Our Ubud score: 8.5 out of 10... Yours ??

22 May 2017

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”.

In the ‘real world’ across the sea everyone is on the net and knows it almost all, even when their former school education had some leakage. Doesn’t make everyone a better person though, which is why I respect the farmer much the same.

Of course, for us smart folks it is enough to know London is in England and that they have great beer.

You see, I like my local Pak Mangku. Sometimes I meet him when walking the dog. Pak is sitting in the rice fields. Just sitting there. He smiles when I ask: “Apa kabar hari ini?” and answers: ”just getting my obat pusing”. (‘head ache medicine’, referring to the peace in the rice paddy).

What does this say about the options to find balance and reflection around Ubud?

It is all out here, ready to use, even without turning in for meditation sessions.

Try that in Jl Raya Seminyak or near Kuta Square.

What if we would ask two expats on Monkey Forest Rd. for their opinion about life here? What do you think we’d hear today, given that one even may have experienced what Ubud was like before bumper-to-bumper traffic and Starbucks. This could go like -

1. Visitors who come here for the first time and expect to find the romantic charm and ambiance as promised in the travel brochure, are often already disillusioned after the second day in town. You would hear: “ Nice place, but not so much cheaper than Spain or Mexico. Then the awful traffic! Also, you cannot even get a decent steak here, just chicken or chicken. And have you heard that thing about this politician in jail because of his religious comments? What is next? Alcohol prohibition? A mosque near Ubud market?”

2. “Hi how is life today? I am just back from getting my haircut. They upped the price, it’s now 50 thousand, but gosh, so what? He gave a nice shoulder massage too. Ah, yes, have you seen? Another Supermarket opened in Jl Andong. Pepito. Already been there? Great alternative to Delta. Delicious stuff. Life here is getting better and better. Then last week this Food Festival! Met some friends, all much enjoying the menus from the corners of Indonesia. Nice other folks around too. Had fun! By the way, come tomorrow and join us to the hot springs in Kintamani”. “Sorry, already agreed to go to Virgin Beach in Karangasem”…

Well, this was just invented talk, but this is how opinions really differ. You get what you focus on. Always.

Everybody knows that in real life there is rarely something either pure white or pitch black. Many gray tones in between and the same goes for evaluating life in Ubud. I don’t say ‘Bali’, because some people on the coast have a different mindset and may evaluate their quality of life from yesterdays Canggu Club experience. No, we are talking ‘Ubud’ here.

That reminds me of yesterday. I met this guy, Michael from USA and his wife from the Philippines.

Now this is a real story about this nice couple, both about 50, well educated well dressed, just a pleasant couple . They have been living the past 30 years on Hawaii. He was an earth moving contractor, she working as a nurse. He told me about his love for kite boarding “imagine, waves as high as this house here and crystal clear water…”

“So what are you doing in Bali then Mike”, I asked. ”Hawaii must be at least one number up in comparison”. “Well, yes,” he said, “I made my money there, all good, but we have been coming to Bali for years now. I permanently rent a small place in Sanur and now, that I sold my business, we are going to move to Ubud.”

“That sounds nice Mike, but still that does not explain to me why you don’t stay in Hawaii”.

He said: “Cannot afford to. Look at us, we are healthy and might make it to a ripe age of 90 or so. When being about 75 in Hawaii I better decide to die, because our money is finished. Life is expensive and you cannot easily step down from your living standard and expect your friends and neighbors are still with you. Socializing is what we love. Here in Ubud I don’t worry. Easy to find nice people from all walks of life. Everyone seems easy going. Also, Bali has this year just again been selected as the best Holiday Island destination in the World. That sure means something too. Bali is much better for us.”

He went on: “No one here really cares on which level in social life or comfort and luxury we decide to live. Specially Ubud has that option. Using a scooter doesn’t mean you are ‘piss poor“ (sorry, his words).

“Look at the changes. There are the ladies who come because of eat, pray love. They grow hair under their armpits, go to yoga or courses and don’t worry too much about appearances. I take this as indication that life here can be what you want it to be. She fell in: “I like it too, all feels just right to us.”

There we go. Bali beats Hawaii. Ubud beats the coast.

We continued then talking about the value of time in our lives and he, having found out what I do for a living, said he is looking now for a nice place to buy or lease in Ubud.

Amazingly he started by saying: “Of course we have our budget, but if there is a home for 350 thousand Dollars and we really like it, I am glad to pay 350 thousand and one Dollar to live there. My coffin won’t have a luggage rack and to me finding the place which suits us best comes first before the mathematics.” He added: “Bargaining is part of the deal, when we are getting close, but not the first thing on my mind now. Just so that you know”.

