When I first started going back and forth between Bali and Australia, one’s own immediate circle of ex-pat and local friends was crucial in giving you advice about good visa agents, dodgy plumbers, local rip-off schemes and businesses that cheated you and every manner of dodgy or reliable person or company. However, in those days, and that’s only ten years ago, all this advice came via word-of-mouth. The other big drawback to this form of collective wisdom and recommendation was limited to the network’s experience. Step outside this safety zone and you could be ripped off, disappointed or have a hard time finding answers to your questions. Collectively, Bali ex-pats longed for better information channels. As the numbers of foreigners living in Bali increased dramatically, particularly over the last five years, these channels have formed. In this column, I’ll tell you about the most popular, reliable channels to keep informed on everything from new visa regulations, to finding a good electrician, to spreading the word about possibly compromised ATMs to where to buy unusual ingredients.
For those of us who are longer-term ex-pats, remember the Singapore visa run request lists? When people heard you were heading to the Lion City, you’d have a long list of requests – I used to cap my requests at about six people – otherwise, you spent your time running around Singapore searching for jars of Vegemite. I have hauled laptops back and forth – two at a time, once — sourced obscure vitamins, brought back specialty food items, essential oils, the list goes on. Now, thanks to a dramatic increase in goods and services catering to the ex-pat community, and a proliferation of specialized Facebook pages, you can find pretty much everything you need in Bali and have most of your queries answered.
Facebook seems to be the go-to social media resource for Bali ex-pats. The Bali Ex-Pat Community Page has 14,038 members, and is a good general starting point and place to ask questions from the basic to the obscure about staying or living in Bali. In addition, smaller enclaves have been setting up their own Facebook pages, which offer better local information and advice exchange for specific communities. There are now Canggu Community (53,000 members), Canggu & Seminyak Community (18,000 members) and Sanur Community (6,102 members) pages. For Ubud, there are Community Ubud (3,605 members) and Ubud Community (69,946 members) pages.
In the recent past, all questions about rideshares, buying and selling, or renting houses could also found on the general community pages, but people have now set up special pages for these topics. Pages such as Canggu Community Housing (19,000 members), Sanur Property (2,213 members) and Bali Buy, Swap or Sell (37,960 members) aid with these issues. Ubud, Bali – Housing & Rental (15,485 members), Ubud Houses and Accommodation (1,509 members), Ubud Rentals (15,318 members) and Ubud Long Term Villa Rentals (2,111 members) are all good sites for finding or listing properties for rent in or near Ubud. Ubud has two trade pages: Ubud Buy and Sale (2,600 members) and Buy and Sell in Ubud (6,582 members). For those seeking to share taxis or rent cars together, several pages focus on ridesharing: Ubud Ride Share (1,302 members), Bali Shared Rides (330 members) and the Ubud Sanur Canggu Lovina Ride Share Taxi page ((1,032 members).
Digital Nomads, whose numbers seem to be ever increasing in Bali, have their own pages now: check out Bali Digital Nomads (6,805 members), Ubud Digital Nomads (735 members) or Canggu Entrepreneurs & Digital Nomads (1,000 members). Bali Expat Jobs (35,335 members) is a fairly new page for people seeking to work together or posting job opportunities. This page is also popular with people who are seeking to move to Bali and don’t realize that it is very difficult for ex-pats to work legally in Indonesia and must be cautioned, in the face of their enthusiasm to simply pick up and move to Bali. The job pages are also good for answering legal and visa questions.
I have to put a big shout out for the Bali Travel Forum page (24,726 members), a labor of love from Clare McAlaney, a writer from Western Australia, who spent a few years living in Bali. She saw the need for a Facebook page that could answer visitor questions about everything travel-related in Bali. She was my go-to resource during the times of smoking volcanoes in Java and Lombok, as she and her admins posted daily updates on airport closures and flight cancellations. I was stranded in Australia at one point and relied on information from this page to get me back when the airport re-opened. Thousands of people have relied on Clare and her team to get information at times when travelers could not reach their airlines or get answers about flight cancellations and ticket refunds, or insurance. Sadly, Clare will be closing down the page in a few months, due to work demands and the personal cost of having to deal with a handful of Internet trolls. Hopefully, she will pass the managing of the page on to someone who is willing to keep it going. In addition to Clare’s page, a new page called Mount Agung Daily Report (8,459 members) provides all the latest scientific information about Mount Agung’s pending eruption, including information about possible aviation ash advisories.
Two other pages called Bali Tourists Questions and Answers (15,441 members) and Bali Travellers Information (8,435 members) also offer travel advice to tourists and visitors. There are also the Eco Travel Bali (1,785 members) and Bali Backpacker Community (16,000 members) pages that answer questions posed by eco-friendly and budget or backpacker travellers. For more in-depth focus on Balinese culture, check out Ubud Now & Then, maintained by Rio Helmi, a local photographer and blogger. Rio has been very involved in getting accurate information regarding Mount Agung’s looming eruption, riding his motorbike up into the exclusion zone and helping to bring supplies to the refugee camps and post updates about the volcano’s status and conditions in the camps.
The Bali Advertiser newspaper is also a good way to stay in touch with what’s happening around Bali and Indonesia. Published every second Wednesday, the paper features columns by local writers and lots of information about upcoming events. In addition to the hard copies found at many local restaurants and shops, Bali Advertiser is also online, where you can find all past archived articles and columns. If you’re looking for a paper copy to read, Ganesha Books usually has them – but they go quickly. The Bali Advertiser has some great columns that focus on local events, such as the Ubud News and Canggu News. The Frugal Balinist column always has great tips and advice, cost saving recommendations and the like. If you’re interested in local culture or environmental issues, you shouldn’t miss Ibu Kat’s column, GreenSpeak.
While this is a fairly comprehensive list, it is by no means exhaustive. Please email me if I’ve accidently overlooked your page.
SOCIAL MEDIA BYTES
Email Liz at LizinBali@gmail.com
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