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WHO WRITES THIS STUFF?

Who am I?
I’m Vyt. For six years I was a minor cog in a complex, well-meaning but deeply flawed machine (a university in Australia, actually) where I used to help design eLearning courses. Before that, I ran a recording technology training centre for 25 or so years. Wonderful times.

I no longer choose to work in a learning institution. I no longer believe they are all that relevant to learning. Life paints on a much broader canvas, its chaotic vistas shaped by both energy and entropy – and it is unconstrained by a frame. I like to watch it at work.  I like to watch people learning, and to work out how they do it. I like to learn.

Where am I?
I moved to Bali to live in June 2009. Yes, I’m one of those expats. Forget about being a 20+ times visitor here – being an expat is different. I’ve been here for nearly 3 years now, and I still have a lot to learn. This blog records my impressions of  expat life in Bali. Some of my posts might be close to the truth of life here; others will be judged as too narrow, too whiny, or just inaccurate. Let me know which of my posts have slipped off the reality track by commenting. Opinions are good, both mine and yours. All are valid.

My goal is to continue exploring the broader nature of life and learning while in Bali. While not without its problems, Bali is generally a wonderfully pleasant, eclectic and tolerant environment. Here I believe it is possible for me to bring balance back into a life which, in Australia, was slowly being crushed by petty regulations, overly-zealous social engineering and a preponderance of do-gooders who fanatically believe they know best. Time will tell …

Meanwhile, I will continue to live a life of sloth and gluttony here, while reflecting, writing, travelling, and generally having the time of my life. I’ve never been happier.

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32 comments

  1. Hi i have been enjoying the read and would like to take my family to Bali for a period of time. maybe a school term or 3. We are regular visitors to Bali. 2-3 times per year.
    If you wouldnt mind letting me know? i would like to know what rent for a secure and modern villa may be? Central to seminyak, legian or Kuta.
    Was it hard to find a villa?

    Regards
    Travis Williams
    Shepparton Vic


    • Many villas in those areas are set up for short-term vacation rentals – say between 2 weeks and 3 or 4 months. For a quality villa, short-term rents seem to be about $2,000-$3,000 USD per month, although shopping around plus the usual Bali negotiation process may well get you a better price. For a guide, check out the Bali Advertiser online. Arriving in the low season (highly variable here!) generally sees a lower rate too.


  2. Hi Vyt,
    Please, please, more stories …. Very well written and articulate. Always an enjoyable read!


  3. My name is Miguel S. and I currently study in Switzerland in a Hotel Management School. I decided to take an internship in a hotel in Bali for 6 months. I have been in similar countries to Indonesia to surf, so I am not a “virgin” in these kinds of adventures, problems, challenges etc. but I have never “lived” so long in a place like Bali. I was looking for some random info about Bali, and I stumbled upon your blog. It is very well written, and has some really interesting stories that got me really excited to go to Bali.

    [Rest of comment deleted – I have answered the specific questions you ask via email]


  4. Hello Vyt,
    thanks for your very readable and interesting blogs.
    I was wondering all the time why a lucid person like you would want to live in the “getto”as you call it yourself,but it seems you realise now there are other places in bali worth exploring and infinitely more balinese than Kuta.
    I live myself in the countryside between Ubud and the sea,only one hour from the”big world”but it feels like lightyears away.Yes,i like it here.
    There are still big unspoiled patches of land here away from the bigg roads.
    About billpaying:i have no Pam,but electricity and phonebills are automatically paid by my bank.saves a lot of annoyance indeed.
    I hope you will move to an healthier environment whenever your lease is finished.
    Kind regards,reinhart.


    • Thanks for your comments. Luckily I live in a very quiet cul-de-sac on the border of Legian and Seminyak so I can escape the madness easily. But in small doses, I like the buzz of the ghetto – maybe I’m just a masochist at heart.
      In time, I have no doubt that I will move to less spoilt areas – in fact, the more I see of life in Bali proper, the more I like it 😉


  5. Hi there, i am desperate to get some information that you mentioned on one of your posts about bringing dogs in from Jakarta to Bali but im unable to find your contact email address to email you! i hope you can let me know your email. thankyou so much.


    • Sorry, bad news. The ban on animal entry has been further intensified, with smuggled animals being destroyed on detection at Bali’s entry points. That’s crazy in itself for immunized, rabies-free dogs and cats of course – it’s illegal exit from Bali of possible rabies-infected animals that should get all the attention.
      Nevertheless, the authorities have closed down the only creative-thinking pet transport company that could do the job. It was reliable but expensive, but it is no more.
      Others may spring up – this is the Land of the Entrepreneur after all, but who knows how good they will be?


  6. Finding your blog has answered so many questions. I visit regularly and sometimes wonder why? I relate totally to your frustration, your sharp eye and to your deep wonder at this crazy island that really seems to be the centre of the cosmos. Madness and magic!
    Please more!


