6 weeks into my stay in Bali, I have had to find out many things first-hand that I could just not find on Google. Here are 5 things that I learned in my stay here. If you are traveling for a week or living the resort life, then this article probably doesn’t apply to you. I am living here long term. These are just some everyday tips to surviving and thriving as a member of the local community.
Doing your laundry
-Gym tan laundry bro. While that statement is usually said in joking terms, there is one thing in there that is actually a necessity. Cleaning your clothing is not exactly a choice to be made. You just do it. Well, if you’d like to have interaction with other humans you do it. When you travel for a long period of time, you can only bring a finite amount of clothing with you. I brought a small suitcase and a travel bag containing probably 10 days worth of clothing. If you’re a female, you may bring enough clothing for one month for a week-long trip. We all know you aren’t going to wear it all, but options am I right ladies?
Most laundry places near the tourist areas are going to stick you up for about 20,000 rupiah ($1.50) per kilogram of clothing. However, you can avoid this voluntary robbery if you stick to the local areas like myself. Most places will do a damn good job for around 7,000 rupiah ($0.50) per kilogram. They will even vacuum seal all of your clothing items for you in a nice little package of cleanliness. One thing to beware of is that laundry is double the price on the weekends at just about every place you go. It is not advertised. Now, these prices don’t sound absurd by western standards, but if you are living and working here on a Balinese salary, 5kg of clothing can cost you a good chunk of your paycheck. Pay heed if you are balling on a budget like sweet Nico.
ATM booths are air-conditioned
-For those of you that have never been to Bali, then that sucks. It is located on the equator as well as a little thing known as the ring of fire. As you can imagine, it is hotter than shit here. If you are anything like me, you enjoy a good amount of walking every day. Now, I’m not sure if it is my Cuban side or my Irish side, but whatever the source, I sweat profusely, like enough to make you think to yourself, “he needs stronger deodorant.” What I need is an inner cooling system to stop me from looking like I constantly just jumped in the pool with my shirt on.
Knowing all this, you can imagine that I was appreciative to find out that most ATM booths are in fact equipped with AC units. These things aren’t that big so what they really are are cold boxes away from the sweltering heat. In conclusion, if you find yourself wondering if you’re going to pass out between your starting point and your destination, hop in one of these and pretend you are taking out money, or just go in. Who gives a shit.
GoJek/Grab compared to taxis
-”Taxi! Yes Taxi! You need taxi! GET IN THE FUCKING CAR!” This is almost exactly what you are going to hear as soon as you walk out of the airport, with some variations in there. For that matter, as long as you are in any tourist-dense areas you are going to be honked at constantly. For the most part, those are not catcalls. Every taxi driver and their mother is going to offer you a ride, and if you say no it will be followed up with, “later? Tomorrow? Next week?” What they don’t include in their introduction is that they are going to charge you an arm and a leg without the courtesy of taking you out to dinner first. Every time I see someone leave my hostel in a taxi I can’t help but think to myself, “you poor bastard, stupid stupid bastard.” Do yourself a favor and download GoJek or Grab when you get here. GoJek is the Indonesian app and I believe Grab is all around Asia but these 2 have completely pushed Uber out of this area. You can order a ride on a bike or a car and it is far cheaper than any taxi. If you do take a taxi, I suggest you provide your own lipstick because they are going to charge you for the kiss on the cheek as well.
Finding a place to live
-Correct me if I’m wrong but there is no bigger bitch than changing residences. The searching is the easy part but then comes the moving. Everything into the box. Every box down the stairs and into the car. Every car to the new place. Every box out of the car and up the stairs. Everything out of the box. Organize. Make place pretty. Paint like one of your french girls. While this process is exponentially simplified when all you own are 2-3 bags, there are some vital differences that you need to know.
First off, most of these places are not listed online. That’s not to say there aren’t local sites but there is a lot of walking and looking around while appearing like exactly what you are, a lost bule. If you are a traveler, you are going to look for a spot that is furnished, but it is important to know what furnished means. Some places will come with a bed but no cover or pillow, like the place that my company so graciously gave me for the first month of my stay. They said “free” and I went Ray Charles.
Also, a good majority of apartments and kosts will have no kind of kitchen with cooking apparatuses. Sure there will be a burner, but no gas or pans. Most kosts are essentially studio apartments, so if you do not want your bedroom to smell like what you burnt 3 hours ago, you’ll probably go out to eat quite often. There are plenty of cheap options but you have to spend a little more bread if you don’t want to eat fried chicken/rice/noodles for every meal. This can get expensive. I have chosen the hostel route. It is about half the cost of most apartments or kosts, you don’t have to pay utilities, and most times you have full access to the kitchen amenities. You also get to meet a plethora of people instead of being cooped up in an apartment by yourself. I could have stayed in the US for that.
These people do not fuck around with spice
“I love spicy food.” You think so? You have no idea what spice is in Bali. I am someone who enjoys spicy food if the flavor is right but nothing could have prepared me for the hot ball of magma that I was fed the first week that I came here. I decided to eat at the chicken restaurant next to my place out of curiosity. The only English that these people knew was, “medium spice? Hot spice?” That should have been my first sign but with such a lack of options on the table and no previous knowledge as to what they consider spicy, I chose the lesser of the 2 out of precaution. Before I took my first bite I noticed the entire staff watching and waiting for my move. Second sign. What I should have said was, “no spice.” Holy shit. After taking my first bite I quickly realized why they were watching me so intently. They were excited to see this dumb shit white person regret their decision to tackle spicy Balinese food. It didn’t take me more than 2 seconds to realize that I was going to be a walking active volcano for the next 48 hours. Diarrhea exploded out of me like Mt. St. Helens at all times of the night. My point is, start off as minimal as possible because these people DO NOT FUCK AROUND when it comes to spice on their food.
-love, my insides
I have only been here for 6 weeks, so I have no doubt that this list will keep growing and growing. My hope is by the time I am done here, someone will be able to read my blog and know everything that they need to know about living in Bali. Please feel free to comment any questions that you may have and I will be sure to include them in my future blogs.
This blog is sponsored by Airplane Mode.