January 3, 2018

Kitchen helpers. Of immense and welcome help to expats and cooks in home kitchens are two books published by Jakarta’s American Women’s Association (AWA): A Jakarta Market (Rp100,000) is an easy to understand guide to local markets with descriptions of vegetables, fruits and spices listed by their Indonesian names, their common English names and their scientific names along with drawings for easy identification. Foods Galore (Rp150,000) is an invaluable cookbook designed to teach Bahasa Indonesian speakers how to cook Western recipes and to introduce expatriates to classic Indonesian recipes. Also included are household hints and a comprehensive glossary of cooking terms and ingredients. Visit www.awajakarta.org or contact Sunshine Biskaps at President@awajakarta.org. Sales of all AWA publications support AWA and its charities.


 Homemade Metamucil. The natural dietary fiber food supplement Metamucil – not available on Bali for love or money – prevents constipation by increasing water in the stool, thus making it softer and easier to pass. The only commercial alternative on Bali are tiny packets of the sickeningly sweet orange- or grape-flavored Vegeta (Rp22,500/12). Instead, make your own concoction by first buying two 150-gr packet (Rp46,000) of the natural bulk-forming laxative Psyllium husks at Green Habit Health Food Store (Jl. Raya Semer, Kerobokan, open Mon.-Sat. 10 am-7 pm), then mix it with 500 gr of organic fiber rich rice grain husk (kulit beras) milled with a food processor into a fine, less grainy powder. Don’t use rice husks from a farmer’s supply store (toko petani) that may be contaminated with chemical pesticide. Or simply add pure Psyllium husks to fruit juice or water but drink it immediately before it gels up. (If it becomes too thick when consuming, add more liquid and stir.) Rice husks along with a proper diet is used to treat high cholesterol and is a valuable source of phenolic acids which work as a natural antioxidant.


 Tops in Service. Antar Bangsa Funeral Service (Agus, hp 081-856-5110) is responsive, efficient and polite in dealing with all the processes required for remains of expats to be buried, cremated or repatriated: civil death certificate from the government, death certificate from a doctor, release from a hospital or morgue, cremation certificate. *American Indonesian Exchange Foundation (AMINEF at www.aminef.or.id) operates educational exchange programs between the U.S. and Indonesia (including Fulbright Scholarships), sponsoring thousands of students from both countries.


 Mita’s Corner. Asian women won’t generally use tampons or menstrual cups for cultural reasons, so commercial single-use sanitary pads are not popular. Menstrual pads are instead the product of choice. The main problem with single-use menstrual pads are the potentially dangerous chemicals they contain which are derived from the petroleum and forestry industries. Other problems are the significant cost for women living in poverty, the natural resources required to make them and the huge waste management issues they create when disposed of. There are sustainable alternatives for feminine hygiene products out there. An international NGO at www.daysforgirls.org is dedicated to empower girls and women worldwide by providing quality and safe sustainable menstrual products. The Rungu brand washable cotton feminine hygiene kits, made in Ubud, are made of unbleached 100% cotton flannel pads. Sold through www.dewirungu.com, this light, attractive kit has been adapted for tropical conditions. The flannel is imported from Japan.


Head off trouble. If busted with drugs, plead guilty to the lowest charge possible, refuse to give any media interviews and offer to settle immediately through an Indonesian intermediary. *It’s exceedingly difficult finding a trustworthy lawyer in Bali. *No longer a Sanur/Kuta/Seminyak problem, ATMs are now skimmed all over the island. To prevent skimming, withdraw cash only from ATMs inside banks. Keep the bulk of your funds in an account not connected to your card, so if your card is compromised, you don’t lose all of your money. Transfer online from your ‘safe’ account to your ‘withdrawal’ account as needed. *GOOD LUCK ever getting your money back. Indonesians don’t involve the police in any of their troubles because it ends up being just too expensive. *Don’t hire thugs for security staff; they frequently are dangerous criminals.


Tech Travel. Google Maps is the best for saving locations, jotting quick notes and navigating. *For finding hotels and flights, there is a world of difference between various online travel agencies. You may look up a flight on Priceline and then find the price is wildly different on Expedia. *For hotels, just pick one site that allows you to collect points or status and stick with it. *Couchsurfing, a popular platform for adventurous backpackers with 181,000 Indonesian members (49,000 in Jakarta alone), offers members free guest stays in members’ homes with no money exchanged and no expectation by hosts for future rewards. *Google Flights is extremely useful for finding different routes for itineraries; activate the feature that warns you of price hikes. *Solid info and tips from friends, family and fellow travelers are more reliable than using risky reviews written by strangers from TripAdvisor, Twitter, Lonely Planet forums, FlyerTalk and Reddit which may be paid for or written by shills. *Nintendo Switch portable console from Tokopedia, is a great way to kill time in between flights.


e-shopping. Shopping for jewelry, jackets, shoes, backpacks, cellphone accessories, smartphone covers and beauty care products at online sites tokopedia.com, Lazada, Bhinekka.com, xiaomi.id, blibli.com. OLX.com and blish.com. is becoming ever more popular. Check what items are the most popular first, find exact model number and then search for the item online. Delivery charges are usually around Rp20,000 (always check for free delivery first), but can be reduced if you meet drivers at KFC, Taman Kota, Hardy’s or another landmark near you. If buying directly from a seller, choose one who lives nearby so you can arrange a meeting to see the product. As it’s too easy for people to use a fake identity, never transfer down payments (uang depan). Also be aware of fake/refurbished/second-hand goods, an “International Warranty” that may not apply if your item is defective and sellers who may be locals who start up online shops and get their goods from various questionable suppliers. Remember Kalah membeli menang memakai. (“Cheap is cheap, i.e. cheap goods are dearest in the long run).


Competitive time deposits. There are some very decent rates for short term deposits in Indonesia, a lot better than in Australia. Shop around. All banks advertise different rates and the rates and terms constantly change. Some local banks offer rates higher than the big banks but can be riskier. For example, BPR and other small/mid banks offer substantial time deposit returns, as high as 12%, while “reputable” nation-wide banks such as BNI, Mandiri and HSBC Premier give only 6.5% to 7.5% per annum. They are as safe as your bank back home and, if within the governments declared interest rates, are insured. The standard withholding tax is 20%.


Please send your budget ideas, bargain deals and money saving tips to pakbill2003@yahoo.com.

 Copyright © 2018 Bill Dalton

You can read all past articles of The Frugal Balinist at www.BaliAdvertiser.biz