  7. Stumbled across your account of washing Aphrodite while searching for an essay titled “Polishing Hephaestus’s Tarnished Image.” Enjoyed it tremendously, and had to look up “lain kali, ya” to satisfy my curiosity. It apparently means “some other time” in Malay, which either means the sachet seller would sashay by again later, or would wait her turn for your attention once the goddess had her hair abraded.


  8. Thanks for the laughs the information and your wonderful perception. Living in Tegallantang and relate to all you have to say. Any time you are passing please drop in for a bin tang or two,or three or…
    Liz and Barry
    haywire@iinet.net.au


    • Thanks! It is indeed rare for me to venture into the wild highlands around Ubud, but, just in case I have an attack of wanderlust, I will be sure to contact you!


  9. Vyt, I’d enjoy meeting you personally, and perhaps I could be a good source of contacts and information which will only help to make your life on Bali better, and your blog as well. You already have my e-mail address.

    A bit more you can read about me:

    http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/deec0/

    Kind regards, Roy, dari Kedewatan-Bunutan, Ubud


    • Thank you. I have added your page to my blogroll links for those who want some insight into Balinese cultural and family practices.


  10. I’m flattered, and thanks for including a link to my modest efforts on Virtual Tourist, but the site you should really link to is called Home in Bali.

    http://www.homeinbali.com/forum/

    While not your typical expat forum by any stretch, there is a lot of very in depth writing to be found there, including frequent posts by one of the most highly regarded anthropologists living on Bali, Dr. Bruce Pohlmann of Singaraja.


    • Now linked in the blogroll.
      Now this forum is quite different to the usual – and quite humbling.
      Thanks for the heads-up.


  11. Running the risk of sounding patronizing, it’s pretty clear from your blogs that you are sincere and that you are honestly endeavoring to adapt and become harmonious with your new home. You’re a skilled writer and you handle English about as well as Monet handled paint. There is a genuine aspect to your writing that is woefully absent in most other blogs and forums dealing with Bali, and Indonesia in general.

    Finding one’s place, or niche here in Bali is a unique experience for everyone. How one may succeed is not necessarily the way another will succeed, however there are a lot of basics which are essential for anyone trying to make Bali home, and just as important, to feel at home in this culture, which is so unlike our Western backgrounds. Sharing those experiences with honesty and integrity is essential, but you already know that, so I’m obviously preaching to the choir.

    Many thanks for adding a link to the Home in Bali forum. If you feel inclined to join that forum, please feel welcome. I’ll speak to Tommy about adding a link there to your blog as well. Matur suksama lagi.


  12. Hi Vyt, I understand your mindset. I’ve often thought about jumping countries due to the “complex, well-meaning but deeply flawed machine” in Australia. I’m yet to commence and finish the PhD. After applying my 2 cents worth, I think I’ll end up on an island trying to gain some deeper understanding of it all. Eventually I want to do a documentary to uncover the real impact tourism is having on Bali. I’d love to interview you when that time comes….


    • If you want to do some homework in preparation of that documentary about the impact of tourism on Bali then get your hands on the book, Bali, Living in Two Worlds. It’s edited by the noted Swiss academic, Urs Ramseyer but the writings contained within are all essays by noted Balinese scholars. No offense to Vyt, but if you really want to know about the impact of tourism on Bali one shouldn’t go to a westerner to learn about that…rather they should go to the Balinese themselves.


      • It is not news that much of over-populated and over-exploited Bali is facing a number of crises. The most obvious are environmental ones, such as dwindling water supply, air pollution, poor waste management, coastal erosion, polluted rivers and beaches, land degradation, loss of available land for traditional farming, etc.
        Even the extraordinary “subak” system is under threat.

        Then there’s the current “infrastructure”, (or lack of it). Poorly maintained roads, somewhat challenged electricity supply, education system, mediocre health facilities, unemployment, and availability of meaningful programs to alleviate poverty and services for physically disabled and mentally impaired people.

        One could well ask how is it that the warnings of Balinese scholars, Balinese governors, and so on, for years, have been largely ignored? What will it take for a serious wake-up call for this tiny, beautiful island to realise it’s massively under threat, and do something about it? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer to that.

        “if you really want to know about the impact of tourism on Bali one shouldn’t go to a westerner to learn about that…rather they should go to the Balinese themselves.”

        Well, if Balinese have been complicit in allowing the continuing rape of their island for short-term “wealth”, why bother? There are many western expats here that are also affected by the ongoing carnage. The difference for them is they can packup and leave (if they want). Most Balinese don’t have that choice. “The Balinese themselves” have a lot to answer for.

