Bali: The Pros and the Cons
By Amy Chavez
For The Bali Times
The first time I came to Bali I rented a car. A guy rented me a fully loaded vehicle for what I considered to be an incredibly low price. “Are you sure it has air conditioning?” I asked. This was my main concern as I had just come from sub-zero temperatures in my country and had not quite adjusted to the tropical climate yet. “Oh, yes,” he assured me, “it has very good air conditioning.”
Ten minutes later, I was sitting in Kuta traffic when I realized that the car’s air conditioner was indeed broken. It was no big deal; I just adjusted faster to the tropics than I had planned. But that incident has forever been referred to as “the air-con.” It was the beginning of the many cons I would encounter in Bali, most of them, thankfully, merely small in-con-veniences.
For example, while still in that original vehicle, I encountered the poor con-ditions of the roads, filled with potholes that not only acted as inverted speed bumps, but in addition ensured you’d never fall asleep at the wheel. Nor could I help noticing the con-tributions to greenhouse gasses as I joined the other exhaust spewing traffic around the island.
I soon encountered the con-stant presence of policemen standing on the side of the road luring drivers into their license-check con-traptions where several cops stop traffic in roadblock style. Upon con-sidering the international license you have shown them, they con-jecture that you have committed a petty violation of the traffic rules. They assure you, however, that a small con-tribution will fix the problem. Although I never thought I’d con-sider paying off cops, especially for a violation I didn’t commit, I learned to listen to the con-ventional wisdom and just be done with it. Getting pulled over, I would learn, is one of the con-sequences of being a tourist.
I encountered the con-ditions that must be met to renew your visa and learned the art of con-sciously doing favors and con-tinually greasing palms just to get normal things done. I learned about land con-tracts where you must give a portion of the land purchased back to the owner — a huge con-trast to how things are done in my country.
But even now, with the low dollar-to-rupiah con-version rate, there are many more pros than cons here. There are pro-active people doing charity work such as the East Bali Poverty Project and the Bali Adoption Rehabilitation Center for dogs. There are people pro-testing violence and pro-moting Bali Loves Peace.
There are pro-fits to be made in the export business and here you can find local companies willing to pro-duce for smaller designers and work with them on pro-totypes, no matter how small the pro-ject.
Here in Bali, one of the spiritual centers of the world, you can pro-be the meaning of life, your own spirituality or the spiritual arts: there are pro-fessional artists, dancers and performers. Bali pro-vides all forms of indulgences, from spas and massages to pro-vocative and sultry nights out at famous Kuta nightclubs.
At the same time, comfort can be found in even the smallest things, such as a pro-per cup of Bali coffee served to guests as per local pro-tocol, or in the cheerful pro-letariat that help you on the street when you are lost. With the pro-mise of beautiful, friendly Balinese people at almost every turn, it’s no wonder you’ve pro-crastinated in buying that airline ticket home.
Perhaps you are even in the pro-cess of pro-curing a Bali house of your own. The island pro-ffers a more laid back lifestyle, and you know that you can pro-bably live well here affordably. But each person’s decision to live in Bali is surely even more pro-found.
Pro-active Amy is a con-tinual source of Bali inspiration and can be reached at email@example.com.Filed under: Arts & Entertainment