Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cop Stops

The policemen I meet here, at their ritual dragnet stops on the Bypass, generally like me for three reasons. 1) I have a local driver's license, 2)  I'm an American and 3) I'm retired.

Polisi: "Oh, local,  local!" At this point they generally hold up the license for all to see. "Local! Ini bagus!"


Polisi: "Where are you going?"

Me: "Pulang" (going home). I still don't understand why where I'm going matters.

Polisi: "Where are you from?"

Me: "America."

Polisi: "Ah! Obama!"


Polisi: "What do you do here? Have business here?"

Me: "No, sudah pension."

Polisi: "Sudah pension!" They generally tell another officer or two. "Hey, sudah pension!"


Polisi: "What did you do in America."

Me: "I worked at a hospital."

Polisi: "Ohhhh, orang kaya!" (rich man). "Doctor, ya? Big, big money."


I wish.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Arrogant Landlord

So, yesterday afternoon, my wife called a guy about a house. 

"When can we see it."

"Tomorrow, at noon."

"Noon it is, then."

She arranged for me to meet her at work at around 11:30, and from there we would drive together to the house.

When I showed up at her workplace, she was on the phone with the landlord.

"Bapak, this is Louise. We're coming to see your house now. 12 o'clock, right?"

"Right. See you there."

So, we arrive a bit before 12, and he's not there yet. He's not there at 12:15, either. Or 12:30. Or 1:00.

So we head back to her workplace and stop for lunch along the way.

The man calls while we're eating.

"Where are you?" he says. I'm waiting at the house."

Sigh. This is so typical. It's not really odd at all. It's normal. It's part of the frustrating farce of looking for a house, and a landlord, in Bali. It's known as rubber-time. As a friend of mine points out, it's as if these people believe that other people have nothing in particular to do but stand around and wait on them. He has heard that this is 'part of the culture', and we ought to be sensitive to that. But he's not buying it. And neither I am. What it is is a passive-aggressive disrespect, a homegrown form of arrogance that strikes people as being a badge of merit, showing that they are 'important' people.

But, of course, it's nothing more than annoying.

And so the hunt continues, of course - quite against a current of unreliability, indecisiveness, bad manners, carelessness, laziness and, as I said, arrogance. One month left to find a place.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

More House Hunting & etc.

Predictably, my wife was not able to see the houses she had made appointments to see yesterday, as the owners were suddenly unavailable. This is normal. It is the usual pattern. So she'll try again today. And may well encounter some other roadblock. It is really so typical - I just can't figure out the psychology behind it.

In the meantime, I've been stuck in the house since Friday (today being Tuesday) because my motorbike registration has expired and - you guessed it - there are problems and delays in procuring a new one. Suddenly, the rules seem to have changed. In order, I'm sure, that the costs may increase. Same thing with the Kitas (permit to live here) and Exit Permit. Oddly, it seems that they don't have single exit permits available. Just simply ran out of 'em. Strange, ain't it? Now, all they have is permits for 6 exits. Which - you guessed it - is about 6 times more expensive.

So, this means that I will not be going to Singapore with my wife and son in March. The 6 permits to exit are far more costly than the plane ticket to get there and back.

It is part incompetence, part greed, and 100% annoying.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

House Hunting, Continued

Well, we'll try for a triple play and post a third entry in a row, even though the 'publish' button is still blanked out.

The house search proceeds sluggishly. Yesterday, we looked at two which were equally ridiculous. The first was on a street that looked more like Bangladesh than Bali. It was a two story house, and even though it was advertised as being for rent, the 17 or so people inside didn't look like they were about to go anywhere, nor was their floor-to-ceiling 'stuff'. A train of children, grandmothers and babies followed us throughout our tour. The upper story balcony offered a great view of a mass of thick, just barely rubber coated  cables running from the pole at one end of the street to the pole at the other. Shocking.

The second house was a 'villa'. My wife's thought was that we might combine with several friends from work and rent a large place together. Again, however, the place was already filled with people - mostly young men, in this case - watching multiple TVs, all tuned to different channels. They, too, did not seem ready to go anywhere. Maybe we could split the rent 25 ways?

So, not a good day, yesterday.

Today, however, we actually got to look at a decent place - and there weren't even any people in it, except for the owner, who seemed pleasant during our short meeting. This is a new house, which is certainly a plus - or I imagine so, anyway. There are three bedrooms, a large kitchen and living room, a carport and a gate. One minus is the small, single bathroom. (And I do mean small). Anyway, hope, for the time being, has sprung back to life.

Tomorrow, the wife will look at two more houses - one in Renon and the other in Sanur. We'll keep our fingers crossed.


Well, that's odd. even though the "Publish" button is unavailable, it published the entry anyway. Go figure.


Having a lot of troubles with Blogger. Seems that the "Publish" button is not available, and I can't seem to find out why. So, may have to change blogging platforms - although I hate for this one to simply disappear after all these years.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014


So, here we are, looking for a house again. This will be the fourth house we've lived in since 2010. They like to rent out houses here by the year, during which time, their obligation as landlords is nil. Does the roof leak? Is a water pipe broken? Is there a hole in the wall. Well, fix it then. Not the landlord's problem.

