We have a 3-bedroom house with a spacious common space, kitchen and two bathrooms. I’m sharing it with another girl from Poland, Ewa, who is now slowly becoming my little sister. The latest update is that since two days ago we’ve had a new flatmate – Diana from Slovenia. Our house is big enough to have visitors staying over and I’d like to take this chance and officially invite my friends to discover Indonesia with me! Not sure yet how long I’ll stay in Bali, as I’m also planning to spend some time on other islands. There are around 17,000 of them (or more, according to some documentation, and depending on the level of the ocean), so a long journey is in front of me.
But if you decide to come and let me know in advance, I will be here to keep you company, help you drive your first motorbike, cross the road in this congested traffic, eat way too spicy food in your first warung, and then, as a result, perhaps overcome your first stomach revolution. Those were my greatest fears, and I experienced them all. I am still awaiting Dengue – a disease spread by mosquitoes, with symptoms including fever, terrible headache and willingness to die ASAP to get rid of them.
Initially, we were a cohort of 12 Darmasiswa students in Jimbaran searching for digs. Our coordinator, Bapak (Mr) Nyoman Rajin showed us several houses and boarding houses on the second day of our stay in Bali. I was not convinced by any of them, and gave myself another day to search. Some guys, including Fanni from Hungary, Ilija from Serbia (whose name sounds almost like mine and we never know if others say Ilija or Emilia), Pass from Thailand, and Eliyyahu from Fiji, decided on rooms in a kost (a kind of boarding house) offered by a lovely lady named Ibu (Mrs) Bunda. I was really tempted by her rooms and the way she acted towards us, but eventually the only one left was next to a bird that belonged to her and was noisy like hell. I didn’t believe our coordinator’s explanation that the bird was so loud because it was announcing that strangers have come. No one will ever convince me that birds are closely related to dogs in biological systematics.
Next day we continued in a smaller group, now by ourselves, without Bapak Rajin. Five of the students rented a lovely Japanese-style house. Me and Ewa were now the only homeless ones. But it was not long until we found our new place on Earth.
Looking for accommodation was how I imagine the door-to-door field methodology is in Nielsen studies. You walk along the street, knock on the door, and ask if there are any rooms available. We did very well as for the first time! A Balinese girl walked us around a few boarding houses, but they were all full. And she was apologising for not being able to help – the locals are adorable. Then me and Ewa, getting a bit hungry and tired of heat, asked in a few other houses. No luck.
Then we opened a big gate behind which we saw a little in-home manufacture of offerings: two women that looked like a mother and daughter were making beautiful compositions of flowers and banana leaves. These were offerings for gods that Hindu people place inside their house or at the entrance for protection. We spoke to a man named Rama, the only one of the three who answered in English. It quickly turned out that in this house he lives with his mother and wife, rents a few rooms nearby, and has a house for rent that we can reach via a short ride on a motorbike. ‘You no have bike? Have mine’. And he is leaving us with his motorbike, getting another one from his wife. ‘Bapak, we have never driven one’. Well, I have, but it was 15 years ago. I did not really feel experienced enough to ride a motorbike in this crazy traffic without a short introduction.
We must have looked funny with our facial expressions, as here in Bali everybody rides a bike. Families with babies, vendors with all their supply – they do not walk at all, even if the distance is very short. After literally a one-minute ride we arrived at our destination. Ewa behind Rama’s back, me behind his wife’s on the other bike.
We loved the house at first sight. It was spacious, relatively clean compared to what we’d seen until that point, and we negotiated on the price so in the end we went down to almost half of the initial price. We kept repeating that we are students and our monthly allowance is only 2.65 MM Rupiahs. Which is, I must sadly admit, true. But where else could I be a millionaire?
Below some photos showing what it is like to be a millionaire in Bali.