* Coconut’s multiple uses

An Indonesian proverb says “There are as many uses for the coconut as there are days in the year.” But even though nearly all parts of a coconut tree – from the leaves to the roots – hold economic value, actual raw coconuts sell at below market prices. It’s wiser to produce coconut milk, coconut oil, palm sugar and grated coconut which are all popular consumer goods. First use a parutan (grater) for producing coconut meat. After adding hot water, massage the coconut meat to release its milk, then use a cheese cloth to separate the liquid (milk) from the meat remnants. (What’s left of the coconut meat can be used for animal feed.) The milk is then boiled and cooled. The cream floats to the top over the coconut oil. Let it cool before separating the oil and the cream. In addition to these food products, flowers, brooms and mats can be made out of the leaves. Coconut husks (copra) can also be produced from coconut shells. Bags, baskets, placemats and tissue boxes made from coconut husks are sold (at inflated prices) at Ubud Market. Husks can also be used as kindling for fire. The warm golden color of the Ata grass basketry develops naturally from slow smoking over a fire of coconut husks soaked in honey. Use the leaves for canang (offerings), tamas (woven offering trays) and serabut (spongy skin) for brooms, mats and for planting orchids. Lidi (leaf spines) are used for making dish holders. Coconut wood is known for its beauty and hardness. Warning: Because of scorpions, take care collecting coconuts. Look closely first.

* What makes a good spa?

Qualities to look for are cleanliness, a nice décor, flowers, pleasant smelling aromatherapy scents, an interesting menu of treatments, products that are natural and good quality and staff and therapists who are friendly, well-trained, speak good English and who are enthusiastic about their treatments. If a therapist has bad acne and is giving facial treatments, why are they not taking better care of their own health and using products to improve their appearance? Also, does the spa adhere to a minimum standard of service? For a number of years there were no set standards for spas, but now thanks to the Bali Spa Wellness Association, steps have been taken to set standards and to work with the national government to organize meaningful training programs. The Jamu Spa School has also helped create new standards for therapists. Most good quality spas now offer training for their staff with certification upon completion. *Gay staff, who are professional, charming and highly skilled, is usually a good sign that it’s a place where you can feel safe. *Spas such as Prana are mostly for businessmen and male tourists. *If you see all the girls in a common area presenting themselves, you are not in a traditional spa. These masseuse, who are not known for their massage skills or healing practices in the strict senses of those words, offer spa treatments in Kuta for as little as Rp65,000 for one-hour whole body massage – ridiculously cheap!

* Travel hacks

Before you step on the plane to Bali, make sure you’re covered. SafetyWing, costing only US$37 every 4 weeks, is the world’s first travel medical insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers traveling or living abroad. *Best time to travel to Bali is between April and June when the weather is dry and warm. The dry season continues from July to September. *Virgin Australia now offers introductory direct one-way airfares from $299 or return tickets from $499 from Melbourne to Bali. (Book the return fares instead of the more expensive one-way flights.) Includes free 23 kg of checked baggage per person. These fares beat by far the average prices from Australia to Bali which run anywhere around $700, with a good deal coming in at $580. *Return fares for Citilink’s Perth to Bali flights start at about A$435 but are shown as US dollars on the website so passengers must be careful when booking. *Take advantage of unbelievably low world-wide airfares offered on Twitter accounts:;;; Set up alerts for new flight deals, but be aware that these super bargains may be time-sensitive. You can do the same thing on each of their websites by entering the URLs above into the Google search field.

  * Moneysavers

120 free scholarly academic books on Indonesia in English and Dutch, on subjects from the abstruse to the general, including language, history, ethnology, archaeology, culture, music, arts in every region of Indonesia: *GoJek is an amazingly cheap way to get around on motorbikes and also for ordering food. *Be careful with Airbnb if your rental is not legal; the authorities check Airbnb closely and sometimes pretend to be renters. *To find out if you have unclaimed assets waiting for you, go to website which has unclaimed asset listings from 41 U.S. states totaling billions of dollars. *Big trouble coming if we don’t reduce our carbon footprint in simple ways that will also save money. Avoid plastic bottles, waste less food, eat less meat, switch to more efficient light bulbs, turn off unused lights, take fewer plane rides and drive fewer miles by consolidating trips or taking public transport. Dispense with deodorants, perfumes and soap that contain petroleum-based chemicals which emit harmful pollution at levels comparable to cars and trucks. (Use Lux soap and Dove deodorants, soap and shampoo.) *Proficiency in Indonesian will open many doors and save immeasurable amounts of time and money in all corners of the country. *”Spend on others, and I will spend on you.” Prophet Mohammed.

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