        Any “new” documentary about this should encompass as many views as possible. If only for a sense of balance. I would even go so far as to say that in the main, westerners have done more to try and address some of Bali’s ills than “The Balinese themselves” (maybe a good working title for your documentary).


  13. My short reply to your position would be for you to take a poll among a random sampling of several hundred Balinese with equal representation in all the Regencies and ask them a simple question…do you think you, your family and your village is better off today than 15 years ago?

    I have no doubt in my mind that the overwhelming majority would enthusiastically respond, yes.

    While there is no doubt that a lot of work remains to be done, there is no denying the great improvements on Bali during the last 15 years, and in all respects.

    Whenever I read this “doom and gloom” scenario about Bali, it is always coming from a westerner, and almost always from one who hasn’t been around long enough to have experienced the positive changes here over the past 15 years.


  14. A poll such as that might come up with the overwhelming positive results you suggest. Or maybe not.

    Indonesians and Balinese, in general, do not like to make negative comments about anything. I know plenty of Balinese who think things were “better” under the Suharto dictatorship. Quite a few still think that Sukarno was actually a good guy!

    Here’s a random question for you and the Balinese you live with. “What do you think about the proposed railway line around Bali?” I have yet to meet one Balinese who’s even heard of it. Maybe I mix with the wrong people.

    For sure, there have been many “improvements” in Bali over the last 15 years, as well as many severe disasters. There is a price to pay for everything.

    My “doom and gloom scenario about Bali”, as you put it, is nothing that I’ve made up. Many people, unlike yourself, can see the writing on the wall. To be blinded by the hyperbole about Bali is one thing – to believe it is another. The third thing is to prove it.

    And just for your information, I have been living in Bali for over 17 years.


  15. I didn’t mean to suggest that you made up the “doom and gloom” scenario. The fact is, that’s been around for a very long time.

    If you own at least modest library of books on Bali then you will surely have a copy of Miguel Covarrubias’ seminal work, The Island of Bali (La Isla de Bali) published in 1937. Covarrubias first came to Bali early in 1930 and of his return to Bali in 1933 he wrote, “…we were disappointed; the tourist rush was in full swing…the young were developing contempt for Balinese ways…lands were being sold…we feared we had made a mistake in returning.”

    That was 79 years ago, so it should be no surprise that today there are still plenty of non Balinese folks speaking of doom and gloom for Bali.

    No doubt in my mind how the poll would work out…which would be just as I said if one were to be conducted. I don’t know any Balinese who are pessimistic about their future, and I know a great many of them.

    As for the tendency of Balinese to avoid negative comments, yes, that is true, but it isn’t true among themselves or their families. Understandably, very few westerners get to know the Balinese on that level. In the end the Balinese don’t really give a flip what westerners think, nor should they, IMHO.

    As for the oft discussed railroad, I personally don’t see it happening any time in my life. It isn’t needed.

    What I do see happening as a positive move is a gradual understanding that an increase in tourism arrivals is not where emphasis needs to be placed. Rather, the emphasis needs to be more concentrated on attracting more tourism dollars by way of higher quality tourists.


    • Well, in some ways Covarrubias was correct. Maybe just a bit ahead of his time. I wonder what he’d say about today’s Bali?

      79 years ago, most people on the planet had little or no idea about global environmental matters. Or didn’t care. The 21st Century is a very different place from 1930s Bali (although I agree with you that in some parts of “real Bali”, you wouldn’t know it).

      I’m sure you’re familiar with the story about the boy who cried
      “wolf”? Might be happening in Bali – no wolves, I know. No tigers here any more, too. And only a handful of Bali Starlings left.


  16. One can only speculate of course, but I rather imagine that Covarrubias would be rather amazed that Bali exists in its current state at all, considering the changes world wide since the 1930’s.

    I rather more enjoy the story of Kala Rau which I highly suggest you read if you haven’t already.


  17. Love the blog Vyt, good vibes and all the best to you on your journey.


  18. Re: over-regulation in Australia. I just received a letter from my daughter’s school outlining new regulations. Basically, parents are not allowed to talk with the teachers when dropping off/picking up their children due to public liability insurance requirements which state that “A school could be liable to charges of negligence if it knowingly permitted any practice through act or omission that decreased its level of supervision and as a result an injury or damage that could otherwise have been avoided were to occur”.


  19. Is it safe to come back…?


    • LOL!


  20. Love your blog and subscribed to new postings. My wife is from Kalimantan and we have been toying with the idea of returning there but Bali has also been on my mind. You blog may help us to make it up – our mind that is!


  21. I work for a magazine who writes articles about people who have retired abroad. Could I interview you? Can you drop me an email and I’ll send you a copy of the magazine so you can see our style.

    Thanks

    nbuckler@internationalliving.com


  22. Have you discontinued this blog?
    Too bad, it was fun to read!



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