Category Archives: The Frugal Balinist

March 29, 2017

*Important Nazava update! Since we bought our Nazava Bening XL Water Filter three years ago, and reported on how frugal a source of clean safe water it is in this column, we have learned how to use it, information that is only available in Bahasa Indonesia. Installing and cleaning instructions are in the manual and on You Tube (in Indonesian). Averaging about three times cheaper than buying the big Aqua water bottles, Nazava’s 3 water filter candles last up to 7,000 liters or 1-2 years, depending on usage. Dirty water reduces the lifetime of candles. What’s important to remember is that ... [ Read More ]

March 1, 2017

*Stormy weather: March-April is the beginning of Bali’s windy season (musim cuaca badai). Start looking for a good roofer (tukang atap) who are not always that easy to find. Waterproofing roofs is an art. Don’t let just anybody climb on your roof lest they cause damage. Charging Rp400,000 in the Denpasar/Kuta/Legian area and Rp200,000 in the outer districts, they often need special equipment (tall ladders, cherry pickers, ropes, etc.) to do their work. High winds and rain drive leaves and organic debris up under ceramic tiles (genteng), degrading the underlayment and causing leaks. Now that the weather is a little drier, it’s time to ... [ Read More ]

February 1, 2017

*Health/safety tips. Smokers are two times more likely to die from a bursting blood vessel. *Small bottles of Soffell (Rp14,000/100 ml) and Autan Refresh (Rp12,000/100 ml) are cheap and effective anti-mosquito (anti nyamuk) lotions and sprays. *So you don’t suffer horrific face injuries in an accident, use a sturdy helmet that wraps around your jaw and mouth with only your eyes showing – called a helm tropong – when renting a motorbike. *In Bali, honking/beeping your car or skooter simply means “I’m here!” as you overtake a vehicle or approach a busy intersection. *Young coconut water (air kelapa muda) makes an excellent rehydration liquid (pengganti ... [ Read More ]

January 4, 2017

*Natural air-drying. God created evaporation, so let it work for you! An economical, efficient and environmentally friendly way to dry pots, pans, dishes, cups and glasses and eating and cooking implement is to use a rak piring available at Dapur Prima stores, supermarkets and traditional markets. These large drying racks are particularly useful if you have a large family, don’t have enough kitchen countertop space or don’t want to buy an expensive dishwasher (mesin cuci piring) that can cost Rp6,500,000 (Henkel) to Rp16 million (Ariston). Placed inside or outside the kitchen, put a rubber or vinyl mat underneath to catch the dripping water. .Masters is a sturdy brand; ... [ Read More ]

December 7, 2016

*Poncho pointers: This single large sheet of vinyl with an opening in the center for the head and an extra hood to ward off rain and wind is cheap, waterproof and offers reasonable ventilation. If used properly on a scooter/motorbike or bicycle, a poncho will cover the head, arms, thighs plus a bag or backpack. What you don’t want is for the poncho to blow around in windy conditions, a super pain and dangerous. The wings and sides must be tucked in so the fabric doesn’t get caught in the chain or wheel spokes. Riders must anchor the front and sit ... [ Read More ]

November 9, 2016

*Food tips. According to the New York Times (Oct16), mercury can be harmful for pregnant women and small children. Though experts maintain that fish remains preferable to red meat, avoid mercury by skipping ikan todak (swordfish), ikan hiu (shark) and ikan kembung (mackerel) that accumulate high levels of the element. *Have you ever wondered why most Indonesians are instantly able to tell why any type of a banana is ripe by just looking at it? *Beans and other legumes (lentils, black beans, etc.) are a good, low cost source of protein. Baby food can be made from beans by cooking ... [ Read More ]

October 12, 2016

*Transferwise. Indonesian transfers are more expensive than in most other countries but Transferwise ( still beats onerous bank charges by a long shot. It is a dirt-cheap hassle-free way to transfer money from any bank worldwide to a bank account in Bali like Mandiri and BCA – far less expensive than ATM withdrawals. Your foreign-based bank charges no fees for transfers to your Bali-based bank. For years I’ve been enduring punishing bank and foreign exchange charges of from US$60 to US$80 per month, but on a recent transfer of $1400 from my U.S. bank to my Bali-based bank, Transferswise charged a ... [ Read More ]

September 14, 2016

*Water tips. *If your water smells bad, it could be caused by heavy rain that has caused outflows from your or your neighbor’s septic systems. *Inspect the cap of all purchases of big water bottles to see if there are signs of the cap having been removed/replaced and the bottle filled with river, tap or whatever water; the cellophane over the cap should be heat shrunk sealed to make them tamper-proof. *After paying Rp30,000 for the large (19 liter) bottle, you can have water dealers fill the empty bottle again  for Rp11,000 to Rp13,000. *The cheapest way to get clean water for your ... [ Read More ]

August 17, 2016

*Food tips. Carrot season: big beautiful specimens Rp15,000/kg. *At Bali’s popular beachside restaurant center of Jimbaran Beach, choose the seafood “dinner packet” (paket dinner promo) that will ensure plenty of food at an affordable price (Rp100,000 to Rp300,00) to easily feed 2-4 people. *Best Ubud take out restaurants: Black Beach (tel. 971-353); Taco Casa (hp 081-224-222-357); Fly Cafe (tel. 975 440); Pizza Bagus (tel. 978-520)). *Kacang hijau (mung bean): This small, green legume, in the same plant family as peas and lentils, is an extremely high source of protein, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients. In Bali, they are sold (Rp10,000/500 gr packet, Rp20,000/kg) as ... [ Read More ]

July 20, 2016

*Money tips: Retirement visas cost around Rp7 million (half a motorbike!) every year. So owning/renting a home and operating a motor vehicle, the two biggest expenses in the West, are less expensive in Bali. Also food, clothes and entertainment are all cheaper. Good schools are high priced, though. *Most banks will not open an account for you if you don’t have a KITAS, but some will if you have an existing customer “introduce” you. *Golf Club Membership is a bizarre concept where you pay millions or rupiah (up to Rp3,000,000) in advance for the privilege of paying hundreds of thousands (Rp450,000 ... [ Read More ]