In my opinion this is the right way to look at taking care of our precious and only existence. Deciding in which range we can afford to set us up for the time to come and then going for what the heart says. Does not mean we should forget, e.g. about resale value and contractual issues. However, I will keep this in mind when telling our staff about his preferred choice of home.

By the way, here is a firm principle of UbudProperty.

We try very seriously to figure out, which property, buying structure and other perimeters are in the best interest of our prospective buyers. Only when we believe we have a clear understanding of what suits best, do we start rummaging through our listings and bring up suggestions for inspection.

Accordingly Mike has now to wait a day or two, until we have done our homework and can present tailored suggestions.

He was also asking: “Do you accept payment in bit coin?”

First time ever, that I heard this from a buyer.

I had to explain, that the Real Estate Broker does not receive any money, nor does Mike as buyer have to pay any commission, because the vendor pays us. Also that it is not likely that anyone will accept substantial payment for a property in a crypto currency soon.

Anyway, I looked into this, in order just to understand the basics and found out this all may change soon.

Absolutely amazing – you may know, those bit coins started out in 2004 with a value of less than One Dollar each. Today they are trading at USD 1.800.- plus, and their price is still rising. What if you would have bought early enough bit coins for $ 100.- only? You’d be sitting on a nest egg of $ 180.000.- today, together with the chance of another strong future value increase. (Experts predict by 2024 between 100 and 400,ooo USD each !! Ooops?!) Internationally people want to be independent now of fiat currencies and the bit coin value has therefore to go up, as there is a cap on the amount available. As indicator of the trend: One year ago Russia was criminalizing trade in crypto currency. Today they legalized it. China is buying as if there is no tomorrow…

Oh no, not to worry, UbudProperty does not want to sell bit coins to you, nor are we trading. Just meant as a suggestion, - keep up with the times and maybe get informed about something the experts say will become as big as the internet.

You have a minute more to spend with me?

Because this month there is nothing particularly new happening in Ubud, I am just innocently typing away about what randomly goes through my mind:

These days much concern is focusing on the unbelievable situation, that one of the few straight Indonesian politicians was thrown into jail by judges, who may be fearful of religious fundamentalists. People who are so insecure of their belief that they need to cling to an outdated law about blasphemy in order to create their status of perceived power.

‘What if ‘they’ would win next elections and work towards making Indonesia a Caliphate? This is probably topmost on their agenda. Imagine, no wine and beer for your vising friends and worse, Sharia law for us all. Who would want to imagine sitting in a beach restaurant in let’s say Ahmed, nibbling on halal fruit juice and all which could be pretty and moves on two legs is securely wrapped from head to toe?

Well, it is the same as when saying ‘hati hati’ (be careful) as a ‘good bye’. We know that in theory a serious or deadly accident could happen, as recently in the south with 2 ex-pats on their bikes, one stone drunk, one lady without helmet. However, chances are good it will not happen to you and me, because we are much aware of the road dangers around here, never dream and always watch out. You sure do, yes?

Same limited likelihood applies to the dreadful scenario imagined before, although those fundamentalists may want to influence the political landscape to their max.

Fact is, that Indonesia’s economy will be growing yearly by about 5%. That means also, that many people can improve their lives, focus on spending, on sending the kids to school and have a glimpse per TV and HP into the wide world outside, where things are running reasonably well without religious dogma in politics. It will sure get better, Just: when?

In an attempt to smoothen the rough edges of controversy in Jakarta, President Jokowi recently assembled the leaders of the predominant religions to ask them to preach moderation. I believe, there is no need to worry, other than to feel upset and sad about the imprisonment of Pak ‘Ahok’, the ex-Governor of Jakarta, - Well, who knows, he is collecting so much empathy on top of the well earned respect for his work, that this may carry him one day into the Country’s presidency, fingers crossed.

Let me tell you that I was initially much concerned myself and have been calling a good friend and another ex-business partner in Lombok, both Muslims and Hadji’s at that, to ask about their views. (You must know, that I lived in Lombok for 4 years before I saw the light and moved over to Bali).

Both said that the majority of their friends have no joy in what happened in Jakarta and that they are not in favor of stricter laws which will endanger business and make their life more difficult again. Nobody knows exactly, how many moderate Muslims indeed represent the majority in the Country, but if it has not changed, then my experience from talks and traveling is, we live amongst people with heart and compassion and that, like everywhere else, exceptions confirm the rule.

Don’t worry, be …

Thanks for hanging in. You probably found that today we had some kind of chit-chat meeting. Hope you did not mind.

If you want to talk with me about more professional topics just write to: ramon@ubudproperty.com

Looking forward to any comments or suggestions and with kind regards,


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