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Call me naive, but I wish to believe that the majority of people embarking on extended travels to foreign destinations make genuine efforts to assimilate into the local culture, rather than merely indulging in a photo spree for the sole purpose of inflating their Instagram egos when residing abroad. What such travellers, including myself, may not realise though is that while we might learn a word or two in the local language, attempt to mimic the accent, or buy ourselves traditional garments to blend in at temples, there can also be characteristics that we attain without consciously pursuing them. Some can be delightful, like friends back home noticing that you exude a natural radiance and inability to stop smiling (those who’ve been to Bali would describe this as the default state of the locals), however, others can be, how do I put it, more peculiar.

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For example, just as you declutter your house and throw away things you no longer need or that no longer serve you, I, after a couple of weeks in Bali, also began to get rid of tenses, conjugations, articles, and overall unnecessary words, just to keep my speech simple.

I, food, hungry, where – accompanied by international hand gestures for more context, such as putting imaginary snack into your mouth or rubbing the belly as well as shrugging the shoulders while looking around. The trick is to leave a big enough pause after each word so it’s clear what the core words are and that listeners can fill in the blanks themselves.


Tomorrow. temple. full moon ceremony. today. look. sarong. market. Good price, how much?

Why do we even add all the irrelevant words when we speak, isn’t the above more than clear?

Simply ask: you want? – While pointing at something, or: you like?

That’s it. No “do you want me to buy some mangoes?” Or “do you like my new sarong?”