The sense of balance that many people feel in Bali is one of the reasons that I would put above almost all others as a reason to be here. Despite the problems that affect Bali from all angles, the island is able to pull off an impressive balancing act that needs to be viewed from a few steps back to be truly appreciated.
I have found that in Bali things just have a way of working themselves out in the end, and just about all of the bad experiences are counteracted by the good ones. (more…)
After several years in Bali learning about the language and culture several of my friends like to joke that I’ve “gone native”. Everyone has a different definition of going native and whether it is a positive or negative thing but that’s all relative.
Sure, I eat rice with my hand (right hand only) most of the time. I also don’t bat an eye anymore as I hear someone talking about mystical events while they grip the latest model Blackberry. I have been here long enough to understand exactly why the Balinese and Indonesians do a lot of the things that they do. There is still one thing that I just can’t wrap my head around (or refuse to) and that is Masuk Angin. (more…)
At some point, every long-term, foreign resident of Bali eventually has to leave for one reason or another. In my time here I’ve yet to meet anyone who has spent a substantial amount of time on the island without ever having left, although that is mostly just a visa issue.
As I type this, I am sitting in a hotel room in Bangkok and have been away from Bali for 12 days, the longest period of time I have ever been away from the island since first setting foot there almost 4 years ago. With another 5 days to go until I am set to return home (I fully consider Bali to be “home” by this point), I can’t help but think about all of the differences - both positive and negative – between Bali and other popular SE Asian destinations.
A few weeks ago I created a post about my favorite Babi Guling in Bali and within that week so many people that I knew around Bali contacted me saying that they absolutely had to try it. After a little bit of organization (as organized as things get in Bali), I managed to get a group of 17 people out there to try the legendary 4AM Babi Guling. In that group was my good friend and expat, Trevor Chee-A-Tow who is a professional videographer and owner of Slam Jam, his self-created brand that specializes in high quality videos, many of which highlight the best and most fun parts about living in Bali. Trevor shot some videos of the place while he was there and then turned the footage into an amazing piece of film that really captures the feeling of being there yourself.
Babi Guling is easily the most widely known Balinese dish and tourists have even been known to come to Bali just to sample it. The most famous place for Babi Guling would be none other than Ibu Oka in Ubud but it is it really the best? So far I have never known a Balinese person that says their favorite Babi Guling is the one from Ibu Oka and I would have to agree with them. To be fair, I don’t think the food at Ibu Oka is bad, it is a delicious selection of pork – I just think that as far as Babi Guling goes it is far from the best. Finding the best Babi Guling though takes a lot of work and perseverance however.
Over the years Bali has certainly experienced its share of tragedies at the hands of terrorists, making people weary and on edge as to whether or not that sort of thing will ever happen again. While everyone prays that terrorists will stay far away from Bali, when the terrorists are captured (by any means necessary) residents of the island have reason to celebrate. Late last night was the most recent capture of terrorists on Bali, with 5 suspects being killed during raids on their suspected whereabouts.
It happens all of a sudden with barely enough time for you to prepare anything before running out of your house. An Earthquake hits without warning and is finished almost as soon as it started. Such an earthquake hit Bali today and luckily it was not as devastating as some of the other earthquakes that have hit the archipelago in the past. (more…)
Despite all of the red tape and other things that prevent foreigners from owning land in Bali, there are still thousands of people every year finding a way around it. Some people are buying land as an investment and some are buying to build a house on. Is buying land in Bali really a good idea though? Some recent trends in land prices have many people reconsidering. (more…)
One thing that will need to become like second nature to keep your living expenses down will be the ability to bargain or haggle. Unless the price is clearly marked, like in a supermarket for example, just about everything in Bali is able to be bargained on.
Many people aren’t comfortable with this practice as we don’t do much of it in our home countries, but it is the way of life for people here.
If you already have an even rudimentary command of Bahasa Indonesia then things will be easier as well, as you will be perceived as a little more "in tune" with things.
Just like anything else there are some rules and guidelines to go by to make sure you don’t get ripped off and don’t offend anyone in the process.
Given the chaos that is Bali roads, it is only natural that accidents can happen. It is amazing that there are not more accidents than there are, given the sheer amount of people and style of driving, but they still do happen and the entire situation is much different than that of a western country. The other day I observed an accident happen and took notice of all of the differences.
Usually, it is a bad idea for a foreigner to stop and have a look at what is going on if they observe an accident, due to many accidents being blamed on the foreigner whether they are at fault or not. For this situation, I was already off my motorbike when the accident took place, so I observed from a distance.