Well, it’s official, Bali is staying closed until at least the beginning of next year. The Governor of Bali’s plan to open in September has been cancelled. With so much of the population dependant on the tourist dollar, it’s no surprise that many in Bali wanted to open as soon as possible. The economic devastation that Covid has wrought is enormous. Talks of a travel bubble between Bali and select countries have not eventuated and the President of Indonesia has made it clear that international tourism won’t restart in 2020.
Domestic tourism has reopened and there are a few Indonesian tourists around in the areas I often go to, but not many. It certainly isn’t the solution to the economic woes of the island.
We have got so much to do. We’re now counting down by weeks, not months, until our deadline. Previously, the deadline was arbitrary, we just wanted to move in asap (provided the villa was finished). But suddenly a more pressing concern has appeared on the horizon – our current lease will expire soon.
Originally, when we started building, we had a year to go on our lease and we thought we’d be done with a few months to spare. Agus, our builder, had given us a 6 month build schedule and while we expected to go over time, we didn’t expect it to go down to the wire. We’d planned to move directly from our current home to our new villa, but the planets will need to align for that to happen.
In the last build update, I mentioned that we need more workers on the site. There was, and is, so much to be done. A week ago we only 15 workers on site, but now there are nearly 30. Agus has called in a lot of favours to get some new workers on site.
In an effort to speed up the project, Agus has also started paying the workers to do overtime. I’ve asked them to do the noisy work during the day and the quieter work in the evening to minimise the disruption to our neighbours. I wish the builders around me had done the same thing during the last 2 years as we had villa after villa spring up around us.
With more workers on site, doing overtime, they have been able to get through quite a lot.
Bending steel isn’t done by magic! Multiple tiny cuts to the frame are used to create the curve!
The cement has been poured to create the floor downstairs. It will be polished later. No point doing it now as it’s still a major thoroughfare for the workers.
The room we are preparing for our amazing nanny, Umi, is slowly coming together. I’ve arranged for the builders to clean up and use some of the various pieces of timber that are left over from construction to make her a bed frame.
Tiling in and around the pool
A lot of expats in Bali don’t have their own furniture. Most of the villas come fully furnished so there’s no need to buy furniture if you don’t want to. A few years ago, we were extending our lease on our current villa. We’d found it a year earlier. An Australian family had paid 5 years rent up front, upgraded it (e.g. new bathrooms, putting in a kitchen island, closing in the open kitchen living/dining) and made it their home. Then, they had a change of heart and moved back to Australia. We took over their lease. Soon after, the family asked us if we wanted to buy all their furniture very cheaply. They were now living back in Australia and didn’t want to return to Bali to dispose of it. Suddenly, we had a villa’s worth of furniture.
When we started planning this project, we hoped to have enough money left over to upgrade our furniture and get some new pieces too. Unfortunately, Covid has cancelled that plan! We’ll make do (and thank our lucky stars for what we have) until the world returns to normal.
Agus just sent us a bill. Nothing new with that scenario. He’s sent us plenty of bills during the bill as he completes the various stages of the build. Our contract breaks the payment schedule down into monthly stages and he receives payment when he completes a stage. What is unusual this time is that we already advanced him the second last stage (normally paid on completion), and the final stage isn’t paid until 3 months after we moved in. Time for some hard conversations! That money is our bargaining chip. It won’t be paid until the build is complete.
I’ve been very lucky to shoot some of the Mandala villas over the last few years (see here and here). But my favourite is Mandala The Rocks, which I shot early last year. Recently, my good friend Irene Hoff, who I interviewed for the second episode of the Bali Interiors Stories podcast invited me down for a mini-break. Perched on a cliff over the water, it was simply magical.
I took advantage of the time with Irene and her family to shoot her gorgeous daughter. As much as I love interiors, it’s fun to broaden my photographic horizons. See www.sheilaman.com for more.
I recently visited the gorgeous Villa Safia in Ubud. Walking down the magical path to get there with my talented friend Wendy from The Interior Tailor, it felt like we were entering a fairy land. Open living, facing the rice fields, and with a bohemian feel, Villa Safia feels like the perfect Ubud house. Stay tuned for the full spread of our shoot soon.