Category Archives: Bali

Home Sweet Home

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder. I’ll upload a more detailed post soon since I’m still battling jet lag but just wanted to say that I love being home!

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11 Things I Love About Bali

Following my rant last time, here are the top 11 reasons why I absolutely love Bali…

  1. Everyone is happy – I’m not joking when I say everyone. There are no divisions when it comes to happiness. Poor and rich alike have so much joy in their lives. And it is 100% genuine. Of course, all that happiness could be from the abundance of vitamin D.
  2. Everyone does what they love – OK, it may be slightly far reaching to say that everyone does what they love (unless sewage cleaning is your thing) but it certainly is true for many, many of my friends. Whether their love is dancing or jujitsu or traveling or surfing or building houses or eating, they all have no hesitation in doing it. And doing it with gusto, pride and happiness. And doing it 24/7. The vast majority of them do not have a ‘real’ job but instead make money doing what they love. It truly is a fantasy land here. I mean, where else is it possible to corral over a dozen of your friends on a Tuesday afternoon to have a pool day with you?
  3. There is an amazing and vibrant culture here – There are very few places in the world where such an exotic culture is still alive and going strong. Temples and historical sites are found all over the island – in fact, you can find a temple on almost every street corner. There are multiple festivals and religious holidays throughout the year. It’s a common occurrence to find the locals adorned in their traditional clothing on the way to a ceremony (there seems to be one every other day!). The moment you step into Bali, you know that you’re in a completely different place and I love that!
  4. The food is delicious – The food is delicious. Mouth-watering delicious. Forget everything else delicious. Did I mention that the food is delicious?
  5. Things are cheap – Compared to most of the world (and most certainly Vancouver), things in Bali are ridiculously cheap. Meals can be had for 70 cents, data plans for phones is $12/month, rent can be as cheap as $50/month (I’m paying $200/month), 19L jugs of water are $1.20, luggage can be as cheap as $12, massages can be had for $5/hour, and gas is only 45 cents a litre (for premium!). Of course other things are crazy expensive (like alcohol) but cheap outweighs expensive the majority of the time.
  6. Breathtaking scenery – lush green rice fields, towering volcanoes, sapphire blue ocean…. It really can’t get better than this.
  7. Travel hub – Being in SE Asia means that it is cheap to travel to other SE Asian countries. And any other Asian countries for that matter. And Australia. It’s really cheap to go to Australia. Being a bit of a travel bug, I found this highly convenient and useful. Of course, it’s only useful if you have money to fly out to these places but that’s beside the point.
  8. Fun nightlife – I’ve partied in a few different places around the world and I have to say that the nightlife scene here is unlike anything else. First off, you have club row where there are about a dozen clubs/bars that you can hop to from place to place (no cover!). Then you have the slightly more upscale bars and lounges in Seminyak. Then, if you really want to go all out, you can hit up the baller clubs/bars/lounges in Oberoi! And if that isn’t your scene, most restaurants have a live band that will serenade you during dinner. Oftentimes, they’ll even invite audience members on stage to belt out a song or two. The best impromptu performance I ever saw was at this bar, Vi Ai Pi, during happy hour. This Aussie got on stage, grabbed a guitar and starting tearing up Sweet Child of Mine. Truly amazing!
  9. The weather – Rain + sunshine + heat > rain + wind + snow + cold + gloominess + slush + hail.
  10. No judgement – Believe me when I say that nobody here cares about what you do or what you wear. There is no pretentiousness here and no judgement. Nobody cares if you’re carrying a $5000 bag or a 50 cent bag or whether you’re wearing makeup or going au naturale. No one cares if you’re wearing the latest $300 pairs of jeans or a ratty pair of surf shorts. And absolutely nobody cares who you work for, who you know or even who you are. I’ve met the most grounded and down to earth people only later to find out that they’re movie stars or hotel owners or billionaires. Bali is almost the complete opposite of Vancouver in that way.
  11. Absolute freedom – This last point kind of goes hand in hand with the previous one but there is absolute freedom to be yourself here. There is no judgement, there is no pressure, and there are no societal ‘rules’ that you must follow. Do what you want when you want. Be happy and be yourself. It’s truly hakuna matata.
It’s so hard to explain why I love Bali that I don’t think I did it justice with this post. It’s only something that you can fully understand once you’ve been here and experienced the culture, the people, the food etc. I’m so happy to be going home but at the same time so sad to leave. I love it here and I can’t wait to come back!
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10 Things I Hate About Bali

Only a few days left in Bali! It’s been unreal that this paradise has been my home for the last 6 months. It hasn’t been all smooth sailing though…

