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Welcome to InBali’s fortnightly account of life on the Island of the Gods – from the mouths, the keyboards and the lenses of those who love it the most.

This week, Bali is undergoing a final spring clean as the Southern Hemisphere’s summer officially kicks off and the crowds of holiday makers flock in for high season.

Meanwhile, schoolies sweep in and out in a brief yet eventful three week period and the government, almost in a precise unison, makes some landmark changes to implementing new smoke-free and plastic bag-free policies.

But it’s not only the environmental and political state of Bali undergoing a renovation, as modern innovation, culture and social trends take hold of Bali as we know it.

Hold onto your seats folks – things are really taking off!

Crowdfunding Aid for Ubud fire victims

In tragic local news, a massive fire on Thursday the 20th destroyed the iconic Clear Café and 5 adjoining homes encompassing religious shrines near the village market on Jalan Hanoman Raya in Ubud, Central Bali.

As reported by Denpost News, the blaze broke out at around 9.45am, and is thought to have originated from the kitchen of the Clear Cafe. Thankfully, there were no human casualties from the fire, just devastating financial and emotional losses.

Some tough yet very relevant topics were raised on the blog of Ubud based photographer Rio Helmi the day following the fire, as issues of legality between foreign business owners and local nominee partners came into play.

With several local families suffering from the blaze, the urgency of damages that will need to be recouped has been recognised. The early estimate of the financial cost of the fire to the community is around $AU200,000.

Whilst the significance of this fire continues to be calculated, the local Ubud community have been quick to respond to the tragedy, banding together to arrange a crowd funding drive geared towards the expat community and lovers of Bali from across the globe.

The Ubud Community Fire Relief has been established by a cross-section of Ubud residents who want to help the locals who have been impacted. The campaign funds will help the families that were affected by the fire to begin the lengthy process of rebuilding their homes.

Those wanting to pledge their support are urged to do so via the crowd funding website startsomegood.com/ubudfire.

The money raised will go straight to an account held by a special committee established by the Ubud community leaders, for direct distribution to the families. Levels of support begin at $1, and by giving even a small amount you’ll be helping to:

  • Restore their homes and businesses from the rubble.
  • Ensure that future generations of these families prosper.
  • Pay for the ceremonial costs that need to be met before rebuilding can begin.
  • Provide immediate shelter for people who have lost everything.

InBali has the victims of this tragedy in their closest thoughts and is sending prayers for a swift and safe recoup.

Bali Bitcoin Binge – Ubud: the newest Bitcoin hub

In lighter Ubud-based news, Bali is undergoing an exciting Bitcoin revolution; becoming known as a top Bitcoin destination, where people who have adopted this new platform of money and payment can go and spend their savings. Despite the fact that just 6 months ago there were no businesses accepting Bitcoin, Ubud now sits proudly on top of the list.

Fast forward to December 2014 and Bali is home to a booming Bitcoin community of over 450 members (as measured by the Bitcoins in Bali Facebook group), with more than 30 local businesses accepting BTC. Ubud recently got its first Automated Bitcoin Machine (an ATM equivalent) installed at Hubud Co-working space.

But the BIT doesn’t stop there. The Bitfilm Festival will be featured at Paradiso Ubud on Saturday, December 13, 2014 and an entire website has also been dedicated to travellers wanting to visit Bali, spending only their Bitcoin to do so.

BitIslands has been established to demonstrate how Bitcoin can be used not only as a tradable digital commodity, but also as a useful travelling currency. Initiated in Bali, they are hoping to convert the majority of merchants on the Island to accept Bitcoin, so that visitors can spend their days in Bali only carrying their Bitcoin with them.

All sounding a BIT much to you? Don’t quite get it? Picturing yourself as Justin Timberlake in a scene from InTime, clinging to someone’s arm to pay for your villa? Talk about Bali brain! The mind jumbles…

Check out BitCoin.org for a handy Bitcoin overview.

Schoolies hit Bali – Expats hit the jungle

It’s the three weeks of the year in Bali that have us all on high alert, as school-leavers rip off the restraints of their school uniform in place of a (foam party-worthy) string bikini: SCHOOLIES!

