to another. An important part of the men’s traditional wear is the Udeng – a certain type of head dress. Udeng have many different styles and they complete the outfit in a dashing way!

Balinese traditional costumes are widely used in everyday life. It is common to see the whole family well dressed up on the way to the temple ceremony. Even the smallest children are proudly wearing the traditional wear.

After the sweaty fitting session, students headed back to the campus where lecturers and local students gave instructions for dressing up. This was also a perfect Instagram moment: hundreds of neatly dressed westerners looking gorgeous indeed! Local students were amused while explaining the tricks for dressing up.

fitting session, local students gave instructions for dressed up
balinese traditional wear in white

Excursion for Balinese customs is compulsory for everyone; this caused a little hassle when everyone was fitting and dressing at the same time. In the end I noticed mostly happy and satisfied faces all around. As I said earlier, everyone who wants to experience the Balinese culture should at least own a sarong, which is needed to visit many holy and sacred places like temples which can be found in every corner of Bali!

students wearing balinese traditional clothes
Students pose by clasping their palms and wearing traditional clothes