Living in Bali
Bali has a way of infiltrating your heart. Once you've been there, you're never really the same again. Maybe it's that it offers a vision of how the world COULD be if had the will - a living garden manual, where technology and Western-style speed wash over daily life like water off a duck's back.
The Indonesian island of Bali has seen huge changes over the last fifty or so years, and particularly during the last decade. Fortunately, most tourism development has been concentrated in a narrow coastal strip, with the rest of the Island remaining idyllically peaceful.
In the early 70s Madé's Losmen near Kuta Beach was one of a just a handful (OK, maybe two hands full) of basic beach hotels. Now, an unbroken chain of noise-pollution drowns the roar of the surf from Tuban near the airport a full 15 km (10 miles) north along the coast to the newly-emerging beach-strip of Canggu. Kuta Beach , the "capital" of Bali holidayland, is a jumble of wall-to-wall hotels, restaurants and craft shops, with the only available dimension in which to build being up.
Even at the top Western-style hotels, little bamboo-leaf trays holding flowers and incense are still offered to the gods early every morning, to propitiate any spirits who might inadvertently have been offended during the night. Outside the Indonesian Government offices, staff make daily offerings at a little shrine in the grounds. And while the money-changers have grown ever more cunning and rapacious, they still manage a shy smile as they're ripping you off.
Another big change has emerged: the growth in the number of expatriates living in Bali. To cater for the influx, a virtual "expat" community has grown up within/alongside the tourist population. The expats are the ones you can see cycling along Jalan Legian, briefcase hung over the handlebars, en route to the nearest Internet café.
And why not? Living in Bali, at least for a short time, is a great alternative to a mere quick visit. You can bring your work with you, log onto cyberspace for a couple of hours a day, and the rest of the day relax on the beach, or hang out in the many cafés that dot the waterfront and the side streets.
The number of people to whom living in Bali has become a viable lifestyle is growing by leaps and bounds, and still more leaps. To cater for this influx, the Krakatoa cyber café (Jalan Raya Seminyak, opposite Jalan Dhyana Pura) displays a large noticeboard, where properties to lease are advertised and business contacts sought. You can rent a small villa within walking distance of the beach from around Rp 20 million a year ($US50 a week).
It's the old story: location, location... and what was the third one?
Besides the billboards, a great source of information on places to lease or buy is the weekly newspaper Bali Advertiser. Or to line up a property lease before leaving home, try one of the real estate agents with a presence on the Internet. One possible choice is Century 21 Majesti:
One long-term resident of Bali is Milo Migliavacca, who lives with his partner Donaldine and his elderly mother in a large compound near Seminyak Beach. "My name means 'thousands of cows', he says. Back at school all the kids used to tease me about my name, but here in Bali it's just right!"
Migliavacca's compound is punctuated with an octagonal, pagoda-style house, set in superbly landscaped grounds. If there is anyone who doubts that paradise can still be found in Bali, a visit to the Migliavacca home would dispel all doubts.
Newer areas are also opening up to expatriate residents. Canggu Beach, Kerobakan and the tranquil hill town of Ubud are all popular places to buy or rent a house. Top of the range is the palatial new Nusa Dua precinct, on the eastern side of the peninsula that holds most of the tourism areas. Nusa Dua is also the venue for the annual Nusa Dua Festival.
There are also several companies that can advise on setting up businesses in Bali, dealing with bureaucracy and so forth. Further information is given in the Fact File, below.
Even if living in Bali is on your agenda just now, think about the long-term possibilities. Newly-married couples might consider buying a large-ish house, with a view to later taking children there for school holidays. As many visitors will attest, there are few problems and many wonderful rewards in bringing kids to Bali.
Above all, note that the political upheavals of the last couple of years have only marginally affected Bali. With the return of relative stability throughout Indonesia, Bali can only continue to grow and prosper.
Some good bargains can be negotiated, from around $US20 a day for a single/double room. Some suggested choices are:
Sarinande Beach Inn (tel and fax +62 361 730383), in Jalan Sarinande, off Dhyana Pura. Note that rates are much lower than those mentioned in the guidebooks.
Hotel Sing Ken Ken (tel +62 361 730980, fax 730535; E-mail email@example.com)
If you want to be amongst the action of central Kuta, try any of the garden guest-houses in Poppies Lanes I, II or III (which run perpendicular to the main through roads). Try, for example Suji Bungalows (tel and fax +62 361 752483).
For a good selection of hotels you can book via the Internet, check out:
Just within the last year (2000), Internet cafés and kiosks have sprung up like mushrooms after rain.
Krakatoa, Jalan Raya Seminyak, Seminyak. While waiting your turn to use the computers you can relax with CNN in the excellent adjoining café. However, the server can be very slow. The high point of the Krakatoa is the billboard advertising properties for sale/rent.
Goa 2001 cyber cafe, Jalan Raya Seminyak, Seminyak, Telephone 731-178. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Opening hours: 9:00 a.m. to 02:00 a.m. Uses Indosat. Excellent access speed
Wartel, adjoining Benny's Café, right on the beachfront at Legian North. An excellent service with good fast connections.
RECOMMENDED INFORMATION SOURCES:
On the Internet: information for expatriates:
Also, a great bulletin board for Bali visitors, both short- and long-term: