December 10 2014

December 10, 2014

*Electronic scams: Skimming at ATMs is the most common type whereby a skimmer has been installed inside the card reader and a tiny camera somewhere in the booth or close to the keypad to record PIN numbers. Always cover the keypad when typing in your PIN, even though a PIN shield may already be installed. Be extremely wary of ill-fitting keypads, which may indicate that it had been tampered with. Keep your bank’s call center number on your mobile so that you can report immediately if there’s a problem. Apply for your bank’s mobile banking service, in which your password is sent to your mobile phone, in order to allow you to conduct ATM transactions safely without having to use your debit card. When using a credit or debit card, make sure that it’s a chip-embedded and not one with a magnetic strip. Now that credit cards are equipped with chip technology, the incidence of credit card fraud in Indonesia has fallen dramatically. As added security, banks such as Mandiri and BNI now use six-digit PINs for all their cards. Finally, don’t just hand over your card to a waiter or shopkeeper; you should witness them swiping your card once (not twice) on an electronic data capture (EDC) machine or cash register. Your banking data must not be kept on merchant’s machines!

*Brace yourself: Get ready for Galungan and year’s end when prices go up for produce, meat, transport, etc. Holiday souvenirs are cheap as it’s a buyers market because of so many traders. Cops will be everywhere to fill yearly quotas in order to get promotions; wear helmet and have SIM and other documents in order. If traveling to Java, get an early start as roads are unusually busy. Post holiday parcels and greeting cards early before post offices get crowded and delivery times slow down. Use toilet paper rolls to secure ribbons and wrapping paper. Australian “schoolies” arrive by the thousands in Bali for their year-end school holidays causing heavy traffic congestion in south Bali. Private vehicles entering Bali will clog Gilimanuk port and 150-200 flights will be added to and from Bali to anticipate the significant rise in passengers. Don’t wait for last minute to book year-end multi-day holiday hotel packages – even budget hotels – as middle-class domestic tourists and high school students flock to Bali; if you wait you’ll be facing much higher room rates. As Galungan and Xmas approach, foreign companies transferring part of their profits at end of the year to their overseas parent companies will mean a surge in demand for US dollars, causing the Rupiah to weaken severely. Order your penjor pole for around Rp1.5 million. Look for promotional signs for pulsa and Internet at mobile phone shops (Toko HP) and sidewalk vendors. Don’t wait too long to book New Year’s Eve parties at Hard Rock in Kuta, Warisan in Kerobokan, Watergarden Kafe in Candidasa, Lestari in Seminyak, and many more. Get the new Balinese calendar that gives all the dates for government and religious holidays as well as holy days for temples, auspicious days for family ritual events for 2015.

*Save money with Pinterest: This free social network site lets its 17 million users create “boards” from around the Web on which they can congregate around and share information on specific topics. Essentially scrapbooks of images, blogs, infographics and videos, cruise through the boards and drill down into your specific subject: batik fashion, tempe recipes, yoga, do-it-yourself garden projects, shopping sites or online stores, Bali markets, tropical tree and shrub guide, jam and home wares stores, shops, beach shopping, budget housing, affordable villas and bungalows, short term rentals; where to buy flower, wooden blinds, hammocks, ceramics, batik, recycled paper products. A zillion practical money saving and Rupiah pinching tips. Tutorials on how to sew, surf, clean your whole house in one hour, make a rug or rain barrel, laminate furniture, build a faux stone walkway or wicket fencing, make your own pickles, how to tie a sarong. Pinterest lets hobbyists and craftspeople link pictures from your computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone. A fun, simple way to share things you like and meet others with similar interests around the world, the site can also be used to organize events and promote your stuff.

*Restaurant of the Month: Kampoeng Kepiting (Crab Village) is just 5 minutes from Ngurah Rai Airport (to the east), on the north side of the toll road, Bali’s most beautiful highway. Specialty are seafood dishes, the most popular being their signature spicy hot crab (Kepiting Tol Bergoyang) sautéed in herbs and spices (bumbu genep) and black pepper sauce. Prices (including rice) depend on size (300 to 500 gr) and range from Rp80,000 to Rp300,000; medium sized crab is around Rp110,000. A local fishermen’s group breeds crabs in the nearby ecotourism facility, so guaranteed fresh. Also grilled mackerel, fish head soup, mangrove salad and a unique sugarless mangrove juice drink (pidada); non-spicy crab dishes Kepiting Soka, Kepiting Jumbo and Kepiting Sedang. Building is in the style of a typical Indonesian stilted wooden house (rumah panggung). Enjoy the green one-of-a-kind panorama of the mangrove forest and tidal mud flats. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., but try to time your arrival for sunset. Address: Kampoeng Kepiting, Ekowisata Mangrove Wanasari. Jl. Bypass Ngurah Rai, Tuban. The restaurant’s thatched roof gazebos can be seen from the airport roundabout.

