Unusual currency requirement in Indonesia…We’re figuring it out, as always…

Gede stopped at the side of the road when he spotted this monkey and baby  We had no idea we’d see much wildlife here. Of course, we were thrilled!

“Sightings on the Beach in Bali”

Our new feature for Bali leaves us wondering which photos to post first as we continue to be amazed by the activity on the beach both day and night. Last night we took this photo from the veranda of our cabana, with the beach in the background. 

Each day brings a series of surprises we never expected in Bali. Sure, we anticipated lots of sunshine, hot, humid weather, balmy breezes and an endless array of colorful vegetation and people.

Little did we know we’d encounter wildlife, especially on a drive to the village or by staring out to the sea from our veranda.  The camera is always close at hand.

Archway over the road intended to welcome visitors from the local harbor.

Arising no later than 5 am these days we’re often out of bed while it’s still dark. This morning, I was antsy to get up and online during the better signal periods of day on the very slow signal to complain to one of our credit card companies that their two cards weren’t working. 

Once again, they assumed the cards were stolen when we used them in many locations. They put a temporary hold on them. Why didn’t they email and tell me instead of leaving us embarrassed when they were declined at a register in Denpasar? 

Another mom and baby.  Note the funny hair pattern on the baby’s head.

We accept the reality that few card holders, other than business travelers, use credit cards in such a variety of locations. After the call, the two cards are working again but will be of little use here in Sumbersari, Negara, Bali, a relatively remote location with none of the local shops accepting credit cards.

As a result, using cash is the only way to make purchases in this location including some of which we’ve paid in cash thus far:

1.  Prepayment for food the cooks purchase from local vendors each morning for our meals which is usually under IDR $132,680, US $10, per day
2.  Pre-payment for any items we want picked up for us in Denpasar (the harrowing four hour drive). At the moment, we’re awaiting the delivery of 10 kilos of ground beef to last for these first two months at an estimated cost of IDR $3,000,000, US $211 which we gave Gaday in advance unsure of the actual cost.  He’ll either bring us change or require more cash to cover the cost.  We’ll report back later when he returns today with a cooler filled with the meat, packed in ice for the long journey.
3.  Transportation to the ATM, sightseeing or shopping, usually no less than IDR $100,000, US $7.54, for up to an hour outing; IDR $250,000, US $18.84, for a half day;  to a maximum of IDR $500,000, US $37.68, for a full day outing.
4.  Payment to the “tourist police” for protection at the house. (We just paid a one time fee for these first two months of IDR $60,000, US $4.52).
5.  Laundry charges twice a week for our clothing only. (No charge for bedding and towels). Last night we paid both Ketuts IDR $54,000, US $4.08 for two loads of laundry.

This photo is blurry when taken while moving when it was captured.  Check out the look on his face! He looks worried. We keep our distance. Wild monkeys are known to bite humans and carry many diseases including Zika virus which has been prevalent in Bali for many years, not only just recently.

The funny aspect to these charges is the low cost for all of these products and services along with the huge amount of local currency required to make these purchases based on the exchange rate. The required denominations for the currency is astounding and was confusing the first day or so.

Another confusing part is the fact that we, nor any other traveler, can get more than about IDR $4,000,000, US $301 at any given visit to an ATM. This is based on rampant illegal activity in Bali.  As a result the machines are set only to dispense a certain amount of cash from each ATM which varies from location to location.

An ornate house along the road to the village.

This requires that we’ll need to get cash much more often than in the past when we freely used credit cards for most purchases. We’re figuring it out as we go. Most tourists come to Bali, staying in resorts where none of the above cash expenditures would be necessary. 

The beautiful difference for us as opposed to staying in a hotel or resort is we have an exquisite house all to ourselves, professionally prepared meals, a daily pool and landscape guy, a driver and two lovely dedicated housekeepers and cooks who serve our every need. 

This house, owned by a local property tycoon is elaborate in its Hindu design.

(No, we don’t ask the staff to “wait” on us. We make and serve ourselves beverages and still “pick up” after ourselves. Although, if we don’t fold a bath or beach towel neatly, they discretely do so when we’re not looking).

Could be a family…

In a few days, we’ll need to get more cash and plan to do some sightseeing in the process, stopping at an ATM along the way to reload several more millions IDRs (Indonesian Rupiahs). 

Again this morning as I write here, we’re sitting in the two comfy chaise lounges, sipping our coffee while facing the pool and the sea, a short distance from the edge of the infinity pool. The sound of the surf, the birds, the geckos and on a clear day, the sight of Java across the sea, makes this one extraordinary experience we’ll never forgot. 

This is the closest ATM which only dispenses IDR $4,000,000, US $301 per customer per day.

Knowing we’ll be back again on September 1st is no longer a concern as it was before we arrived and is now laced with thoughts of this treasure to which we’ll look forward to returning for an additional 59 days. Pinch me! Are we really in paradise? I think so.

Have a beautiful day wherever you may be and thank you for sharing this life with us. Without all of YOU it would be difficult to document our daily lives to this degree. Knowing YOU are there drives us to experience more, observe more and of course, take more photos. If YOU’LL keep coming back, we’ll keep going!

Photo from one year ago today, May 4, 2015:

I gave Tom this haircut one year ago. This was him before the cut.  After my cut, he had professionals do it. I suppose I don’t blame him. For more Kauai photos, please click here.