Getting Ripped Off In Bali

Getting Ripped Off In Bali

I am no novice to traveling in Asia, and I feel like I have put my time into giving Bali a chance, but there are days where I wonder, why the heck do I live in Bali?  These days are generally the ones were I get ripped off, or spend my day avoiding getting ripped off in Bali. There is no way of avoiding it, I am, in fact, a Bule.  Bule originally translated to albino, and was the word that the Balinese used when first seeing the Dutch settling in Indonesia.  Now, it refers to any foreigner, particularly of the white-skinned variety.  That includes me. There are benefits and burdens to being a Bule in Bali.  The biggest benefit relates to the cost of living here, and is the reason why an increasing number of expats, retirees, and digital nomads are calling Bali home.  When you earn your money online, or from other Western sources, and are living in Bali (or most of Southeast Asia), it is a steal. One of the burdens of being a Bule, in Bali and elsewhere in the region, is that we are often seen as giant ATM machines.  Now, I understand that there are a lot of things that I pay more for in Bali, solely because I am a Bule.  And, most of the time I am okay with it, because I know I earn more money than the average Balinese.  But, today, things went too far.  They went far enough that I want to scream that I am sick of getting ripped off in Bali. Our Babi Guling Place There...
When a Writer Drinks

When a Writer Drinks

Occasionally, when I drink, I start to write.  I often believe that the writing is profound, in a Truman Capote kind of way.  Then, I show it to Eric after, he reads it, shrugs his shoulders and I realize it was quite possibly, complete crap.  Because when a writer drinks, often times, it’s crap. On our way from Abu Dhabi to Dublin, we flew sheer across the Gulf.  Something I have never done during the day.  We were flying home to family, for a funeral, and certainly not the most celebratory of trips. That may have been why I had two, very good pours, of whiskey before 11 am.  Eric joined me.  At least I was not drinking alone. There was part of me that enjoyed the banter between Eric and I.  The discussions about our seat neighborhoods, the other people who boarded the plane, the fact that there was a window in the bathroom of our Etihad flight.  I think that we each relished the moment where we could pretend that this was a normal flight, a normal trip to Ireland, instead of a rushed, last minute booking to celebrate, and bury, someone who Eric thought of as a brother. I recognized how strange the flight was, even as we pretended to be normal.  Eric noticed that I had become fascinated with the landscape out the window.  As we made our way north, we flew over Kuwait City – so much beige, and in complete contrast to our landscape in Bali. Then, the map function on the Etihad entertainment system told me we were crossing over Baghdad. I...
Chicago The Windy City

Chicago The Windy City

The crisp, cool, fall air surrounded me, as I heard the rustle of the color-changing leaves.  I was sporting knee-high tan leather riding boots, dark skinny jeans, a bulky wool sweater and bright colored scarf. At least this is what I imagined I wanted last fall.  As friends posted about the fall in Chicago, I imagined this scene in my head.  A scene I never came close to experiencing during the 5 years I lived in Chicago.  Certainly not the riding boots or the skinny jeans. There was a brief moment when I missed the fall in Chicago the Windy City or really anywhere with seasons.  I loved that crisp, Autumn air.  But, I also knew that the romantic scene I was playing in my head like a Meg Ryan movie from the 90s, would only have lasted moments, even if it were real.  I knew that the wind would kick in a little too hard, the shivers would come, the grey skies would form, and the rain would threaten.  It would quickly turn my RomCom fantasy into the intro to a horror film as I remembered what the weather was really like in Chicago, and how much I hate the cold. Then, I arrived in Chicago for BlogHouse.  As our United flight touched down at O’Hare, the skies were dark grey, and if I didn’t know better, I recognized those skies as the ones I had seen hundreds of times before – just before a snow. It was 59 degrees when we landed in Chicago – with no coats and no socks.  After all, it was June.  Summer...

Foodies Guide to Taipei

Our initial purpose in going to Taipei was to visit a friend during a visa run from Bali.  Plus, we heard there was good food.  And, it is impossible to find a dumpling in Ubud. I was jonsing for some dumplings. I laid out a plan of where to eat, and most importantly, what to eat, as I started to create a Foodies Guide to Taipei.  And, if you are wondering how much food can two people eat in 5 days, check this out: Stay tuned for more information on the Foodies’ Guide to Taipei, or subscribe to the With Husband In Tow...

The Liberation of Downsizing

Just 5 weeks before shipping out on our new life, Eric found Fluent in Three Months. Among the 29 life lessons this guy learned during 8 years of RTW travel, this one spoke to me, particularly as we were selling and giving away 99% of what we owned.  Possessions Own You.  “Look at the real reason you want to buy more expensive crap and realise that it all comes down to validation from others in one way or another. You don’t really need any of it unless it’s directly related to essentials in how you work or survive. The need to buy new crap dictates your life – it fixes you in one location with that house and furniture, and it governs how much money you need to earn. And it almost never actually enriches your life in any way. The less you own the better.” As we donated stacks of books and gave away boxes of CDs, I thought about how much we spent on all of that stuff.  As I was downsizing, I donated dozens of shoes, I thought about how many of them I barely wore.  In the end we had about 64 wine glasses of varying shapes, sizes, and quality.  I love my wine, but generally can only drink out of one glass at a time.  We have never served wine to 62 of our friends at once.  Who, outside of a small commercial establishment needs that many wine glasses?  We lived a Crate & Barrel lifestyle and although we never really tried to keep up with the Joneses, we continued to accumulate stuff for most of the...

Gaining Weight and “Depression”

5 Years and 40 Pounds I moved to DC in the Spring of 1999, just out of college and ready for law school.  I was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, like all new law students – the world was at my feet and ready for my taking.  In July 2001, we got married.  I was 125 pounds and 5’7”.  Not bad.  I looked good on my wedding day, happy and filled with hope for the future.  After law school, I clerked for a judge in DC while getting an additional law degree, specializing in tax.  All of this to help me land the perfect big law job.  It worked.  In April 2004, we moved to Chicago for a job with a top tier law firm.  That was when weight and depression started to do me in.   I don’t know what, exactly, made me put on so much weight in Chicago.  Was it the diet of Italian beef sandwiches, french fries, Mexican food (La Bamba’s “burritos as big as your head”), or was it merely my metabolism changing after I turned 25?  Or, was it the weather: cold and dreary and ultimately depressing for several months out of the year.  Okay, more than several.  Our first summer in Chicago, the temperature never went above 90, until September. I think it was a little of both of those things, but more than anything, it was sitting behind a desk for 60-80 hours a week for the first time in my life.  I was working crazy hours with an unpredictable schedule.  I could not get into an exercise routine.  I lived in a...