As in most other areas of Southeast Asia, the majority of purchases made in everyday life are done through bargaining. There appears to be three distinct levels of pricing for the prospective buyer; one for the locals, one for any other Balinese, and one for tourists. Although some tourists may feel at times that they are being ‘ripped off’ if they can’t get the same price as a local, this is basically a fair arrangement in people’s minds here, as it is the local population that will consistently support the local economy, while the tourist is just passing through. Besides, it must be remembered that you are never forced to buy anything, so before entering any bargaining situation, consider how much you feel you ought to pay. If your offered price is not accepted, there is no compulsion to continue at a higher price. But remember, if your price is accepted, you are morally obliged to buy.
Many things are of a fixed price in Bali, especially in some of the larger shops in Denpasar, Bali’s capital. Often a sign Harga Pas – Fixed Prices will be displayed, or the price of the article is marked as it is in shops in the West. For services such as dressmaking, transport hire, etc. agree on a price before commencement of the service. In that way difficult situations that might later emerge can be avoided.
The Balinese village economy has developed in a curiously different way to that which the tourist may be used to. I am referring in particular to the arts and crafts of Bali, designed originally to decorate the temples and courts, in general patronised by the ruling Ksatria caste. With the onslaught of tourism, this patronage has largely been transferred to the souvenir hunter. However, the centres for the production of various handicrafts have largely remained intact. For example, the village of Celuk is filled with silver and goldsmith works, in Mas one finds rows of woodcarving shops, and Ubud is the centre of painters’ schools and galleries. You can purchase these things in other places in Bali, but it is generally more satisfying to be able to see the artists themselves in action in creating their wares.
The village of Bangkiang Sidem, with its close ties to Ubud, also has a heritage of developing skills in the painting area, these skills passed on from father to son. However, due to economic circumstances there are very few locals who can afford to paint. Since the beginning of Klub Kokos’ development we have encouraged the rejuvenation of artistic talents here, and now you can find a number of small outlets selling their creations here, generally at much more reasonable prices than in Ubud. With the opening of the gallery here at Klub Kokos soon, we plan to include a display of examples of the works of the various artists that are our neighbours, with a short biography, to further aid in understanding between an artist, his work and the visitor who is interested in purchasing it.