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Traveling gluten free in Bali, Indonesia

Sanur Beach
Sanur Beach, Bali. Courtesy of Joseph Tecza

I stayed in Sanur in Bali and I used your Indonesian Restaurant Card on Bali and it was very helpful.

But I also found out that many Asian people just don't want to say no.

I had breakfast at a restaurant that made GF bread, but served it with butter, that was cut with the same knife they used on the bread for my travel mate, giving me a couple of crumbs on my butter.

And they kept serving a gluten cookie with my coffee, even if I just ordered GF Cake. And when they were out of GF bread one day, they asked if they could give me normal bread. After that I decided to eat the Indonesian breakfast instead.. or the rice cakes that I brought with me "just in case" and no more butter.

That one €0,35 roll of rice cakes gave me a huge advantage at the airport. On the plane you have to fill out a costums form, and write down if you are bringing any food into the country.

(I am a chicken that way, and just saw a National Geagraphic show on Australia airports; what happens when you 'forget tot tell' one item) So, we went to the red lane at costums, a very short line, whilst the green line was an hour long.

I told the customs guy I was carrying one 35 cent pack of rice cakes and .. was out in a few minutes!

In general what they cook in Indonesia is fresh. Spicemix is just that: fresh spices ground in a food processor or mortar and pestle. I stayed away from noodles and double checked all orders ;) (they might get mad, but don't show it that's not polite... but I like it safe!)

For spring rolls they used rice paper and the one time I had a mexican meal (shame on me on Bali) I asked the fajita to be served with a corn tortilla.

All and all a good experience (and the mistake is a part of traveling).

Just one time we sat down, looked at the menu, looked around and didn't trust the place. So we got up and left. (felt realy rude, and the owner was pretty upset, but when I told her I can't eat Gluten, she calmed down). We didn't order even a soda!

There is a couple of bakeries that sell GF bread and an Italian restaurant serves GF food if you let them know before you come. Some restaurants have GF meals marked on the menu, but I kept asking if it was really really GF.

Next trip: Tunisia.. Can't wait! But I will bring a bit more products just in case.


Wherever you're going, remember to take a free gluten free restaurant card with you.

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