The Frugal Balinist

* Custom order!

To a certain extent you are able to special order signature Indonesian dishes even at lowly rolling food vendors (kaki lima) and warung (food stalls). If you don’t see MSG (ajinomoto or micin) in a container in the warung’s cooking area, it means that it has already been added to the broth of the soto ayam, bakso or nasi goreng, mie goreng, etc. (No MSG is used in the grilling of fish or ikan bakar). If you do see it, it usually means that MSG hasn’t been added yet because they want to use it as a fresh ingredient while cooking to give the dish a deeper flavor. Ask the server not to include it, “Jangan kasih micin” or point to it and say “Saya tidak mau itu.” You can also dial down the spiciness of a dish with “Jangan kasih banyak sambal” or the sweetness of a dish “Jangan terlalu manis.”


* Shopping tips

At Seminyak’s Bintang Supermarket, one of the largest supermarkets in Bali, a whole aisle is dedicated to Indonesian and Chinese incense. *Cheaper to buy in Bali than Australia is Yakult yoghurt drinks (A$1), hair care products like Clearasil facewash (A$2.50), toothpaste like Sensodyne, baby needs, Bali coffee, power adaptors and practically all household goods from bath and toiletries to kitchen and lingerie. *Bali Discovery (tel. 0361-464-032/0361-471-0242 is offering real bargains while supplies last: US$250 per night at the Apurva Kempinski Bali; US$125/night at the Mövenpick Resort Jimbaran Bay, The Stones Hotel Legian and the Prama Sanur Beach Bali Hotel; US$75/night at the Holiday Inn Resort Bali Benoa. *When requesting an item and the response is “Habis,” it doesn’t necessarily mean “out of stock.” It often means that the item isn’t available now, has never been available and the store has no intention whatsoever of ever making it available. *Myth exploded: Keep bananas out of the refrigerator only until they ripen, but when ripe bananas will last longer in the refrigerator. *Dempul (putty), made by Sanpolac, comes in a variety of sizes and prices (from Rp13,5000 to Rp99,000). It’s used to fill holes in wood and metal and will keep a year if the can is stored in a dry place and the lid is dampened down very tightly.


* Vacation abroad!

Since the recent steep increases in domestic airfares and added-on baggage fees, traveling outside Indonesia is now cheaper than traveling inside the country. A flight from Jakarta to Medan (Lion Air Rp1,547,300) now costs 40% more than an international flight between Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur (Lion Air Rp745,000), even though the air distances are the same. Flying to Japan is comparable in costs to flying to Gorontalo, North Sulawesi. Tickets on low-cost carriers from Jakarta to Bali have jumped from around Rp1 million to now over Rp2.5 million. A round-trip to Pontianak that once cost Rp1.2 million now runs Rp1 million one-way. To Morotai a round-trip costs Rp5 million, but the maximum price for flying to Australia is Rp7-Rp8 million. Since the increases, the number of domestic tourists traveling as well as hotel occupancy rates have decreased by 30% nation-wide. For domestic travel, travelers are now starting to use alternate modes of transportation such trains, cars and inter-island ferries.


* Traffic woes

Have it together and get all your documents in order before taking your motorbike out. Don’t ride on sidewalks (trotoar), stay within the guide lines at intersections and when making turns and stop before stop lines at traffic lights. *Penalties are becoming increasingly severe. Fines now cost Rp250,000 for minor violations (no valid Indonesian or International driver’s license, no headlight, not wearing a standard helmet, failure to use a turn signal, traveling the wrong way, etc.). More serious violations, which incur fines of Rp500,000, apply to drivers who speed, make illegal turns or who have no license plates, no brake lights, no registration certificate (STNK), etc. Additional fines are given for each additional violation.


* Tech Up!

If someone tells you there’s an app for that, your first questions should be “Does there need to be? Is the app something that I’m willing to pay for both in terms of money and privacy? *The fastest, easiest ways to declutter a slow and buggy smartphone is free up storage by getting rid of apps you don’t need and message threads full of GIFs, memes, videos and photos which can take up a ton of space. *Another big storage hog are photos and videos. Back them up to an online cloud backup service like Apple’s iCloud, Google Drive, Google Photos or Amazon Prime Photos. Once you back up the photos, you can delete them from your phone and access them remotely through the backup service. *Facetime, Viber, Line and Facebook Messenger are free online instant messaging software, but to call landlines or people who own old style cellphones (HP jadul), you must use the pay-for-use Skype service. *The Mint app is a budget tracking tool that gives you a clear picture of how much you’re spending and saving.


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Copyright © 2019 Bill Dalton

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