How not to offend people in Bali
Bali is Australia's favourite overseas playground but it's also an island steeped in tradition, strong customs and etiquette that may be very different from home.
And it's important we're across it - the last thing we want to do is offend locals during our stay, especially when considering how welcoming and tolerant Balinese people are.
Here are some cultural sensitivities and items of etiquette to be aware of in this Indonesian province, and things to avoid if you don't want to cause an upset.
Don't give or receive with your left hand
In Bali, try to avoid using your left hand when giving or receiving something, or touching another person.
The left hand is used for self-cleaning, such as in the bathroom (Balinese people typically do not use toilet paper and clean with water instead.) Because of that, in polite society, the more pure right hand is preferred for transactions.
Don't be too worried if you're left-hand dominant - Balinese people have become used to the habits of western travellers, so you're unlikely to gravely upset people. But you can always use the phrase "Ma'af tangan kiri", which means "excuse my left hand", if you accidentally use your left hand in a transaction.
Don't enter temples if you're menstruating
You may have seen these confronting instructions on signs outside Balinese temples - women who are menstruating aren't allowed to enter.
It can be a difficult thing for visitors to understand, but blood in a holy place is taboo according to longheld Balinese beliefs, and therefore women who are bleeding are asked to stay outside.
Visitors to temples should have their legs covered. Sarongs are usually available at the entrance of temples so unprepared visitors can cover themselves appropriately.
And never climb on sacred or holy sites, as tourists have made the mistake of doing in the past. That is a sure-fire way of upsetting people in Bali.
Don't touch the head of a Balinese person
It's probably unlikely to happen, but just in case - you should never touch a Balinese person on the head. This includes ruffling a little kid's hair.
In Balinese culture, the head of the body is sacred and touching someone else's is a sign of disrespect.
Don't point with your index finger
It's a non-issue at home in Australia, but in Bali, pointing with the index finger is considered rude and should be avoided. If you need to point to give directions, it's best to use your whole hand, or the thumb of your right hand.
Be careful when walking around streets
You may have noticed offerings of flowers, palm leaves and herbs around the island. These are canang sari - daily offerings made by Balinese Hindu people as a symbol of thanks.
These offerings are placed in all kinds of places - streets and footpaths, entrances to buildings, on stairs.
Stepping or kicking canang sari is considered deeply disrespectful so watch where you're walking so you don't tread on these holy offerings.