We started this crazy adventure on September 15, flying to the other side of the world to fast forward our business goals, and live a true ex-pat lifestyle.
Andrew started talking about Bali almost 8 months ago. Working with manufacturing in China, we knew we couldn’t stay put in Toronto and run our start-up business successfully without having our feet on the ground in Asia. We mutually agreed living in China was probably not the best choice to begin with, so the research began.
We soon found there was a large community of “ex-pats” living in Bali. A tropical jungle island in the southern part of Indonesia with a small local population, Hindu dominated culture, and a large Australian tourism hot spot. Ex-patriots are people like us, coming from countries all around the world and settling in Bali to live and work remotely. There are multiple co-working spaces, which consists of cafe/office type places where people can join to work, socialize, and network. The Indonesian Rupiah is valued so low that the highest denomination is 100,000RP!
Throughout the summer we slowly accepted the reality of moving to Bali. We set a date, booked business class on Aeroplan points (thank you VISA) and started the hunt for a place. The search proved frustrating, and we got so many different opinions from friends and friends of friends that we gave up for awhile.
Andrew was initially set on Ubud. The original ex-pat hotspot with a famous co-working place called Hubud. However, it is in the middle of the jungle and not by the ocean which we both love. We checked out other beachside places like Kuta and Seminyak, but without knowing anything about anywhere, we couldn’t agree where to settle. Frustrated with the search we gave up looking until a week before leaving. We ended up booking a place for 4 days in Ubud that seemed close to Hubud.
Finally we set off on the journey Thursday September 15 flying to Vancouver for my hghschool friend Laura’s Thetis Island wedding. What we thought would be a relaxing weekend enjoying the beautiful sights of BC turned out to be quite the adventure.
After a 2 hour delay, we arrived in Vancouver close to 11pm, picked up the rental car and headed right to bed. The next day was supposed to be a beautiful drive to the island. We ended up missing our reservation by 5 minutes for the ferry from Vancouver to Nanaimo, drove through the 5 hour line-up, got into heated arguments with management, and somehow managed to talk our way into the next ferry over instead of being sent to the back of the line. Props to Andrew for going to the same highschool as the manager. Once on the island we had another 45 minute drive to the next ferry (which we missed again) and finally got to Thetis after 10pm. BC Ferries needs some serious consultant work, but that’s another story.
We checked into a really cute cottage style home owned by a retired RCMP officer and his wife who live in an airstream on the same property, and travel the world for years in their sailboat. Thanks to Doreen and Michael for the lively chats and delicious breakfasts!
Laura & Byron married on the Saturday with a beautiful ceremony outside of a rustic cottage. The day started off rainy and grey with no breaks in the clouds. Despite everyone’s doubts, Laura’s unwavering power of intention somehow pulled through, and just before she was set to walk down the aisle the sun peaked out and set a beautiful mood. We had a great time and wish you both a lifetime of love and happiness. Congrats!
Sunday was another whole day of ferry adventures back to Vancouver. Halfway through, we met up with my sister who happened to be in Victoria on a hiking trip. It was great to see everyone one last time. Monday we packed our bags, returned the car, and headed off to continue our journey to Bali.
Anyone who says the flight over is no big deal, is lying. Even in business class it was rough.
We flew 13 hours to Shanghai, had a 5 hour layover, then boarded Singapore airlines for another 6 hour flight. By now, we had no idea what time we thought it was anymore, and were so sleep deprived we couldn’t even eat all the constant gourmet food that was presented to us in First Class. We slept the whole way to Singapore. We had planned to explore a few sights during the 9 hour layover, but opted instead to take showers and catch up on work in the lounges. Necessary. Unfortunately my ipad was stolen, and by the time we boarded for Bali we were questioning what we got ourselves into.
3 hours later we arrive in Denpasar, Bali. Our driver was waiting with a sign that read “ANDREA” written in huge bold letters which must have taken him more than a few minutes to make with a pencil. His name is Wayan, and turned out to be our valuable asset over the next few days. Relieved, we walked through the chaotic airport avoiding all eye contact with the screaming taxi drivers and swarms of people going in every direction.
