Bali Curse – Does it really exist?
Social media has its way of making you feel super FOMO. You open Instagram, and all you see are friends, colleagues, and acquaintances, living their best Eat Pray Love lives in Bali. Now that tourism to our favourite Indonesian destination is back in full steam, a lot of us are also planning a romantic getaway to the island with bae.
But then your family and friends say, “huh you not scared of Bali curse meh??”
Ah yes, the much-dreaded Bali curse that any pantang Singaporean would probably have heard of. And now with the added pressure of the highly controversial “law” that unmarried couples cannot piak piak in Bali – couples might rethink their travel plans altogether. But is the Bali curse real, and should you be worried about it? We get to the bottom of this mystery.
Bali curse simi sai??
Image credit: Unsplash
TL;DR: going on vacay to Bali with your girlfriend or boyfriend, confirm break up one – especially when you’re not married. But where and when did this myth originate from?
Well, first let’s have a look at Balinese culture. The main religion in Bali is Hinduism – and the Balinese practice a form of Hinduism that also includes elements of Buddhist and animistic beliefs. They believe that everything – from places like their temples, to animals and nature – has a spirit.
Stunning vistas? Yes. Risk of being cursed? Also yes.
Image adapted from: @aracariflights
So folklore has it that a Brahmin prince and princess were visiting from Java. While watching the sunset at the Tanah Lot Temple, they gave in to their primitive biological urges and got intimate. Different strokes for different folks, you know – but still classier than an HDB staircase.
Then, as some men do, the prince ghosted the princess after taking her virginity. Obviously she got pissed tf off and cursed the land, and all unmarried couples who visit are condemned to break up after.
Mind you, all you have to do now is visit with your partner – and you are subjected to the curse. And realistically, it’s impossible to do anything at Tanah Lot these days since it’s crowded with tourists – plus, Airbnbs and hotels in Bali are relatively still cheaper than Hotel 81.
Ok, but does it really affect EVERY couple?
Well, because it’s an urban legend instead of a factually-backed phenomenon, the parameters surrounding the Bali curse are slightly blurry. The exact timeline isn’t known, but some sources say that the curse would probably take effect 6 months later. Most people say that it only affects couples who visit Tanah Lot, while some believe that it applies to sacred sites on the island.
A convo with a friend who was hesitant to go on a trip to Bali with their partner.
On the other hand, many believe that the Bali curse doesn’t affect every couple – and it filters out your intentions in love. Lovebirds with pure intentions get the green light and stay together, while toxic relationships and those who are only dtf won’t make it. It’s basically like matchmaking, but you get help from higher forces. After all, Bali is a spiritual place.
Anyway, because we’re kaypoh, we asked some of our colleagues in the office what they think about the Bali curse.
Maybe the real curse is being subjected to a lifetime of loneliness.
According to the Telegram poll, only 40% believe in the Bali curse – and out of that, a smaller 11% experienced it first-hand. A bigger percentage though, kena cursed to be aloni macaroni – which may just be the real tragedy. And then there are God’s favourites, the chosen ones who went and are still together.
But 40% is still a large number, and we’re curious – why exactly did these people break up, and what does being in Bali have to do with anything? So we poked around, and these were the main reasons we found:
Reason #1: Bali is literally hot people heaven
Bali’s reputation as a paradise coupled with it being super affordable has attracted some of the most beautiful people on earth. Seriously, there’s a hunk or babe on every corner you turn. Coupled with Instagram influencers, gorgeous Russian models, and Aussie surfer boys with more defined 6 packs than Chris Hemsworth, it does affect the bell curve of attractiveness in Bali.
Image credit: Unsplash
So if your partner’s got a wandering eye, and if you’re not secure in your relationship, that’s not gonna bode well. Add boozy parties at Motel Mexicola or Finns Beach Club into the mix, and it’s a recipe for disaster.
According to our intern Brendan, one of his friends got into a fight with his girlfriend because he was ogling a girl – and we don’t blame anyone but him tbh. Yes, we get that it’s only natural to be attracted to others of the opposite gender. But whether you’re in Bali, Singapore, or the far ends of Mongolia, it’s only respectful to not openly check someone else out in front of your partner. Aiyo, control lah.
Reason #2: First time travelling with a partner
Another reason we found is actually a lot more simple than you’d think – incompatibility. Your first trip with a partner is a pretty major milestone. According to a survey by Dating.com, 50% of couples break up after a trip.
So many different factors, such as different travel styles, weird af habits, and even sharing a bathroom can affect something that’s in the early stages, to begin with. And for most Singaporean couples, Bali is one of the more convenient yet romantic first travel destinations.
This very apt sign while walking along Bali’s streets – even Joy Division believe in the curse.
Image credit: Dewi Nurjuwita
A friend, who chose to be kept anonymous, had a tough time in Bali with his ex-girlfriend. “We were fighting about almost everything – from different styles of travel to me sitting on the bed in outside clothes, and even what to eat for dinner. She found many things I did that irked her, and vice versa. On the last night, we didn’t even go out because we were having a massive argument in the hotel room.”