Here are the top 10 things I hate about Bali…

  1. Traffic – Everyday it feels like I’m in one big game of Mario Kart. You have to constantly be on the lookout for aggressive drivers on bikes/scooters, aggressive drivers in cars who drive like they’re on bikes, potholes the size of manholes and construction/garbage trucks that always spill their cargo on the road. Not to mention the fact that there is no Air Care here which means it’s a regular occurrence to drive through huge black clouds of exhaust fumes. Despite the fact that there are traffic lights here (when you can find them since they are regularly hidden by trees or 15 ft. back from the intersection), most drivers seem to consider them as suggestions and only follow them 50% of the time. Also, forget driving during 8-9am, 3-6pm, and 10-11pm – traffic is at standstill at most major roads (Sunset, Seminyak, Kerobokan, Merthandi, and Bypass).
  2. Slow internet connection – If you’re lucky, and I’m talking extremely lucky, you’ll be able to find 1Mbps for internet speed. If you’re unlucky, like 99% of the population, the fastest speed you’ll be able to get is about half that. If you’re a homeowner and would like internet at home, expect to shell out anywhere from $60-$700(!!!!) depending on the speed you want.
  3. No hot water – I’ve been living without hot water the entire time I’ve been here and despite Bali being a tropical, humid climate, there are several times when you just want a hot shower! Especially if you just spent 20 mins riding through freezing rain. And yes, I could have spent a couple more hundred bucks a month to have hot water but even that isn’t reliable. If an upscale place like the W Hotel has constant hot water problems, I’m positive a koskosan would have them as well.
  4. Lawlessness – Rules are for chumps and poor people. Traffic lights are suggestions. Anything is possible here as long as you pay off the right person.
  5. Corrupt officials – Don’t trust any authority figure here as they will try to rip you off. Cops will constantly pull over bules (foreigners) for the slightest infractions and threaten them with a ticket, court date or even jail in order to make some money. Same thing with immigration officials, custom officers and the like. This brings me to my next point…
  6. Everyone trying to rip you off – It doesn’t matter if you’re a local or a bule, you will still get ripped off. I’m not even sure family members are immune from this.
  7. Bureaucratic BS – If you ever need to get anything official done, like renew your visa or sort out your immigration problems, have fun! Rules are archaic, inefficient and ever-changing. You can follow every process and every step and still something will be wrong with your application.
  8. Pollution – There is a complete disregard for the environment here. This paradise island is slowly dying to the amount of waste and pollution. Obnoxious tourists, who would never litter back home, have no problem littering here. Locals will throw their garbage anywhere and everywhere. The garbage will clog the ditches which causes the roads to flood whenever it rains. The garbage also finds its way to the beaches and ocean. There’s next to no recycling and you can forget about Air Care. You can’t completely fault the locals however as environmental care has never been in their culture or upbringing. That’s something that needs to change in their education system.
  9. Lack of professional pride – No one cares about their jobs enough to do a good job. Walk into any store and you can find the staff standing around gossiping and chatting. Beyond a quick hello, expect no help until you have to ask for it. Forget special requests, the answer will always be NO – not because they can’t do it but because they don’t want to spend the extra time to make it happen. Countless friends who have staff have mentioned that unless they are there to micromanage every move, nothing will ever get done. The moment they leave the office or their home, the staff will immediately cease working. Also, no one is empowered to make any decisions. They always pass the buck to someone else who passes the buck to someone else and so forth. You could talk to 4 or 5 people before you find someone who has the answer to your problem. If I were to go on a hiring spree here, I would only hire 5 people. That’s the amount of people that have impressed me with their work ethic the entire time I’ve been here.
  10. Lack of sanitation/hygiene – B.O is not a good smell. Ever. Oh, and I would appreciate it if you washed your hands before you prepare my food. Thanks.

And lest you think that I completely hate this place (which is the furthest from the truth), stay tuned for my next post about the top 11 things I love about Bali. And yes, it’s 11 because the positives always have to outweigh the negatives.

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Home, Twitter, Canucks

A few things…

  1. I’ll be home May 4th! Leaving the beautiful island of Bali on the 30th and visiting Hong Kong for a few days. Will be nice to see my family and eat yummy (!) Chinese food. Including the best*** xio long bao I have ever had in my life. I’m sad to leave the life that I built here but I excited to be home and see my family, friends and Halo.
  2. I’m looking for a job so if you know of any openings, please let me know!
  3. I finally joined twitter. You can follow me @itspchan
  4. My beloved Canucks are awesome! Go Canucks Go!!!
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No Nyepi…

This Saturday (March 5th) marks the Balinese New Years also known as Nyepi. There are several parts and rituals to the celebration including:
Melasti: This happens a few days before Nyepi and involves the purification of all sacred objects. Taken from all the temples, the objects are then purified in the sea.

Bhuta Yajna: In order to appease the evil spirits, the Balinese make ogoh-ogoh (paper statutes made from bamboo and shaped in grotesque forms). Then, on the day before Nyepi, many of the major streets are shut down for the ogoh-ogoh parade. The young village men will parade these statutes around all day until they are burnt at night. This symbolizes the death of all evil spirits.
Nyepi: This is also known as the “Day of Silence” because the ENTIRE island shuts down for 24 hours (6am-6am). That means absolutely no one is allowed to leave their homes (hotels if you’re a tourist) or make any noise. No electricity should be used either – that means no a/c, no lights, no TV etc. If you must switch a light on, it cannot be seen from outside or else the Pecalang (the traditional security force) will come by and demand you turn it off. If they find you outside of your home, they will physically escort you home. The airport is even shut down for the day and all Indonesian television stations are asked not to air anything in Bali.
The reasoning behind this is because the Balinese people do not want to attract the attention of any evil spirits that may be flying over the island. If the entire island is ‘dead’, the evil spirits will fly away because they’ll think no one lives there.
I’m actually quite sad that I’m missing out – I would have loved to see the ogoh-ogoh parade and the chaos that it creates. Apparently in years past, they’ve made the ogoh-ogoh look like George Bush, Osama bin Laden and even Godzilla!
It would have also been very interesting to experience a quiet Bali – no cars honking, no scooters whizzing by, no one screaming at each other…
But, because of a few different reasons, I flew to Kuala Lumpur 2 days ago and won’t be back in Bali until the 8th – well after the island is back to normal. More on my thoughts of KL next…
(Click here to read more on Nyepi)
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