Finally we’re in the car on the way to Ubud, a 2 hour drive through lush tropical jungles on roads that should be highways, but instead look like abandoned ancient roads in the middle of a third world country. We have never in our life seen such crazy drivers trying to maneuver through intersections with no lights or laneways. People on scooters everywhere, carrying kids and boxes, weaving in between and all around the rest of the traffic. It’s insane. Absolutely insane how they drive here!
Wayan asks if we want to stop for coffee, and being in the zombie state that we were, we jumped at the chance of perking up. He pulls the van over, onto a tiny road and parks in the driveway of a small secluded coffee plantation. We are greeted by staff who promptly give us a tour of the operations before we have any time to think about it. There were plants and trees of all kinds growing beans and fruits. In the middle of this caffeine paradise, are resting cats. These are special prized cats that eat the coffee beans and poop them out for human consumption. It’s called Luwak, named after the cat breed. Coffee beans excreted by Luwaks are cleaned, roasted, and ground into the most expensive coffee grind money can buy. We tried it, and it was delicious!
The last stop is Ubud, about 1.5 hours from the airport. In the middle of exotic landscapes, somewhere very secluded, we were greeted by Made, our Villa keeper. The Villa complex turns out to not be near Hubud, but the place is so beautiful it was worth it. The open concept living area overlooks rice fields, surrounded by jungle, with views of the distant volcano. It will be our home base for a few days, and provides a serene peaceful escape from reality. Although it’s enchanting here, it is not really conducive to our business goals.
And so the search begins for a place to call home. Day 2 begins with a delicious breakfast prepared by the local Balinese chefs right in our kitchen.
We then head with our driver to Canguu (pronounced CHANG-GOO) to meet up with a friend of a friend to have a look at a villa in the area. Turns out there is no such thing as “in the area”. Nothing is really walking distance. Everyone either has a driver or rents scooters. And chaos is everywhere. We tour around for a few hours down winding roads and eventually get dropped of in Seminyak to scope out the area.
The rest of the day consisted of walking down random roads knocking on doors trying to find vacancies and decent pricing. Turns out Bali housing is not so affordable after all. People say you can get nice villas with pools for around $15,000,000IDR per month, but these places are at least a 20 minute drive from the beaches and usually not near anything.
I didn’t have many expectations when we arrived, but I did assume we could find a decent place within walking distance to stores and restaurants or the beach. Neither is true. You need a vehicle to get anywhere. And even though the island is “small”, the roads are all built based on old pathways through rice fields, so nothing makes sense.
Our day ended at Potato Head Beach Club, me sleeping on the day beds, and Andrew having drinks with friends vacationing from back home. We took a one hour taxi back to Ubud exhausted, but ready for day 3.
Today we spent pouring over all the rental sites we could find lining up viewings for tomorrow. We explored a bit of Ubud, having breakfast in a cat cafe, and walking the streets taking in the Bali way of life.
Unfortunately work has taken a bit of a back seat while we get our bearings straight, but we’re trying the best we can to keep up. We’ve been waking up at 3am to catch the tail end of the EST day, and working until breakfast is served. It’s tough to relax, even in such a serene environment, with the stress of work that needs to get done weighing on our minds. We need more hours in the day, and hopefully in time we will find a groove that works. For now, we hang onto hope that it will all be worth it. It is actually pretty awesome that we are here with a purpose, and that’s something we try to always remember no matter what obstacles are thrown our way.
Tomorrow (Saturday), we have another day filled with travel and exploration in hopes of finding a place. Sunday is our last day in Ubud, we pack up and leave in the evening for a red-eye 6 hour flight to China! 4 days in China, than back to Bali. So far this much is planned, but we have a lot in store over the next few months. Keep in touch with us on our blog for regular updates!