*Smart TV: The Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI) has designated 7 cartoon programs on Indonesian TV channels as educational and fun for viewing by children: Dora the Explorer, Disney Junior, Adit Sopo Jarwo, Laptop si Unyil (Unyil’s Laptop), Curious George, Thomas and Friends and Unyil Keliling Dunia (Unyil Goes Around the World). Learning specialists believe that these child friendly cartoons supplement schools’ educational material and help support kid’s development in the process. KPI deemed cartoons unsuitable were Tom and Jerry, Bima Sakti and Little Krishna. Shows such as Spongebob Squarepants and Japanese cartoons Crayon Sin-chan and Naruto – although entertaining – need parental guidance because they contain some nudity, hitting and violence. Most parents consider Doraemon, the world’s most popular futuristic cat and titular character of the long-running manga Japanese comic as harmless, albeit a tad vacuous. Kids particularly like the cutesy character’s array of magical gadgets such as the Bamboo Propeller, Door to Anywhere and Magic Circle.

*Instant inflation: Economists have predicted that inflation will balloon to more than 7% this month from the current 4.8% because of the fuel price increase in November. Since businesses just use the fuel hike as an excuse to dramatically increase prices and services, the fact of the matter is that inflation will be much steeper than 7%.? A 25-kg bag of rice just went up from Rp215,000 to Rp280,000; green tea (150 gr) skyrocketed overnight from Rp12,000 to Rp19,000, bus rides to central Java rose from Rp200,000 to Rp300,00, a truckload of sand has gone up from Rp1,200,000 to Rp1,600,000 and the new tariff for passenger vehicles on the Java ferry increased from Rp135,000 to Rp150,000. Policemen now laugh when you try to pay your “fine” for a traffic violation with a Rp50,000 note; the current rate is now Rp100,000.

*Minitips: Ditch the credit card and instead spend money, which you already have. Eat well in Ubud at Nomad on main road, Hana in Peliatan and Ibu Rai near football field, all for under Rp100,000. Best free thing to do in Ubud is to walk in the ricefields behind Puri Lukisan and to the right (look for sign). If you meet an Indonesian girl named after a precious stone, flower or royalty – Bunga, Intan, Lili, Dahlia, Mawar, Indah, Putri, etc. – don’t ask what she does for a living. Put a brick in the toilet cistern so that it uses less water to flush, saving water and electricity. Is that piece of clothing a bargain? Turn the garment inside out and make sure that the seams are flat, not raised, which can irritate the skin. When shopping online in Indonesia, always look for the presence of a VeriSign logo that verifies that the site has security certification. Do “batch cooking” by preparing for example a large amount of spaghetti sauce, divide it into family-size portions, then freeze promptly for meals later. Never buy Indonesian products in Western bule supermarkets like Pepito, Bintang, Papaya, Bali Deli, Tiara Gatsu, etc. where they cost 20-30% more. Tend a few small herb plants in pots on your terrace and make your own bean spouts. One pound of peanut butter can contain up to 150 bug fragments and 5 rodent hairs. Don’t ride your car’s brakes or clutch or you’ll wear them out and face expensive repair costs. To get rid of hair lice, use Peditox (Rp8000, 50 gr). Buy brand names; hundreds of problematic goods that lack quality standards, warranties, instructions and proper labels flood the Indonesian market, in particular electronics, cell phones, cosmetics and household items. You’ll probably regret getting tattoos with pictograph lettering, tribal symbols, song lyrics or people’s names. A wise man should have money in his head, not in his heart.

*Buy Indonesia! The vast number of consumers (third largest after China and India) and relatively low level of manufacturing has resulted in imported consumer products flooding Indonesia’s market. Though Chinese-made products are invariably cheaper, you shouldn’t make purchasing decisions based on price alone. Safety issues must also be considered. China has a well-deserved reputation for producing inferior and often dangerous products as diverse as lead-filled children’s toys and dolls, shoddy steel fabrication work, sulphurous drywall, pet food spiked with melamine and excessive sulphates. Rather than save a few bucks and get a cheap imported tablet you can’t rely on, you’re better off going for a better-quality import like Samsung. There also a multitude of products – from food, fashion to arts and crafts – made in Indonesia, which are affordable and trustworthy: Maspion (appliances), Broco (electrical); Gunnebo (security safes and fire extinguishers); Nikicio, Ramune, Five Thirteen, Patrick Owen, Binca, Edward Hutabarat (fashion); Lea Jeans (jeans); Dowa Bag and Tulisan (women’s handbags); Yongki Komaladi (shoes); Marta Tilar (cosmetics); Cap Gajah Minyak Kayuputih & Cap Gajah Minyak Telon (baby oils); Johnson & Johnson (baby cosmetics); Kue Lapis Surabaya (layer cake), Brunswick Indonesia (billiard tables), Khyber Pass (outdoor gear)’ Tea Botol Sosro (tea drink), Tolak Angin by Sido Munncul (herbal medicine).

*Price perception: When considering the value of an item, don’t think in dollars, pounds, Yen or Deutschmark. Think instead in Rupiah! Never say, “That’s only $8 dollars!” but say “That’s almost Rp100,000!” One hundred thousand rupiah has the same emotional impact as $20 in the West. People’s upbringing, background and socioeconomic status determine whether they feel a particular item or service is expensive or not. A Javanese friend, who was raised in very humble circumstances, perceives a package of moth balls (Rp17,000), ikat-style throw blankets (Rp100,000) soft leather sandals (Rp60,000), full-colour kids magazines (Rp22,000) and a huge amount and variety of snacks for a household odolan (Rp150,000) as expensive whereas I view these prices as fantastic bargains compared with prices in the States or Europe. Bargaining in Indonesian – or even better in Balinese – is the most effective way of saving money in Bali.

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Copyright  2014 Bill Dalton
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