We are all for a good time, but there is something about this annual booze fest that makes us all shudder.

schoolies in Bali

No more pencils
No more books
No more teacher’s dirty looks
Well we got no class
And we got no principles
And we got no innocence

And we can’t event think of a word that rhymes?
..Alice Cooper’s words loop through our minds like a broken record..

In the past, the madness of the Schoolies crowd has been reasonably well contained within the Kuta region between Sky Gardens and The Bounty.

But this year, Ultraglow Festival is attracting Bali Schoolies to the outskirts with its Sunblast Sessions at the new Splash Water Park in Canggu. Naturally, the Bali Expats are collectively cringing.

Offering a solution to our Schoolies woes, one Australian travel company is marketing “Hidden Bali” as an alternative to the notorious party town of Kuta.

Ok, we’re listening…

As reported by News.com.au on November 12, Unleashed Travel, a provider of overseas travel packages for Australian school leavers, has launched a 2015 Bali Grad Trip at an exclusively chartered resort an hour out of Kuta.

Komune Beach Club in Keramas will play host, and the packages are designed to manage the problems associated with Schoolies. Students can’t leave the grounds without supervision; they can’t bring their own alcohol; they don’t serve shots; and Toolies are banned with the travel package strictly limited to 17 and 18 year olds.

There is also 24/7 security and an on-call Unleashed Travel crew who are all first aid certified.

Have our prayers been answered? Sounds pretty good to us!

For those of you still sold on Schoolies Kuta-style, polish up your party knowledge with our Guide to Cool Kuta: 15 reasons to love the controversial Sin City of Bali.

Fuel price hike: petrol prices in Bali rise by over 30%

In a controversial move towards repairing the nation’s economy, Joko Widodo raised fuel prices from Rp 6,500 per litre to Rp 8,500. As reported by Channel News Asia on November 17, the hike was a deep cut to government subsidies that will be welcomed by economists, but risks denting the new president’s popularity.

This may sound like small change to some readers, but let’s put it into perspective:

The current minimum monthly wage in Bali is Rp 1,321,000 (around US$110). That makes 1 litre of fuel at the new price the equivalent of 0.64% of a monthly wage. A local Balinese only needs to purchase 16 litres of petrol to be spending 10% of their entire monthly salary on fuel.

Now calculate 10% of your average monthly income, and imagine it only afforded you 15 litres of petrol. No wonder it has been met with such apprehension.

Bali driver Made "Jony"

Canggu-based driver Made “Jony” comments:

“It is very hard for me now as a Bali driver/tour guide after the increase in price for the petrol. There is lots of competition in the industry. Tourists still expect to pay the ‘old price’, with no increase to subsidise our loss of profit margin, and competitors are willing to drop their prices to get the job.

I operate a van that can fit up to 6 or 7 passengers, and the cost of leasing this and running it on fuel is expensive, even more so now since the increase. I have a young son to feed, and soon he will go to school, so every last dollar counts. It has impacted my business significantly”.

Jony is happy to be contacted to discuss the changes he has witnessed via his personal facebook page.

Made In Bali opening night at SkyGardens

Made in Bali (a play on words; Made being the name given to the second born in a Balinese family) is a short film based on the life of a Bali driver.

Due for release this month after years of preparation, the project was made possible by 2012 Kickstart crowd funding efforts.

Starring Jakarta based actor Mike Lewis and legendary Indonesian actor Slamet Rahardjo, it is shot around some of Bali’s most scenic locations, and is set to achieve for Bali Drivers what Eat Pray Love achieved for Bali Retreats: a huge spark in interest.

The SkyDome (SkyGardens) will host a screening of “Made in Bali” along with two other Bali made shorts at 7.30pm on Tuesday December 16.

Find the full event details and RSVP on the film’s Facebook Page.

ADUH! (oops!) in Canggu


Highlighting once more the importance of a skilled Bali driver, this image went a little viral this week on the Bali Expats facebook page.

