Category Archives: Observations


Most likely each and every one of us Bali expats knows the Barong: a demon of the Balinese Hindu mythology, half animal, half god, who guards the village community. To encourage him in fulfilling this duty, he is frequently honored in elaborate dances, usually represented by a scary dragon’s head. So it seems only natural that Harri thought of this demon when he founded a snake club and called it B.A.R.O.N.G. “I already liked snakes when I was still a child. I must have been about 8 years old when I went out for the first time to catch snakes ... [ Read More ]

Juru Parkir – by Rainer Scholz

Until recently the morning ride to the market was the perfect addition to the first cup of hot coffee: an irrevocable signal that the night finally had passed and that I had withstood the temptation to be lulled back into the next round of sleep by the early tropical sun. The more so as both – the coffee just as the market – until now have proven to be elements of predictable stability and reliable quality that defied the daily tsunami of alterations and micro-disasters that usually fill my little universe. Last year this changed, too. Since then the ride ... [ Read More ]

Blue Smoke – by Rainer Scholz

Among various recent campaigns raging all over the archipelagos foreigners might notice the one for the implementation of laws already passed years ago for the protection of so called non-smokers. Now Indonesian rule and regulations surely give reason for much bickering, but one thing can be stated quite clearly: for smokers Indonesia is still an almost undisturbed paradise. Only in Burma smokers possibly fare better still: there they don’t even have to stop smoking during landing procedures on the planes of the national domestic carrier (also known as “flying refugee camps“). However these landings do fail so frequently – and ... [ Read More ]

The Kosong & Habis Ltd. – by Rainer Scholz

So these were the first words I learned in the language of my new host country: kosong & habis. At least as far as my memory goes. Right afterwards I learned rusak, hancur and putus, but to this delicate linguistic complex we will dedicate another chapter in a future edition of our little language guide for the professional Bali expat. So today’s lecture will only be about kosong & habis, which, as everybody knows, are inseparable, identical twins: where one shows up, the other cannot be far. And similar indeed they look, but still must not be mistaken. There once ... [ Read More ]

Sick and Sicker

This author spent the major part of the last three decades working somewhere in South East Asia. Collapsed with malaria on the roadside, evacuated by private plane, tortured by the military dentist – this author had it and survived. Not to mention countless motorbike and other accidents. Another survivor is a friend of this author: an expat living on Bali without health insurance, he recently survived complete cancer therapy in Singapore that ended with a bill of about 25.000 US$. Both of us survived innumerable chats in innumerable bars revolving around the endless topic of which insurance is the cheapest, ... [ Read More ]

Pelni – the Indonesian Fleet by Rainer Scholz

Actually it is a well-known fact to all of us, but still we should recall it over and over again. It determines our daily life in almost every aspect, even if we hardly ever want to realize: Indonesia is the country with the most islands on earth. Would you want to spent only a single day on each of them and had you a helicopter at your command for these trips, even a very long life span would not be sufficient. Indonesia sits right on the ring of fire, this huge bagel of volcanoes which spans this earth, and thus ... [ Read More ]


The sate seller reminded me that the time had come once again. To put it correctly, it was actually not him to remind me, but his absence. The barbershop was orphaned, and so was the nasi goreng shop: we were closing in on Idul Fitri, the yearly exodus of the Javanese heading back home had started. The luck is with the absentees. Those who can afford the trip including the expenses for gifts expected by the people back home had packed up and were gone. Sate obviously sold well enough last season. The ones who still are here most likely ... [ Read More ]