For about a month, we’ve had fewer workers than we need. Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to bring any workers in from outside Bali. Our builder Agus uses a lot of workers from Sumba and Java, as well as local Balinese workers. Many are specialist workers who he will bring in at particular times in the build. It can be hard to find other workers who have the same skills and can meet Agus’ requirements. At the moment, there are only 10 guys on site. This is only about half of what we need.
The few workers we have are very busy. Some are preparing the floors of the 3 bedrooms or building up the feature wall outside the stairs, while others are doing the frames of the doors and windows or the roof of the photographic studio.
We need more workers!
In the last few days, we’ve had to have some difficult conversations with our builder Agus. It seems simple – we need more workers – but it’s harder than that. We need workers with specialist skills, and they are hard to find. Agus’ usual teams of workers have been stuck outside Bali. Agus has been calling in favours and has half a dozen more workers arriving in the next couple of days.
Life on the home front
Bali is now open to domestic tourists. The government’s plan is to open internationally on September 11 but a lot of things can happen before then. Meanwhile, here is Bali, new visa regulations have allowed foreigners to change their visa and stay in Bali. Even so, the island still feels incredibly empty. Canggu still has quite a lot of people as there are many long-term residents who decided to stay during Covid 19. However, I went down to Seminyak a few times and it is basically deserted.
Sadly, many of our closest friends have had to leave. Often their work is based in Australia and they lived a fly-in-fly-out lifestyle – working in Aus and flying home to Bali. However, with air travel limited and expensive, closed borders and quarantine periods still very much up in the air, they have had to leave Bali. Super hard to say goodbye to such close friends. Living away from home, my Bali friends are my family. Life-long friends who have always got your back. We miss them so much already and hope they will all come back soon.
We love Umi!
Way way back, when we first started thinking about moving to Bali, there were so many reasons why we wanted to come. One of those reason was help raising our kids. Back when we were living in Sydney with a newborn and a toddler, we didn’t have our parents around to help us look after them (and keep us sane!). It was tiring and stressful. Marathon parenting is hard!
A year or so before we moved to Bali, we visited for a few weeks and stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb. However, what I most remember about staying there wasn’t the accommodation, it was the incredibly lovely cleaner, Umi, who we saw every day. She always had a smile and went out of her way to play and engage with our then 2 year old daughter. We kept her number because you never know how life works out.
Fast forward a year and we’ve moved to Bali. We found a great villa and moved in. But we’re not sleeping much as our then 6 month old son is doing what babies do. We were tired and needed some help. We contacted Umi and she explained she was really unhappy where she was working. We asked her to work with us, and she started almost immediately.
Some things are just meant to be. Umi quickly became a part of our family, particularly for our son. She’s cared for him almost every day since he was 6 months old. He turned 5 this week. Finding a nanny in Bali is not difficult, finding someone with common sense who will care for your children is more challenging, but finding someone who will love them as their own is near impossible. The near impossible happened for us. Umi loves our kids with all her heart, and we are forever grateful for her to be part of our family.
I won’t lie – seeing how much Phoenix and Luna love her was hard at first. My maternal side felt threatened! But I soon realised that I am incredibly fortunate. We love her!
Will Umi live with us?
When we started negotiating for the land we’re building on, the landowner insisted that the smallest piece of land he would rent was 8are (800 square metres). We’d wanted about half that, but he wouldn’t budge. Everyone knows the real estate mantra “location, location, location”. Well, we loved the location, so we ended up with more land than we’d expected. We needed to decide what to do with the extra space, and ended up choosing to build the offices and my photographic studio (yay!).
Umi has been lived by herself in a small kost. It’s an extremely basic single room in a boarding house. I’ve been there a few times when Phoenix was visiting Umi in her room. As much as Umi has made it her home, it wasn’t great. We wanted to improve her situation. After discreetly finding out from her that she didn’t love where she was living, we decided to ask her to live with us because we wanted to build a big studio room for her in our home. She was incredibly enthusiastic, and we were relieved that she was as keen as us!
Her studio will be detached from the main building so she will have lots of privacy. However, I’m sure Phoenix will find a way to sneak over to her as much as possible. Whenever Umi stays over in our current home, Phoenix always insists that she sleep next to him in his bed.
Umi is an incredibly important part of our life in Bali – she is part of our family. We wanted to make a difference in her life. Her studio will be significantly bigger and better than where she currently is. There are a lot of things I wish I could do to improve the world that I can’t, but this is one thing I can do that will make a small difference.
I took a quick walk around our build a week or so ago and made a short tour video. Check it out!