Captured along the impossibly narrow “shortcut” linking Berawa to Echo Beach, the photo (seen above) shows a car tipped into the rice fields that border the skinny paved road, nicknamed by locals as the “Yellow Brick Road”. Poor planning has seen this thoroughfare effectively acting as a one-way street, with a constant traffic congestion of cars & bikes squeezing side-by-side and negotiating the passing. The result often ends up like this.

On the same day as this shot was taken, a second car tipped into the field a little further up the road, sparking online debate about the increasing development in the area, and the lack of infrastructure in place to support it.

Smoke-free Bali: Big Brother is watching.

On January 1, 2014, the Province of Bali formally promulgated its new law on smoke-free zones (Peraturan Daerah Bali Nomor 10 Tahun 2011 Tentang Kawasan Tanpa Rokok). The new law enforces penalties of 3 months detention or fines of Rp. 50,000 for those found guilty of smoking in prohibited places and for managers of venues that allow breaches.

In a recent edition of the Bali Advertiser, it was reported that the government would begin to tighten enforcement of tobacco control laws and make public spaces in Indonesia’s most popular destinations smoke-free.

Denpasar mayor Ida Bagus Rai Dharmawijaya Mantra said that this month they will begin to roll out messages to the public and tourists informing them of the new regulation and its associated penalties. After six months to one year they will begin tighter law enforcement, allowing a grace period for the regulation to be made known.

Public response has been mixed amongst Bali Expats, some applauding the modern-day changes that encourage a cleaner, healthier Bali, whilst others cling desperately to the days of enjoying a rokok (smoke) with a Bintang and Nasi Goreng.

Shhh! You didn’t hear it from us: Lock your doors, close your windows – Isagenix is on its way to Bali

Isagenix – the newest network marketing craze. We’ve all heard of it. We’ve all Googled it. Spurred on by our congested Facebook feeds, filled with photos of our friends “shedding the KGs.. looking good.. and feeling AMAZING!”

Until now, Isagenix has been safely contained in cyberspace, with most of the Bali Expats successfully avoiding those awkward “catch-ups” for coffee. If you’re not in the “most” category, you’re currently flashing back to your friend bringing his “friend” to your coffee catch-up, getting stuck in a 2-man strong sales spin for a solid hour and being guilt tripped into signing up for a juice system you never knew you wanted – right?

Ahh Network Marketing.. keeping unused timeshares alive since the beginning of time.

Tom Bailey (pictured left) will play a pivotal part in welcoming Isagenix into Bali, and shapeshifting the figures of Bali Expats

InBali has it on good authority that Isagenix is about to drop in Bali: just when we thought we were safe.

Pharmacist Body-builder and blogger at The Chemical Edge, Tom Bailey, tells InBali (as he flexes his Isagenix-crafted marketing muscles) that from February 2015, the Isa-curious will be able to have their deliveries shipped quickly and easily to their address in Bali.

We’re a little sceptical, but all the while feeling that Bintang squeeze. For now, we’re fence sitting, but with New Year’s resolutions just around the corner, perhaps we could be swayed.

Tom can be contacted for further launch details on tomsfitnessfarm@gmail.com.

Creepy ghost fish caught off the coast of Bali

Looking to up your protein intake the old-fashioned way? Maybe this will be of interest to you.

Markets in Japan have been abuzz with the display of a rare and magnificent ghost-white Southern Bluefin Tuna caught off the coast of Bali. Sashimi lovers flocked from all corners to catch a glimpse of the eerie fisherman’s catch.

As reported by RocketNews on November 25, the fish immediately attracted attention due to its unusual colour, but was sold for a relatively average price of 1,500 yen (US$12.75) per kilo. The tuna measured about 1.9m (approx 6ft 3in) long and weighed in at 118kg (260 pounds), which means the price tag for the entire fish came to 177,000 yen ($1,504).

Once scheduled in for a very public filleting, the new owner had a change of heart, instead opting to donate the a fish to a scientific institution for further study on why it was such a colour.

Psst! Have you heard? Jamie Oliver is coming to Bali!

If detoxing, dieting & protein loading isn’t your thing, you will be glad to hear that Jamie Oliver is set to bring his carb-o-licious Jamie’s Italian restaurant to Bali. As reported by Hospitality Magazine on November 14, if all goes to plan, the restaurant will occupy a site adjacent to the Hard Rock Hotel Bali in the tourist hub of Kuta, and will open for business at some stage next year.

