The Frugal Balinist

* Nasi jagung

Also known as jagung kuning and beras kuning is a humble, nutritious and low-cost peasant dish that’s prepared by boiling 3 parts rice and one part broken yellow corn kernels in water. Soak the corn kernels first (as you would first soak dried beans). Regular rice costs Rp. 9,000-Rp10,000/kg while beras jagung costs Rp12,500/kg. Every good pembantu (housekeeper) knows how to make nasi jagung. If your pembantu is Javanese, she may want to use corn meal (tepung) to make it.



* Low-cost building materials

Because of wood’s exorbitant costs, builders are using less and less of it in building construction. Alternative building materials are often cheaper and also save considerable money in labor costs. Supporting columns (tiang) are now made of cement, whitewashed with plaster and then stained so that from a distance they appear to be made of wood. Ubiquitous batako (cement blocks) are now being replaced by hebel blocks (bata ringan) made of sand, cement, lime, gypsum and aluminum and glued together with a hard and fast glue. Hebel are twice as big as batako. For ceilings, kasibord (composition board) is used instead of more expensive bamboo matting which is now considered old fashioned by many Balinese. Expensive roof tiles (genteng) are now being replaced by roof shingles (genteng aspal), similar to the type used in Western climes, which cost anywhere from Rp130,000 to Rp240,000, depending on the quality. Door, window and roof framing (usuk dan reng) is now made of lighter baja (steel) which is impervious to termite infestation and one third of the cost of wooden framing.


* What to take back?  

When visiting a new village, city or locale in Indonesia, always ask the local inhabitants what their friends and relatives from other places ask them to bring with them when they visit. If a Balinese visits Java, they are often asked to bring back to Bali peanuts, soybeans, tofu, rice, salak pondok (Rp9,000-Rp10,000/kg), bananas, jeruk (citrus), Malang apples, watermelon; wood and batik. In turn, when a Javanese visits Bali, they’re asked to bring back to Java coconuts, Bali coffee, fruit, vegetables, baju Bali or kaos Bali (Balinese-style clothing), pie susu (small custard apple pies, Rp1000 each) and ikat (tie-dye fabrics or clothing). Also popular with Javanese are beras merah (red rice, Rp18,000-Rp20,000/kg in the villages, but twice that price in tourist areas; sarung pantai (beach sarongs, Rp35,000-Rp75,000); warm Selimut Bali (blankets), Rp75,000-Rp150,000 at Pasar Badung, Karangkunia (toko oleh-oleh Bali) and Sukawati.


* Money Savvy

It doesn’t pay to accuse someone in a store of skimming your credit card. Even if they are responsible, of course they’re not going to admit it. You’ll be the one leaving the store with the bad vibes. Skimming is the work of crime syndicates, rarely the person working behind a checkout counter. Though annoying and inconvenient, your bank most likely will give you a refund. *With an unlocked phone, head to any Grapari Telkomsel outlet where you can get hooked up with their Paket Combo for Rp105,000, giving you a whopping 18 GB of data for internet surfing and streaming, 4300 calls and 400 texts. You can sign up to auto-renew this paket every month, a much better deal than Telkomsel’s widely advertised 1.5 GB for Rp50,000. *Villa and guesthouse owners should be wary of guests who leave their property without paying their room and food bills. If caught, the offenders may respond that the service or food was bad (even if it wasn’t) or that they lost an item or money inside the room which they blame on a staff member. These are not valid reasons for not paying a hotel bill. If you report their misconduct to the authorities, the police will say that it is a matter of civil law and not criminal law and advise you to take your complaint to the Denpasar court. To avoid getting ripped off, ask guests to pay in advance when checking in.


* Foreigner No-no’s

A special Indonesian agency (Timpora), with a well-established and very active branch in Bali, is charged with monitoring the activities of foreigners. *Non-Indonesian citizens investing money in Indonesia must follow the rules established under the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM). *Aliens must hold a formal work permit if they are involved in any kind of employment, paid or unpaid, be it running a motorcycle rental or boat-for-hire business, working as an operations manager or opening a new bar, restaurant or guesthouse, etc. *Visa overstays can result in a fine of US$25 per day, deportation and black-listing of any future visits to Indonesia. *The type of employment a foreigner has must also conform with the work description written in their stay permit (KITAS), i.e. you can’t work outside your usually highly specialized role and only in the specific business designated in the permit. *In the last example, if you got a work permit to teach in a specific primary school, you are not allowed to work in another primary school nor teach any grades other than the primary grade in the aforementioned school. *Foreigners may not rent out villas without possessing a Smart Legal ID work permit (IMTA) or a temporary stay permit (KITAS).


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Copyright © 2019 Bill Dalton

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