With government plans to re-open Bali changing on an almost daily basis, it’s hard to know what will happen next. What is certain is that other parts of Indonesia are suffering significantly higher rates of corona. It doesn’t bode well for my island home. My kids are thrilled to be back at school with their friends. Freedom from home isolation has revived them. We certainly don’t want to return to home school life.
Time to go
The Indonesian Department of Immigration just announced what will happen to the many visa holders residing in Bali. While some visas can be extended as usual, others may require the visa-holder to leave within 1 month or maybe extended until the government changes the regulations. The uncertainty continues!
Visa runs to neighboring SE Asian countries – the lifeblood of the many digital nomads staying here – don’t seem to be possible. Those countries either don’t currently allow tourists or Indonesia won’t accept digital nomads trying to return from overseas on short-term visas. Bali may be about to get a lot emptier.
I was lucky to be invited to stay at Ulaman Eco Resort last weekend. I took advantage of spending one night away from the kids, while we brought them over for the second night. It’s only a 15-minute drive from Canggu, so super easy to get to yet feels completely secluded. Brand new, simply amazing (and only took a year to build which is unheard of), it was a lovely mini stay-cation. Plus they have their own private waterfall!
Our builder Agus has asked for the last payment that is due while the build is happening. This payment was set for 6 months after construction started. As the build was scheduled to take 6 months, this payment should be given on completion and we are moving in. Unfortunately (but not unexpectedly) the build is definitely not finished, and we are definitely not moving in now!
We expected the build to take longer than 6 months and had a few extra months built into the schedule. But if the builder doesn’t finish the villa (to our satisfaction), he doesn’t get paid. So I’ve had to have a hard conversation with Agus. We’ve got the money to pay the instalment, but the work needs to be completed first!
I’ve made a lot of changes to the original build design. Many of them are new features that were not in the original budget, as well as alterations to the original plan. More or less, we’re looking at spending about 10% more than we originally planned. Doesn’t sound like much, but it’s still thousands of dollars that we didn’t expect to pay! We’ll have to do some world-class juggling to make this work. Just our luck that the year we decide to spend the most money we’ve ever spent is also the year my earning potential is decimated!
I’ve been thinking about the flooring lately and I’ve decided to use a system of different zones. Each zone with its own material and colour. I’ve also been playing around with how our storage will look. You can never have too much but I want it to work! I’ve been working on the storage in the bathrooms and in my photographic studio. I also decided to add storage under the stairs to the second floor in the main room.
One of the changes that I realised I’d need to make was increasing the height of the garden. At the beginning of this process, when we were shocked to get build quotes that were 2 and 3 times our budget, we needed to cut costs dramatically. Our land is on an incline (it was an old unused rice field) so our garden is much lower than the other buildings. We’d hoped that it would still look good and be functional. Unfortunately, it won’t!
Raising the ground
So, we’re raising the level of the ground. Fortunately, we’ve been able to use some of the hard rubble from the site to raise it, including an old slab that was at the front of the land.
(L) Under the tree is the slab of the original building (C) Cutaway of the slab (R) The garden that needs to be raised!
Creating more storage
I invited my friend, the amazing photographer Amberly Valentine to come to the site and let me pick her brain about the studio I’m building. She knows how to create a gorgeous functional studio. She recommended making it a big as possible and suggested removing the small storage area I had envisioned to create more studio space.
Fortuitously, we’d already decided to build another storage room that backed onto the studio and would be accessed from the parking area. So, with this area at my disposal, I decided to change the entrance to this storage room from the parking area to a door in the studio. Hey presto – we will have lots of storage in the studio!
(L) The area we decided to tun into storage (C) and (R) The workers build foundations and remove the old slab
After all that shopping in the last few weeks, we’ve had the goods delivered. The builders will make a temporary lockable door in one of the rooms and they’ll be put away until they need to be installed.
Safety and security
There’s very little violent crime in my part of Bali. It’s certainly not due to a police presence, I almost never seem them apart from the occasional roadblock on the main road to/from the airport. Instead, the local communities monitor their own areas and can dish out severe village justice when required.
However, there have been more than a few break ins and opportunistic theft since I moved to Bali. With Covid 19 causing Bali to shutdown, a huge number of people have been left unemployed. There are no unemployment benefits here, and many people are hungry and desperate. With the significant disparity in wealth that exists, crime has increased. Now I am hearing of break ins far more regularly than I did previously.
Growing up in Argentina, this is nothing new for me. We have always had crime problems as well as economic inequality. Sadly, the main difference is that violent crime is commonplace in Buenos Aires.
My husband has always been concerned about these sorts of safety and security issues. We met in Argentina when he was 19 and I was 17. Born and raised by the beach in Sydney, the realities of life in Latin America may have been a bit of a shock for him. Even a couple of years ago, when building our own home in Bali was a mere dream, his must-haves included high walls, alarms and cameras. Although I drew the line at barbed wire, in our current world some extra measures are not a bad idea.