Reason #3: Red flags intensified
It really be like that sometimes.
Image credit: Zao
I’m sure a lot of us can attest to this – but sometimes, especially after the honeymoon period, you take off your rose-tinted glasses and finally see the red flags. Yes, even if it takes a trip to Bali to make you realise that.
Our colleague Aida experienced it first hand: “The scrambler we rented got stuck in the sand at this really quiet beach because he wanted to show off a weird type burnout type of trick. The back of the bike was wedged really deep in and he was yelling at me to ‘be helpful’ even though I already told him NOT to do the trick because of this exact reason.”
Dude really wanted to act as the main character.
Image credit: Unsplash
“His disregard for safety was also intensified because ‘we’re in Bali, relax lah’, he says as he does wheelies with me as pillion.”
Reason #4: Break-ups are a part of life
And perhaps the most common reason for it all is – nothing. Some people are just incompatible, and there are a myriad of reasons why a couple would break up.
For J, her boyfriend wasn’t even on the trip – but she got broken up with via text. “I went to Bali with my friends, and halfway through the trip, I started getting food poisoning. I told my then-boyfriend about it over text, but somehow he ended up breaking up with me. So I ended up just being really sick while being broken up with while on my vacation.”
“I’m not sure if it’s the Bali Curse or if I have terrible taste in men. But it does seem a bit sus that everything was fine until I went to Bali.”
Call us crazy, but this guy kinda makes sense.
Image adapted: Reddit
Our friend Alyssa broke up with her boyfriend half a year after their Bali trip. “Nothing really happened during our Bali trip. We just did the usual Kuta, Ubud, Seminyak. Nothing, in particular, went wrong with our relationship during the trip – no fights, no major disagreements.”
Could it be the Bali Curse? She doubts so – their relationship was still in its young phase so it could have gone anywhere during or after the trip. “I don’t think it could’ve been some Bali spirit cursing us from thousands of kilometres away. For people who did break up, I think it could’ve been a case of the usual travel conflict – when you spend more time together under stress, you fight more.”
But hold up, there are also success stories
Don’t lose hope in love just yet. The good news is that Alyssa is one of the lucky ones, because they eventually got back together. She’s not the only one, either – for some, a trip to Bali was what brought them together. After all, with beautiful landscapes, aesthetic resorts, and lots of adventurous activities that put the typical dinner date to shame, is there a more romantic destination?
If you’re really lucky, you get to leave Bali sans broken heart – and lots of cute couple pics to show for it.
Image credit: Unsplash
Diana tells us: “5 years ago I met someone on Tinder while travelling in Australia – one month later we casually mentioned meeting up in Bali. Being in my yolo phase, I decided to just go for it – after all, we weren’t even in a relationship so the Bali Curse couldn’t break us up. The trip went well and we realised we actually complement each other in so many ways. We even watched the sunset from Pura Batu Mejan, a temple in Canggu that faces the ocean.”
Unlike the Brahmin prince and princess, no temple hanky panky is involved. Perhaps that’s why they’re still rather unaffected by the curse. “We still live in different countries and an LDR is off the cards, so we’re not in a relationship. But we’ve travelled together a few times since and we’ll be meeting again in another city this month. Sometimes the best way to get to know someone is just to travel with them.”
The view from Pura Batu Mejan. Come on, it’s like trying to summon the Bali Curse on purpose.
Image credit: Diana
That sentiment seems to hold true for 2 others. Our sub-editor Aditi was with her now-husband for 3.5 years when they decided to travel to Bali. “The trip happened shortly after I returned from Sydney – during which we were in a long-distance relationship for 1.5 years – so it actually felt a bit like a honeymoon period again.”
Did she realise he was the one she wanted to marry?
“Yes, I was secretly hoping he was going to propose soon. We had travelled a few times already before this trip so there was no particular incident that made me learn something new about him. But I remember having conversations about our future and both of us being on the same page that we were in it for the long run.”
Image credit: Aditi Kashyap
Aditi isn’t the only one who got married to her Bali bae. Our editor Jessica went on a first trip with her then-boyfriend, just 6 months into dating. “In fact, we had our wedding in Bali – 4 years after we started dating.”
So.. is the Bali curse real?
We hate to disappoint you, but there’s no one conclusion. Some couples we’ve spoken to have broken up during or after their trip to Bali, some split up and got back together, and others got married.
We’re not here to debunk the curse entirely – after all, so many people have experienced it. So there has to be some truth to it, right? Bali is a very sacred place, and with every other destination around the world, travellers should respect the land they’re on.
A more logical explanation would be compatibility. Travelling with someone can either set a strong foundation for your relationship or shine a spotlight on someone’s flaws that are non-negotiable to you. Sometimes, you just get the ick for no particular reason. Dating is hard as it is, and it’s easy to blame incompatibility or bad dating decisions on folklore.
That said, superstitious folks who are very pantang might still avoid wanna Bali just in case. There are many other destinations around that are great for couples, tropical islands in the region to explore, or even hidden Singapore islands.
Cover image adapted from: @aracariflights