gratuitous gratuity

Tonight I’m having dinner alone at one of Ubud’s most upscale restaurants, Cafe des Artistes. According to my clever husband, it’s also Liz Gilbert’s (author of Eat Pray Love) and her husband’s favorite restaurant in Bali, so of course I must go. Go ahead and be jealous, ladies – a man who pays attention to detail. He also takes pause to inform me, EPL’s biggest fan, that she goes by Liz, not Elizabeth. Just so I know. Since this is really the first proper restaurant I’ve dined at in Bali – all meals thus far have either been within the confines of my lodging or at a nearby warung (think roadside grub) – I figured it might be time to research tipping etiquette in Bali. Yes, one day before I go home. Up til now I’ve just been tipping “waiters,” drivers and other staff somewhere in the neighborhood of 10%, which is pretty much my international standard for tips. Upon Googling the level of accuracy of this behavior, it seems I have been overtipping by approximately 10%. The main people you would think to tip here by American standards are your various drivers and your waitstaff. Well, with the drivers here you negotiate a fare before you leave so they already have their profit worked in. And restaurants tend to add on 5-10% as a service charge for the staff (this is true for most places, but not all). So this is where the American in me can’t let go of my culture. Not only am I an American, which according to the TripAdvisor forums means I recklessly overtip by nature, but I also waited tables for a freakin’ eternity. Surely word has spread by now that Marissa O’Malley is in Bali – all of their daily prayers and offerings are paying off, quite literally. It’s like getting a 10-top of gay men in the States! I can’t even imagine the ceremonies that would ensue if that same 10-top (that means a table of 10; side note: if you didn’t already know that you should quit your job and go wait tables for a year so you learn how to tip) arrived in Bali. Nevertheless, I’m perfectly at peace with my reckless spending over the past couple of weeks since it probably means I’ve “wasted” ten whole dollars. Everything is cheap here as long as you’re not getting your hotel and restaurant recommendations from Prince Shortell. I’m about to pay $50 for easily a $150 meal in the US of A and remember, I’m splurging. Bon apetit!

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