Is Bali The Lifestyle Design Capital of the World?

Posted on July 1, 2012

Short answer: No.

It’s not. By any stretch of the imagination.

I’ve been back in Australia for a few weeks now and I thought it was time to document my thoughts on my 2 months in Bali.


The Journey (Quick summary)

We landed in Bali at 4pm and were greated by the resort driver at the airport gates. He picked us up and drove us 3 hours up the north-west coast to a town called Medewei where we stayed for 7 nights.

From there, we caught a shuttle bus back to Kuta (just north of the airport) for three nights before making our way up to Ubud for 4 nights.

We left Ubud on a shuttle bus that took us to the one of the many great diving spots on the east coast called Amed.

After spending 5 nights there, we travelled back down the east coast to the major port on the east coast called Padang-bai.

That was the last of our traveling around. From there, we went back to Kuta and settled in Kerobokan for the rest of our time (1 month).



– The Surf

Wow. That’s all I have to say. I’ve spend countless hours at the beaches in Sydney and I’ve never seen ANYTHING like this.

When we first landed in Bali, I thought we’d made a mistake. Our drive up the west coast showed up average shore breaks but once I got to the surf breaks, I lost my shit. The picture above is me body surfing and 12ft wave on a reef break just 20 minutes south of the airport at a place called Balangan.

It had the most perfect waves I’ve ever seen. The picture above is of me on one of those beautiful monsters.

– The Cost

Because of the amount of meat I consume, my food costs were about half what they are in Sydney ($10 -$15/day). If I’d chosen to survive on a local diet, I could have scraped by on $3/day and always had a full belly.

But I didn’t. So I didn’t.

If you stay away from the expensive, western hotels (who can range up to $1000/night), you can get great accommodation and next to nothing. Private rooms with a mosquito net and air conditioning were around $20 a night and if you didn’t mind the heat, you could get a room with a fan for as cheap as $8/night.

The rooms that were literally above the sand at Balangan had a double bed, a shared bathroom, a mosquito net, and a fan and were $8/night. Not bad…

– The Weather

Every day was the same: 16-20 degrees at night. 28-32 degrees during the day. Mostly sunny, occasionally cloudy, and it rained 3 times in 2 months.


Negatives (RANT)

– The quality… of almost everything

Seriously. Everything. I struggled to fin anything in Bali that was of any kind of high standard. I know… It’s a developing nation… I get it. But I would still expect that the people doing things in the developing nation would do them well. If you’re running a restaurant, run it well. If you’re making art, make it to a high standard. The footpaths were littered with 1 meter by 1 meter holes that opened up onto 1 meter drops into open drains. The restaurants were regularly out of the produce they needed to make the most routine dishes on their menu’s.

– The people

Things go wrong. I understand that. But the most disappointing thing about Bali was how people dealt with the problems when they went wrong.

“Giant clay pot fell of the second story of your house and almost smashed your head in? Hahaha… Oh, yeah. Pots will do that.”

“Giant stones in your gravel that you almost broke your teeth on? Hahaha… Yeah. Gravel will do that.”

– Shop owners

Seth Godin, Bali needs you. The basic business plan in Bali seems to be: Open a shop that sells the EXACT same thing as every other shop around you and then to attract customers, just yell the loudest and get in their way more often.

That’s it.

There was basically no-one who sold anything that couldn’t be bought at 100 different stores within a 5 minute walk.

And to overcome this limitation, they would stand on the street (or sometimes on the other side of the street) and YELL at you to buy their generic item that 50 other people sell.

To make things even more frustrating, shop keepers would follow you around the store and every time you touched something, they would assume that your touch was a declaration that you were going to purchase it, and start harrassing you about price.

And if that wasn’t enough, NOTHING had a price tag on it. You had to ask, every time in every store, and then begin this long, drawn out, laborious task of trying to negotiate a price for an item you don’t REALLY want, that you could by in any other store in the street.

– Internet

Intermittent at best and completely non-existent at worst.

The only place I found that had consistent and stable internet was the internet cafe set up by one of the larger internet companies (Global Extreme in Kerobokan). Everywhere else and you were basically taking shots in the dark.


In Conclusion

Bali is an amazing place if you’re looking for a cheap surfing holiday but it won’t be the lifestyle design capital of the world any time soon. There are just too many challenges to make the cheap lifestyle appealing for anyone making money online.

Obviously, this is just my opinion and you need to check everything out for yourself but this is what I went through.

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