Prosciutto, risotto & breadsticks – oh my! Sounds pretty “pukka” to us!

Restaurant scene morphs Bali into “Little Bondi”

Even cooler than the emerging hispter scene in Canggu is the fabulous foodie scene taking place in Seminyak.

Playfully named the “Seminyak scarf scene”, this new crowd evokes images of diners donning Matt Preston-esque cravats, which they can later use to mop the Jamie Oliver spaghetti sauce from their chin.

Food in Bali

It all started with the likes of Sydney chef Will Meyrick acquiring his Sarong & Mamasan fame, and Simon Blaby with his successful menu at Petitenget. The Byron Bay boys put up some stiff competition with Ben Cross and his tastebud tantalising Ku De Ta offerings, and the Josh Davies recipe revolution that took place recently at Watercress.

Now the Bondi crew are in town and ready to show us how it’s done. Adrian Reed (Bondi’s Bucketlist) and his gang have refurbished Bali’s nightlife over the past 2 years with the opening of Motel Mexicola & Salty Seagull.

A little less buckets brimming with miscellaneous booze slash dancing in cages wearing Bintang singlets (circa. Kuta in the early 2000’s), and a whole lot more salt-rimmed tumblers topped with the finest tequila and damn good food (think pulled pork tacos, Kingfish ceviche and sticky ribs). Seminyak: always maturing the Bali bar & restaurant scene.

Meanwhile, Robert Marchetti of North Bondi Italian & Bondi Iceberg’s fame opened Seminyak Italian earlier this year, which was met with remarkable reviews. Whispers have him looking into a Canggu beachfront venture, as we reported on October 20. Fingers are crossed.

It seems that Southern Bali will soon be barely recognisable from its Eastern Sydney counterpart.

Adrian Reed - the man behind the magic of Motel Mexicola & Salty Seagull, Seminyak

In completely unrelated “Little Bondi” news, fans of Sydney’s Bondi might be fascinated to hear that one of this week’s finalists in the world famous Tropfest Film Festival is a short film named Little Bondi.

Borrowing from the popularity of Bondi Hipsters and using the satyrical styling of such hits as Little Britain and Chris Lilley’s Angry Boys & Summer Heights High, this short film pokes fun at a number of Bondi-bred stereotypes; “Six Bondi residents collide in a farcical tale as they try to bring meaning to their superficial lives”.

Do we predict a “Little Bali” type series in the making?

Last week our InBali feature bloggers, Canggu Chronicles, mused on the Canggu Hipster revolution. Who will be the next target? The Seminyak Scarf Society? The Ubud Yogis? Stay tuned for more.

Artwork by Gleb Solntsev

Artwork by Gleb Solntsev

Laura Dundovic’s Bali bikini break

Those who don’t visit Sydney’s Bondi for the food are likely to be there for the good-looking people watching. And luckily for us, most of those good-looking people like to holiday in Bali.

Amongst them is Australia’s Miss Universe darling, Laura Dundovic. Laura was recently another Bondi to Bali import, bursting onto our beaches and strutting her stuff in her trademark bikini style for the second time this year.

Laura Dundovic in Bali

As reported by Herald Sun on November 17, Dundovic fit no less than eight bikini changes into her last two-week jaunt, snapping them all through her Instagram account.

Hashtag babe!

Beautiful Seminyak “Son-set”

kid on the beach in Bali

Captured by Gary Adamason, this spectacular shot emphasises not only the glorious technicoloured sunsets that we get to savour each evening, but also the special moment of a family’s young son being illuminated by what is now dubbed the “SON-set”. We LOVE.

“Cash for Trash” App the star of Bali’s start-up weekend

In mid-November, an innovative weekend-long event was held at Ubud’s HUBUD co-working space. Participants gathered from more than twenty countries to discuss unique concepts, business development plans and mobile applications. Eleven startups were built from scratch and nine survived until the final selection process on Sunday night.

As reported by Wall Street Journal on November 17, Cash For Trash was the standout and winning creation from the creatively competitive event.

