May 23, 2018

U.S. Citizens Corner. Low income U.S. vets and their families are eligible for a non-service connected supplemental tax-free monetary benefit under “Aid & Attendance” on the Veteran’s Administration website. You must be honorably discharged, over 65 and served at least 90 days during the Vietnam war era (but not necessarily in combat). The application process is easier if you work with your local Veterans Service Officer who can guide you through all the daunting paperwork – for example, getting a hold of your original DD-214 discharge paper. You need a U.S. residential address to receive VA mail and notifications. Fill out the initial application properly (otherwise it will bounce back and prolong the process) and submit it asap to get the ball rolling, i.e. your pension will apply retroactively. Even if it takes six months, you’ll get all that “back pay.” This is real! Do it!


Get ready! Prices for rice, shallots, cooking oil, flour, milk, eggs, beef and chicken inevitably go up over the one-month fasting period leading up to Idul Fitri (Ramadan). Ticket prices on overflowing buses and planes will double. With hotel occupancy rates at 80% to 90%, room rates can easily increase by 100% during the unusually long weekend of Idul Fitri commencing Thursday 14 June when domestic tourists will be flooding into Bali, ferries from Java are packed and traffic congestion increases exponentially. Businesses will be closed, so change money and finish your orders. Residents should set aside Islamic holiday cash bonuses (THR), equal to one month’s salary, for every staff member (this is mandated by government decree). All Javanese workers return to Java to visit family, so get work done with your pembantu (maid), jok tukang (upholsterer), tukang kayu (carpenter) and with other tradespeople. Supermarkets such as Hardy’s, Ramayana, Robinson, Matahari and Carefour compete for customers by putting on Idul Fitri sales with discounts up to 50%!


Money Talks. Donating your time is frequently more valuable than donating your money. *When using an ATM, always cover your hand as you type in your PIN number. *Remove your ATM card quickly from the ATM’s slot or it will be declared invalid, resulting in you waiting in line at your bank to have your card reactivated. *Save money on quality used DVDs, bags, hats, shoes, books, jackets, jewelry, belts, skirts, dresses and baby clothes at Sanur’s Smile Shop, Jl. Pantai Sindhu 3, tel. 0361-233-758, 081-337-964-998. Open Tues-Sun. 10 am-5 pm. *It’s usually cheaper on Bali to rent a property through a friend than through an agent. *At Indonesian government offices, it behooves one to recognize coded messages. If you are repeatedly told “Come back tomorrow,” it means not enough money has been given over so far in various fees. *You don’t need a great deal of money to be a good father. With nets costing only Rp200,000 and rackets Rp150,000, what can be a cheaper and more delightful sport for a lawn or paved area than badminton? What does it cost to build a pillow fort in your living room on Sunday mornings? *Two all-pervasive rules of living in Bali: 1) Yang penting ada uang. “The important thing is money;” 2) Uang bicara. “Money talks.”


New Car Reality Check. In April 2018, Consumer Reports published their Annual Reliability Survey of 640,000 vehicles that revealed that first-year or redesigned models are more likely than older ones to have a wonky engine, jerky transmission or high-tech features that fail outright. The CR study covered 17 trouble areas from nuisances such as squeaks, rattles and broken interior trim to serious problems such as major engine or transmission repairs. Previous surveys also consistently showed that better things often come to those who wait. Problems most often arise when automakers incorporate new technology into their cars. For the fifth straight year, Toyota brands sit atop manufacturer rankings for new-car reliability.


Household Hacks. To re-stick a sticker on glass easily and quickly spray the back with WD-40. *Rule for storage water heaters: 50-liter tank for kitchen, 80-liter tank for bathroom, 100-liter tank for 2 bathrooms. *Dwellings should always be built with raised terraces around entrances to discourage snakes from entering living areas. *If you’re building, renovating or repairing, a crucial and hard-to-find glossary (with English translations) of Indonesian building terms can be found on Mr. Fixit’s website ( which will make it easier to communicate with a contractor or tradesmen. *Rooms on east side of house are warm and well-lighted early in the day, but will grow cooler as the day wears on, thus are well suited for bedrooms, kitchen and breakfast areas. *Hot season is ant season. Simple non-toxic methods of killing or repelling ants in the home is to form barriers to keep insects from crossing. Smear Vaseline Petroleum Jelly (Rp36m100/100 ml) around tops of pet food bowls and around edges of potted plant containers. Or place containers in a saucer or tray surrounded by a small amount of water.


HealthWise. Range hood filters should be cleaned at least every three months. The fan should be able to efficiently suck up particular matter while cooking which is then vented outside. Particulates, which are major irritants, especially for allergy sufferers, are then prevented from collecting inside the house. Allowing grease to build up on range hood filters can also be a fire hazard. *The sweet potato (ubi) is one of the world’s most nutritious foods, providing more nutrients per farmed area than any other staple. *Cap Garuda Baking Powder (Rp4000) in a sachet has a peculiar taste; better to use Hercules baking soda in a small red and white can. *Scrubbing with dry salt a skin area infected by the toxin of poisonous caterpillars (ulat bulu) is the only effective way to ameliorate itching. *Effective anti-mosquito measures: wear long, loose, light colored clothes, use local brands of repellant Autan or Soffell and a fan or air-conditioning when sleeping.


Anti-theft. Scammers will try just about anything to steal your money or your identity, so bogus credit card fraud alerts are widespread. To combat cheating and fraud, registering your hand phone number is now required within 30 days of when your number was blocked. Now the authorities can trace calls from people playing hoaxes such as sending urgent messages that your child is in the emergency ward, your father is being held at the police station, notifications of winning a grand prize, a new car or motorcycle – all remedied or redeemed by giving your PIN, transferring Rp5 juta rupiah, sending an administration fee or buying phone pulses for the swindlers.


Sinar Photo. (, with branches everywhere in Bali, is a great place to buy second-hand cameras, lenses and camera accessories. Give them a budget and what you need/want and their Live Chat service responds quickly. Often the money you spend on repair (such as replacing a LCD screen for Rp1 juta plus Rp300,000 for installation charge) you can buy a used camera in good condition. Their main shop is at Jl. Letda Made Putra, Komplek Pertokoan Udayana, Dauh Puri, Denpasar, tel. 0361- 254-322.


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Copyright © 2018 Bill Dalton

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