November 8, 2017

Serutan onion slicer. Bawang merah kecil (small red onions OR shallots) are an indispensable ingredient in a whole array of Indonesian sauces and dishes like soto, gado-gado, bakso, satay, nasi goreng, etc. The flavors of the big red and white onions popular in the West just don’t cut it. Ordinarily, shallots are a bit difficult to slice because of their small size. The wooden serutan is a quick and easy way to shave them without tears and leaves no onion smell on the skin. Costing Rp75,000 to Rp100,000 in Bali’s traditional markets, this marvelous traditional implement with one fixed blade may also be used to shave garlic and make all kinds of thin chips (kripik) from unripe banana, cassava and sweet potato; kripik tempe from soybean cake and for shaving peanuts for peanut fritters/brittle (peyek kacang). Though wood is more difficult to sanitize, it’s also tougher than plastic kitchen tools.


Health is Wealth. Just because you get free BPJS consultations and medications at your local puskemas clinic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t avail yourself of the services of another larger, better equipped and staffed puskemas outside your area by just paying a very reasonable Rp15,000 co-payment for a GM (dokter umum) or Rp50,000 for dentist (poli-gigi). *BPJS doesn’t cover accidents or cosmetic surgeries. *If you get hurt in a road accident (kecelakaan), flood (banjir) or natural disaster (bencana alam), call Jasa Raharja for hospital treatment. *If you know you’re about to experience extreme pain, bite a rolled up towel.


Household hacks. Protect bamboo against beetles and termites by coating it with Ultran Yunior Politur (Rp45,000/lt). *Make sure that the wood you use for your building project is aged, otherwise it won’t last a year. * sells high quality bedding and towels at reasonable prices (they also do custom sizes). *Baking sheets (kertas bakar), available at any toko alat2 kue (bakery supplies shop), feels like paper but amazingly doesn’t burn and serves the same purpose as aluminum foil.


Travelwise. I just got back from a grueling New York-Saudi-Singapore-Bali flight, an experience that taught me that passengers may take as many 4 oz. plastic containers (buy at Dapur Prima) as they want and that carrying any tool more than 7” inches long is prohibited. My nine-inch long $72 framing stapler barely squeaked by after I insisted that it was not a tool but office equipment. TSA officers must be able to inspect baggage contents, so only special TSA sanctioned locks – available at most airports and travel stores – that can be opened by security officers using universal “master” keys are acceptable. *Take photos of your rented motorbike so its owner won’t ask for supposed repairs for damage when you turn it in. *Be skeptical of drivers on Bali who claim that the accommodations you want to stay in is closed, then offer to take you to another one nearby (for which he’ll get a cut). *The medium priced Avanza is the most popular Toyota for Indonesian consumers. *At a price cheaper than most other luxury cars in Indonesia, Prestige Image Motorcars in Pluit, North Jakarta sells US-made Tesla Model X electric cars starting from US$200,000. *If you’ve been overcharged by Uber, file a complaint with them via email and the company will reimburse you via Uber credit.


Techie tips. Always connect to free Wi-Fi to cut down on the use of your expensive data paket. *Use a microfiber cloth to clean grease, dust and bacteria off your smartphone’s screen, speaker grates, charging port and headphone jack; a mix 1 to 1 alcohol and water is even better. *Repair the malfunctioning autofocus feature on your SLR at Sinar Photo, Jl. Waturenggong 137 (tel. 0361-247-762) in Denpasar for Rp350,00-Rp400,000. *Programs that invade your screen to warn that your computer is full of viruses and worms are often spyware or scams themselves.


Garden pointers. MAGICgro G7 (Rp81,000/998 ml) is a safe, effective and environmentally friendly organic pesticide for controlling pests and plant diseases. *In preparation for the upcoming rainy season, start work raising your garden beds. *Urban farming ( saves money and assures that what you eat is free of pesticides. With good exposure to sunlight, as many as 20 different vegetables – spinach, kale, melon, lettuce, etc. – can be grown on a 3-sq-m balcony by using hydroponic planting techniques.


Moneywise: Fill your own water bottle instead of wasting money and the earth buying plastic water bottles. *Gojek accounts are hacked, so ignore people who call to tell you that you’ve won a prize and need to enter a code on your phone to claim it. *Don’t buy prepaid Gojek and Grab accounts because often drivers don’t show up but your account is still charged. *If you’re in doubt about the amount you’re gifting is proper or fear that the money will be declined, just say that it is for their children. *Indonesians say “When you report a missing chicken to the police, you lose a goat.” *Be aware that the law favors Indonesians who overwhelmingly win legal battles against foreigners. *Indonesians arriving at international airports cut off price tags and remove items from plastic sleeves in order to avoid paying import and luxury taxes on goods worth more than $250. *Indonesia’s anti-graft body KPK reports that 40% of state regional budgets are lost as a result of corruption. *UUD (pronounced ooh-ooh-deh) or Ujung-Ujungnya Duit: “At the end is money.” It takes money to speed up a new passport, driver’s license or business permit.


Life hacks. According to Indonesia’s Central Statistics Agency (BPS), unmarried Indonesians are happier compared to those who are married or divorced. *Indonesian Mixed Marriage Society (Perca) and Indonesian Diaspora Network (IDN) are organizations that give advice to mixed marriage couples and families. *Resident Americans will find invaluable for learning about new US tax regs, voting, US immigration laws, US Consular messages, etc.


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 Copyright © 2017 Bill Dalton

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