The quote in the title is what I saw written across the back of a guys hoodie this morning while riding my scooter, on my way to get some breakfast.
“You’re right, engrish speaking hoodie sign printer, I won’t be sad again from here on out, I do only live once”
I’ve been in Indonesia for over a month now, my first long term trip and I’m loving it so far. I initially stayed in Jakarta for a couple of days, expecting to have a bit of an adventure, see some of the high end night life and meet some cool people. Instead, I found myself wondering around a huge, gridlocked city feeling a bit ill because of the pollution and being really disappointed by the tourist sights that really were a bit naff.
If you are traveling to Jakarta for the first time and don’t want to feel overwhelmed, I recommend getting on couch surfing and arranging to meet up with some locals. I think Jakarta can be a fun place to stay (and party) but you need more then just a lonely planet guidebook, a local’s perspective will benefit you massively.
So after a short stay in Jakarta I hopped on a domestic plane to Bali, which has been my home for the past 5-6 weeks. Yes I said home, Bali has this weird ability to charm your pants off and make you feel like you’ve been living here for years.
I’ve been trying to put my finger on just what it is that draws me to this island, but I’ve slowly come to realise that it’s not one thing – it’s a combination of several factors:
Bali’s got beaches yo!
Bali has some of the nicest beaches I’ve ever seen! Sometimes the huge waves trying to pull you out to sea can make you wish you were a surfer if you’re not, but for a London boy who’s nearest open water source was a shallow polluted stream surrounded by weeds – being able to go down to the beach anytime of the day (or night) and reflect on life is awesome!
The people here are just cool
I have this suspicion that many years ago, a bunch of hippy like Balinese folk got everyone living on the island to gather in one place (probably on a beach), sat them down and said “look, just continue to be cool. That is all.”
Sure, as a foreigner you get asked if you want to buy transport (motorbike taxi service), viagra and/or mushrooms whenever you walk down legian street in Kuta, but after politely saying no or ignoring the touts (a defining action of long term expats) they leave you alone.
Overall, every person I meet here is really friendly, laid back and usually has a cool story to tell.
You can create a good work/life balance
A priority for me, and this applies whether I’m back in London or sweating buckets out in SE Asia, is my work environment and how much I can get done as a TMBA intern and as an entrepreneur trying to work on my own projects.
After finding a few nice work spots with decent wi-fi, I am confident in saying that Bali has made me a more effective employee and a sharper thinker.
A part of this is constantly being around hungry, hard working entrepreneurs like David, Ian and Dan, but the environment has a lot to do with it as well. When I was back in London I felt like I was constantly frustrated, and I couldn’t figure out why. That frustration, I now realise, came from an environment that constantly clouded your judgement, making it impossible to see past tomorrow let alone the next 2 years. It’s hard to put into words but anyone who has lived in a big city for a few years should understand what I mean, you just get wrapped up in unimportant nonsense. Bali removed that frustration for me, and a more positive outlook has replaced it.
It’s not too expensive to live here, unless you want it to be!
There’s a strange mix of white-linen wearing, jet set rich people and surf bum backpackers congregating in Bali. If you’re smart about your spending (unlike me) and you don’t go too wild, you can skate the ‘awesome budget lifestyle’ line somewhere between those two groups. I’ve seen and heard of people renting really cosy apartments, or ‘kosts’, here for between $200-$400 a month. If you want to bring your family here or pool together with friends and rent a Bali style house or villa, you can find a place with a nice pool and yard for way under $1k a month, and that’s in the Kuta/Seminyak/Denpasar area, I’m told it can get cheaper if you go inland.
Food is cheap and delicious, and it only takes two local ‘Bintang’ beers to have you hugging random people and telling them you love them. If you’re worried about the cost of living in Bali (in comparison to say, Chang Mai in Thailand) then aim to have $1000 a month to spend, monitor your spending for a week and use that info to set a daily budget and stick to it. $20-$30 a day here is more then enough to have an awesome time!
Overall, I feel like Bali just gets a lot of things right as a location, and not a lot wrong. I’ve been here a month and I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface of what this beautiful island has to offer.
Tomorrow I leave to go to the Philippines where the Tropical MBA guys and me will be hosting summits, staying at Badladz in Puerto Gallera, getting shit done and having a good time. I will post my opinions on the Philippines once I’ve had some time to get to know the place. If you want to know more about living in Bali (I’ll be back here in August), check out Dan’s post or leave a comment below and I’ll do my best to help you out.