Newsletter

The announcement of Standard & Poor’s (S&P) to award Indonesia an investment grade rating on May 20 was a relief for many. The rating upgrade provided positive news for investors for at least two reasons. Firstly, it ended the long speculation for Indonesia’s sovereign rating position. S&P was the last of the three big credit rating agencies to award investment grade rating for Indonesia. Secondly, the upgrade for Indonesia was made when some large emerging economies experienced either downward outlook revision or a rating downgrade. After more than 20 years, with the last five years being held at BB+ or one level below investment grade, Indonesia is now back to investment grade rating from S&P. Before assessing any future impact of this rating adjustment, we should look first what are the reasons for this upgrade.

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Money doesnt make you happy. I now have $50 million but I was just as happy when I had $48 million. Arnold Schwarzenegger Often I go for lunch to a small restaurant near our Ubud office. The other day I overheard someone talking at the next table: “ …so fresh at night, - and all this rain …” Instantly it was clear these people are not from the southern coast. There it is clearly warmer than in Ubud, also they have less rain. You may know that Ubud is an average 220 m above sea level. About every 100 meter up, the temperature drops by almost 1 degree and for many in Ubuds south they also catch some cooling sea breeze from south-east, whereas just 15 minutes up north you would live about 500 m high and experience even more fresh conditions.

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I don’t know about you, but for me changes in overseas politics and economy happen so fast, that living in Bali with it’s unique set of minor local issues, feels like living in a distant seemingly parallel world, just sharing the same breathing air and gravity. For illustration- let’s go out to see the farmer in the rice paddy somewhere near Ubud, when his back comes up from planting. In order to be friendly you may think about saying something like: ‘Apa kabar Pak, saya dari London” and what you may get back is the question if that is even further away than Jakarta. You may have heard yourself that some of the local villagers have not even been “down to Denpasar ever, because it is too far”.

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These monthly updates are meant to inform you about Ubud, about living here and making the best of it. In April the Balinese have Galungan and Kuningan as major religious and traditional events to celebrate. I guess everybody knows at least about the basic background for the ceremonies, same as Balinese have a general understanding what Christmas is about. To me it seems as if each year the penjors become more artistic and sophisticated. ‘My’ village up in Tegallalang looks absolutely beautiful with each family having their penjor proud in front of their home, transforming the village road into a much photographed attraction. There is only one Bali and hey, what a bliss, we are part of it.

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Ogoh-ogoh

15 March 2017

After a long night out and upon the first glimpse into the mirror the next morning, some of us may sigh: “ogoh ogoh!”. However, there is little or no connection to the namesake Balinese Tradition on the evening of Nyepi day, 27 - 28 March. This tradition and the amazing peace on the next day will be the issue this time. As seasoned Bali friend you may already know that the Ogoh Ogoh parade and connected rituals have only been added to the Nyepi ceremony in 1980. Back then there was some uncertainty if under Soeharto this may be accepted and permitted to continue. Over time it became a standard event for which some people, mainly Japanese, even specially travel to Bali.

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