Anyway, our contract here in Biaung is up, and we are looking to move closer to Denpasar, where my wife works. But this is not an easy task. You have no newspaper advertising houses here. You depend on word of mouth, cardboard signs you might see on the street, or, as a last resort, the help of an "agent".

It is a curious process, and usually a confused one. My friend, Mike, looking out for a house for us, happened to run into a Balinese acquaintance. She told him that she had a house for rent and that he should send me right away. So I met the woman, exchanged some talk, and waited for another party, a man, to pick us up.

We drove away, towards the house, as I thought  -- but no, we stopped to pick up another man along the way. While we waited in the car, I asked the woman about the price of the house.

"I don't know," she said. "It's not mine."


So the third party, the man, jumps into the car, greets me happily and says, "So you want to buy a house!"

Hold on. Who said buy? I said rent. We want to rent a house.

This causes him to pull a very long face. "Oh. No want buy?"

"No want buy."


"No lease. Rent."


How unfortunate. He has no house for rent.

But we go to look at his house anyway. Or rather, the house for which he is acting as an agent. Who really knows who owns the thing.

The man pushes open a castle like gate, letting us into a villa property, complete with swimming pool, upstairs and downstairs, full size kitchen, three bathrooms. He's smiling from ear to ear. It's a beautiful property.

"It's very nice," I say, feeling embarrassed about not being a millionaire. "But, of course, it's too expensive."

"Ohhhh. You sure? If you rent for two years, I give you deal."

I really don't even  know what I'm doing here. It's confusing and weird.

"I'm afraid there was a misunderstanding. I want to rent, not to buy. The most I can pay is 40 million per year (that's 4000 dollars, folks).

"Ohhhh." He seems very sad.

"Sorry, Do you have anything else? A rental."

"Oh, nggak ada." Don't have.

So the four of us trundle on back to the woman's house. The driver apologizes again for the lack of air conditioning in the car.

This is how it goes, sadly enough. Over and over. The same woman calls me again the next day. Suddenly she has a house in our price range. Really?

And then she gives me a number for her daughter, who just recently got a job as an agent.

Anyway, it's discouraging. It's gonna be a long road. And yet our time is short. We only have until April to move.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

A Message from the American Recall Center

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Waka Land Cruise

Went on assignment Sunday for Bali Style, to do an article on the Waka Land Cruise. Generally, I'm not wild about 'cruises' of any kind, whether land or sea, but, honestly, this wasn't too bad. Although  the trip lasted for some 9 hours, the time actually seemed shorter, likely because of the various stops along the way.

I, Louis, our friend, Ari, and two of Ari's friends, were picked up in Sanur by one of the Waka Land Rovers, equipped, as the brochure says, with picnic baskets and refreshments. But not equipped with an air-conditioning, sadly. This could have been deadly if the day had been as hot as the last two have been, but, luckily for us, it was fairly mild. Additionally, the cruise quickly heads for the higher inland mountain slopes, where the temperatures are generally cooler.

First stop was a volcanic quarry, where workers have, for generations, carted stones on their heads from the bottom of the ravine to the top of the hill,  where they are hand cut and fashioned into bricks. We met a 62 year old lady doing just this. Hard life, that. But, of course, people regularly want to take photos of her, for which she willingly collects small amounts of money.

More interesting was the next stop -- a traditional community, carved into the jungle some 80 years ago, with some houses still standing and occupied. The walls are made of mud. There is, of course, no electricity. On the grounds, a plethora of natural plants grow -- mangosteen, coffee, coconut, bananas and many more. The community here is composed of 20 families -- parents, children, grandchildren and so on. And Ben, the dog, who has a knack for inserting himself into every photograph. There is a small kitchen with an open-fire stove, still in daily use, as well as a stone structure on the lower grounds for offerings made to the forest spirits to whom the land initially belonged. It was necessary for the human beings to request permission to reside here, to which the spirits ultimately agreed. Moreover, they contracted at the same time to watch over and protect the community of man in perpetuity. Nice. Daily offerings are made to these spirits. Everyone keeps his part of the bargain.

Upward still, we arrive at last at the very top of the rice terraces -- affording a truly stunning view of these seemingly endless green tiers as they tumble down the mountain toward the sea.

Lunch was then served at a little restaurant devoted to the Waka tours -- genuine Balinese cuisine, with all its exotic spices and textures. A real treat. The restaurant itself it approached via a grassy little one lane track beneath a beautiful canopy of jungle greenery, and there is really no obtrusive sound (a rare thing in Bali) other than the sounds that ought to be there -- of birds, breeze, insects and flowing water from deep below in the ravine.

The last stop is at one of the main temples in Bali (there are six of them). I'm not real big on temples. They seem stuffy and hot, to me. But anyway, Ari enjoyed it (being a Hindu).

From there, it's back to Sanur, by the quickest route possible (the non-scenic route, of course), but the trip  home is not so bad. The main roads, once you reach them, as smooth most of the way, and you can sit back and close your eyes for a rest.

So, I give the whole thing a B+.