Cash for Trash

This catchy sounding smartphone app aims to get Indonesians recycling in exchange for money. Founded by American developer Olivier Pouillon, it’s a similar concept to Cash for Cans, which provides financial incentives for disposing of trash in an environmentally friendly way.

“There’s a lot of value in waste,” said Mr. Pouillon. “With the app, you can realize what it’s worth.” Cash for Trash may have won this startup event, but it still remains an idea. If it does take off, however, it could go a long way towards helping Indonesia deal with its growing waste problem.

Bali innovation: Recycled stubby holders

We’re always on the look out for creative new products, and this one has really caught our eye. These handmade stubby holders (a sheath to keep your water or beer cool) are made from 100% recycled materials.

At only a few dollars a pop, they are cheap and can be customised for corporate branding or even as Bali wedding souvenirs! Practical and sustainable = simply brilliant.

recycled beer holder

For more information, or to place an order contact Betty:

Ph: 0878 944 68 948.
Email: betty580929@gmail.com

Bye Bye Plastic Bags!

byebye plastic bali

It was news that made waves across the island on November 24; two young students and sisters from Bali’s Green School met with Bali’s Governer Bapak Made Mangku Pastika after a full year of campaigning.

During this historical meeting, twelve year old Isabel and thirteen year old Melati appealed to the Governor to acknowledge the hard work of the Bye Bye Plastic Bag Team, asking him to guide them through the journey to heal Bali of its garbage problem. Not only did he acknowledge their efforts, but he signed a memorandum to minimise the use of plastic bags in Bali.

As reported by Wake, Wind & Surf on November 25, it is young Melati’s dream that one day all those visiting Bali would be greeted at the airport with the words: “Welcome to Bali, do you have any plastic bags to declare?”.

InBali wishes to congratulate these two incredible girls for their outstanding efforts, and wishes them every success for their pioneering futures.

Party of the Week: Bali Women’s Role Model Awards

Only days before meeting with Governer Made Pastik, Isabel and Melati were recognised for their Bye Bye Plastic Bag campaign as winners of The Bali Women’s Role Model Awards 2014, hosted by the ROLE foundation (Rivers. Ocean. Land. Ecology.) at the Conrad Resort, Nusa Dua. The sisters took out the High School Role Models award in front of a crowd of cheering supporters.

The night was a glitzy event with champagne, canapés, live music and a sit-down three course meal, all enjoyed as inspirational awards were handed, students graduated from the BALIWISE program, and auctions raised funds for Women’s Skills Education and Business Development.

A huge InBali congratulations to the following winners;

Businesswomen Role Model of the Year: Surya Paulina and Ratna Katarina
Cultural Role Model: Rucina Ballinger
Humanitarian Role Model: Asana Viebeke Lengkong
Environmental Role Model: Paola Cannucciari
College Role: Kadek Ridoi Rahayu
High School Role Model: Isobel and Melati Wijsen
BaliWISE graduate ROLE Model: Ni Wayan Rasmini

What Happened this week on InBali

West Bali National Park and the Menjangan Eco Retreat

west bali

Welcome to The Menjangan Retreat, a unique and undiscovered eco-haven in West Bali National Park, where snorkelling, cocktails & wild deer are everyday life.

An insider’s guide to shopping in Bali: 21 quality designer boutiques in Seminyak


Dying to check out Bali’s best designer boutiques? We round up the top 21 shopping boutiques in Seminyak, plus share a few tips for shopping in Bali.

Top reasons to move to Bali: everything you need to know to live in Paradise

live in bali

From personal chefs to on-call chauffeurs to secluded luxury villas, we reveal the top reasons to move to Bali and make it your new island home.

A complete guide to the weather in Bali


From the wet season to the dry season to the surfing seasons, we’ve got the low-down on all you need to know about the weather in Bali.

Cool Kuta: 15 reasons to love the controversial Sin City of Bali


Ignore the rumours and enjoy the new Kuta with its great bars, restaurants, shopping malls and nightlife, teamed with tattoo parlours and indie rock bars.

Feature image credits: James Billing Photography. www.jamesbilling.com