Build Diary 20 – Corona Update
While Indonesia suffers, the official corona statistics paint a relatively pretty picture of Bali – only 4 deaths and approximately 400 cumulative positive cases on an island of over 4million. However, the lack of testing, as well as the government’s desperation to reopen the island for business call into question the accuracy of those numbers. Each banjar (local village government) has implemented their own restrictions. There are regular checkpoints to ensure everyone is wearing masks, and many areas have gates to lock strangers out of their communities from 9pm to 5am.
Why has Bali not been swamped with cases of corona? Direct flights from Wuhan and large groups of people congregating together for a long time are a recipe for disaster. There are lots of theories why Bali hasn’t been inundated with corona cases – the heat and humidity, people not living in cramped apartments, the many ceremonies held to protect the island, and (my personal favourite) the healing powers of the herbal drink jamu. Not matter what mystic powers have been in action, I’m certainly glad that most people have been taking the dangers more seriously.
Local corona signs
However, after nearly 3 months of isolating, it’s getting very frustrating to stay at home. Some businesses are reopening so they can earn some income and pay their staff. While some have set up hand washing stations out the front or created extra space between tables, others have not. I totally get the frustration of being cooped up inside. After a very rare family trip out for brekky, my kids wanted to go exploring, so we headed north to Seseh on our scooters through some of the back streets. Sticking close to the coast, beach after beach was closed until miraculously we found one that was open and almost completely empty.
We hadn’t planned on a swim so we didn’t have swimmers or towels. What started as let’s-get-our-feet-wet quickly turned into getting completely soaked. So worth it to hear the squeals of joy from my beach-deprived munchkins!
Crazy cat lady
My kids have been asking for a pet for a while now. We decided to get a cat and were about to visit an animal shelter to pick up a stray. Then we heard some tiny meows from our garden. After investigating, we found a mumma cat had brought her tiny kittens into the back of our garden as it was a safer place than the street. Unfortunately, we have a large lizard (longer than my arm) that also resides there, as well as the occasional snake from nearby rice fields. The mum cat would disappear for a while and leave the kittens alone. We had a really bad feeling that something would happen to the tiny kittens.
Adopting them ourselves seemed like the best idea. We moved them into an open bathroom so they had fresh air and a safe place to sleep. At first, they were terrified. Lots of hissing and swiping at us. It seemed we’d be raising some wild feral cats. But over the last month, Rosie, Snowy and Tiger (named by my kids) gradually became used to us. Stuck at home in ISO, we’ve been spending a lot of time with them. Makes a nice break from home school for both the kids and I. Clearly, Stockholm syndrome has kicked in nicely as they now purr when we pick them up and talk to them. They’ve graduated into exploring in our back garden, which is reasonably securely enclosed, during the day. So, basically, I’ve become a crazy cat lady!
One of my worst nightmares occurred while I was on a shoot a week or so ago – I dropped my camera! Well I didn’t actually it. It fell from my tripod onto the hard stone floor. For a moment, time stood still. It’s my livelihood, and without my main camera I can’t do what I love doing. Amazingly, nothing vital was broken, and I was able to carry on. In fact, the photos from that shoot turned out amazing!
However, I quickly realised the view finder wasn’t working so I had to focus by taking photos and seeing the photo on the LCD display. It was slow process but it worked. The next day I scootered into Denpasar to my preferred camera repair shop. I have an old Canon (and probably need an upgrade!) but she’s my baby! Fortunately, it was easy to fix. Although it can be hard to get spare parts, the technicians here are amazing at repairing machinery. Crisis averted!
One of the very few positives out of this corona nightmare is that there’s a lot fewer cars and scooters on the roads. The usual traffic jams and waiting in the hot sun have been replaced by cruising along in less than half the normal time.
Our build is on an old sloping rice field. And I’ve realised that the angle of the slope may cause us a problem. Our garden will be on a sharp angle if we don’t change the plan. So I’ve been speaking with Agus and Silvia and they have a suggestion. As we continue the build, we’re using the hard rubbish to fill this lower level. There’s even an old slab from a never-completed building that was on the land. We need to break it up and remove it, so we’ll use it to raise the level of the garden.
There haven’t been too many dramatic changes in the last fortnight of building. After the excitement of pouring the floor of the second level and building the support columns and walls, we’re not ready yet to do the ceiling. I’ve been popping in regularly. Anytime I have to go out and about, I always duck over to the site to check on progress. The workers on site are always busy and there’s always lots being done.
The master bedroom, my photo studio, one of the 2 offices
I’ve been really excited that the team from BrightGreen will do our lighting. We first met Kendal from BrightGreen a couple of months ago and after discussing our needs with her and architect Silvia, she has been working of a draft of our lighting plan. We were so excited to use their lighting. However, as we all know, the pandemic has had severe global economic consequences. While demand has dropped and shipping costs are up nearly 400%, BrightGreen has been hibernating. Fortunately, demand for their amazing lighting is starting to return in Australia, but there’s still a while to go till full production returns. While we can’t install their incredible lighting now, we hope to do it after the life returns to normal.
Some of BrightGreen’s design
Paying In Stages
As I described in a previous diary entry, we’re paying for the build in 8 stages. We paid a deposit so Agus could get started. Now we pay Agus the builder the next month’s payment after Silvia the architect has signed off that he’s completed the previous month’s work. I’m glad that I have Silvia to check each line item and ensure all is complete. I don’t have the technical knowledge to do that myself! Paying in stages has been working well. Money is a great motivator!
I also went out with Silvia to look for tiles. There are so many options! But I haven’t found the perfect tile yet. The hunt continues.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the ceiling for the ground floor of the residence. It’s open plan and will be the heart of our home, containing the kitchen and living area. Basically, we’ll spend most of our time there! What sort of ceiling should we have? At first I was leaning towards exposed concrete ceiling, but exposed plumbing pipes are not particularly glamourous. So then I thought about plywood. At the moment I’m leaning towards conventional gypsum board. It’s going to be an amazing, massive room, with an even more impressive view of the rice field. I don’t want people looking up at the ceiling instead!
I’ve also been wondering about the 2 work rooms that we’re building. One is slightly larger than the other and has an en-suite attached (so it can be used as a guest bedroom if required). Initially, we planned to keep them separate, but now I’m wondering if this is wise. As Bali Interiors grows, we’ll need more space, so I’ve decided to knock a hole in that dividing wall and put a door in. That will allow us to configure it as one large room, or 2 smaller individual rooms.