“You have monkey mind. You are always busy, just like a monkey”

3 months living and working remotely from Bali

Working from Hubud, a co-working space you won’t believe.

That awesome time in 10 very short stories

Ubud Community Facebook group. Westerns United.
We joined “Ubud community Facebook group”. There you will find really amazing everyday expat problems. Everyday, you can read posts like this: “I woke up this morning with an itchy red area in my face, anyone knows what is it?” or “I have to big snakes in front of my home, what can I do?” or “We don’t have water in the area” or “Where to find medicine X?” and then someone replied that that medicine wasn’t available anywhere in Bali…

Bali people just have 4 possibilities for their names: Wayan, Made, Nyoman, and Ketut. The same for males and females. It depends on the birth order. After the 4th son, you start again. More at wikipedia.

Jungle rules
I asked our Balinese friend that speaks Spanish, about the rules of driving in Bali. He looked at me: “¿Huh? There are no rules”, he said, “this is like jungle, the big ones have priority over the small ones.”.

Follow the signals
Around Ubud or centre of the island, there are no directions/traffic signals. You need to ask 3 times on every crossing if you want to arrive somewhere. Yes 3 times!! We were lost at night, trying to get to Ubud, coming from Uluwatu. Because there are really a lot of hidden roads, and not all Balinese move away often from their town. When 2 of them gave us the same indications, we took them as the good ones, and the easiest to follow.

¿Is it open?
We were looking for a place to eat. We stopped in a nasi-goreng-only-warung (warung ~= bar) around 4pm. From the motorbike, I asked her: “¿is it open?”, the woman opened her cooking pot, looked inside, and said: “Yes, it’s open”. I cannot express how this things amazed me. Life is simple.

Nature in Bali is amazing
In Bali there isn’t any residues management. What you left in your garbage bin is taken and burnt outside the house. As westerns we don’t really know where will garbage go, or what will happen to it, we really don’t care. There is someone, somewhere, burning your garbage, industrially or manually, no magic.

Volume 100% please! While driving we had to stop by. This moment was incredible.

Indoor Wild Life 
In the first week, Marina, my girlfriend, went down looking for Paul, our Airbnb’s host, 2 times:

— Paul! Paul! Everything is moving, are we having an earthquake?! (Our bed was moving like a roller coaster)
 — Yes Marina, we have it here all the time, at least once a day. Don’t be scared. The first time I’ve seen an earthquake the house wall was moving like a snake …
 — Ok…
— Paul! Paul! We had a big lizard in our room!! 
 — No Marina, that is a Gecko. It’s not dangerous. And you know what they say: “a house with a gecko is a blessed house”.
 — Ok…
Gecko sounds. Imagine this at night.

When you get used to geckos, you miss them. Right now, I miss even the insects. One day, Fendi, one of Paul’s co-workers from Java, was with us in our terrace, when a very big insect came direct to us, Marina and I were ready for a run, Fendi just moved his hand while saying: “don’t be afraid it cannot kill us” and the insect got away. Kill us?! Yes there are insects that can get you some bad experiences.

Nature doesn’t need any help
In our way from home to Hubud, every morning, we passed through Monkey Forest. One day, we seen an injured monkey trying to move with a broken leg. We noticed it to a monkey forest guard, we weren’t expecting that response: “if you find an injured monkey, it’s probably cause it was in a fight with another gang”, and cause of that, you can do nothing, or you could end up with a dispute with a gang of monkeys. No one mess with monkeys. We were just extorted once by a tricky monkey who robbed my girlfriends sunglasses and wanted food in exchange.

It only exists when you see it
The most expensive “show” we had seen in Ubud, was Puppet Theatre. It was the worst one. We got trapped in a scam for tourists, we just solved by always checking upfront the “theater thing” before buying tickets. Don’t leave anything for granted. In the other hand, I liked very much gamelan performances, and Kecak, in other temples around Ubud. Puppet theatre was just an exception.

Ok exists, but it isn’t what it seems
One night we were looking for a temple to watch Kecak dance. We seen a tourist info sign, and we asked them for help. I realized that everyone is capable of writing a sign with the words “tourist info”, no need to know anything about tourist or interesting places in the area, or have a Tourist Info permit or certification. Why I thought Tourist Info would let me to a real tourist info place? That is so western.

My favorite incident was with the hotel staff at mont Batur’s area. I noticed they had Wi-Fi. I asked for the key. They gave me a paper. I introduced the 22 positions. Wi-Fi Ok. I started to move, and asked them where I should stand to get better signal, when suddenly the guy with a big smile, said: “Uh Wi-Fi? No, it doesn’t work, not available”. I think that was just a way to avoid saying “NO” upfront, but in that moment it really left me amazed.

If you can’t manage a situation, just run
We finished our Bali time, in Lembongan. It’s like Bali but 50 years ago. There, my girlfriend started to feel bad. Earache, “othitis”. We found a small health facility near our Airbnb in Lembongan. We asked to the “nurse” at the desk for help, someone from our health assurance would call her because we needed a doctor to examine that ear. She listened us, said ok, and then? She just disappeared. Yes. Bye Bye. She doesn’t returned at least from 6pm-9pm, when we lost our hope. The reasons or the situation of that person are unknown. The place remained without anybody in charge.

Humans at sea
Other story is how we got to Lembongan. To go from Bali to Lembongan by local boat its about 3–4 hours (30 minutes if you take boat for westerns) with the risk of sink, in both cases. You can look at YouTube, boat Sanur-Lembongan or Bali-Gili. You will see boats on fire, tourists escaping from accidents and so on … I found the best boat’s story, in a comment, where someone was really angry cause they ended up swimming to the beach by their own, and then they seen how the staff repaired a mostly sinking boat and put it to work an hour later. No police, no apologizes, no nothing. Anybody died? no? so move on… By the way, our Macbooks arrived safely. The % of possibilities to sink depends on the weather, if not a bad boat maintenance.

“You (westerns) have monkey mind. You are always busy, just like a monkey”.

Terima kasih , take care and have a great 2016!