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...
9 Tips for How to Survive Long Term Travel as a Couple Without Killing Each Other

9 Tips for How to Survive Long Term Travel as a Couple Without Killing Each Other

Eric and I had been married almost seven years, when we escaped for a round the world trip in 2009.  People cracked jokes about us hitting the Seven Year Itch while spending 24 hours a day, seven days a week together, often in stressful situations.  We all wondered whether we would come back in one piece. Not only did we survive 14 months of travel as a couple, with only a handful of fights (which we laugh about now), but we left the US over 18 months ago, to do it all over again.  This permanent escape has not only taken us through Eastern Europe, Central America, and Southeast Asia, but now we are living in a house in Bali.  We have spent A LOT of time together.  And, it was not until we landed in Bali that we found some real independence, when I rented my own motorbike.  So, how have we managed to survive this much time together over so many years, without killing each other? Here are my 9 tips for how to survive long term travel as a couple without killing each other: Travel With Two WiFi Devices – During our first RTW, we had one lap top.  When we were finally able to get on wifi, we fought over it.  I needed to plan the next destination, keep up with my blog, and pay bills.  Eric needed to be on Facebook and monitor the Red Sox, which to him was equally important as managing our finances.  Obviously, this caused a constant source of tension.  This trip, we have more than one wifi device, so that we...
Etihad Airways Business Class on Jet Airways Aircraft!

Etihad Airways Business Class on Jet Airways Aircraft!

What goes up must come down.  Good things don’t last forever. I am sure there are more metaphors, but I was amazed at how quickly our customer service experience with Etihad Airways soured.  At least they waited until our second flight.  After attentive customer service while on the ground in Amman, due to some Twitter exchanges, we landed at Etihad’s home base in Abu Dhabi, and things just went south. Earning and Redeeming Frequent Flier Miles We spent years collecting the miles we have, and I am a little stingy with how I use them.  I only redeem my miles for saver awards, meaning there is less availability, but when the seats are available, it is a steal.  Similarly, I only redeem miles for an upperclass award, like business class or first class, on a really good airplane, on a long haul flight. When we were figuring out how to get from Kuala Lumpur to London and back using miles for some of the legs and doing stop overs in the Middle East, our flight planning became like a giant logic puzzle.  Add in my trip to Dublin for TBEX, and it was a downright nightmare.  With miles on American Air, United, US Air, Delta, and British Airways, it became a search for who flies where, with which partners, and how can we book it, and what is the best value for our miles.  It’s a little fun to figure it all out, I won’t lie, but can be frustrating nonetheless.   Initially, we planned to fly from Dublin to Istanbul to Amman on Turkish Airlines using our United...
Is Jordan an Expensive Place to Travel? The Cost of Petra

Is Jordan an Expensive Place to Travel? The Cost of Petra

Ok, so we went to Jordan to see Petra, or more specifically, the Treasury, or even more crude, the Indian Jones building.  I know Petra is more than Indiana Jones, but still.  As we were tiring of our 8 week schedule of being on the road, we debated what to do about our post-Europe travel.  We were scheduled for almost two weeks in Jordan and Israel, and we ultimately cut it down to three days in Jordan – just enough to see Petra and either Wadi Rum or the Dead Sea.  We were exhausted and needed to get back to Asia. I have to say, if I had done my research ahead of time, I may not have gone at all.  That might be a harsh thing to say as I actually enjoyed my time in Jordan.  But, if I had known the cost of Petra and to float in the Dead Sea combined would be $100 per person, we probably would have flown straight through and made our way back to Bali a few days earlier.   I did not do my research ahead of time.  We did not buy a guide book, and I did very little reading.  I had read a few blogs awhile back when trying to figure out an itinerary and how long we needed.  I don’t remember any of them talking about the cost for any of these activities.  Perhaps that was because several of them were hosted by Visit Jordan on a blogger trip, and they did not pay the entrance fees themselves.  Regardless, I had no idea until the day we...
Thinking of Escaping in 2014? The Escape Manifesto

Thinking of Escaping in 2014? The Escape Manifesto

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love, than a success at something I hate.” The Escape Manifesto How should I read a book on escaping the corporate world when I have not been in the corporate world for 18 months?  With an open mind, realizing I left behind so many folks  who continue to struggle with how to escape their current predicament, realizing they may need some help. The Escape Manifesto: Quit Your Corporate Job. Do Something Different! is an inspirational call to action.  It is a how-to guide, where the ultimate goal is to change a predicament.  To live a more fulfilling life.  The Manifesto walks through the steps of escaping, similar to the stages of acceptance of loss, or the 12 step AA program.  It starts with the problem: a general “epidemic of anxiety and depression” that occurs in today’s society where kids are placed at a young age on an assembly line of education and careers.  A problem that rang quite close to home, as I did not plan to take the course I did.  I just fell into it. Walk the Travelator Knowingly This is how people find themselves on a “travelator,” a metaphorical moving sidewalk, where they are transported from one stage in life to another without taking any active steps to question how they got there, where they are going, or where the there even is.  The Manifesto’s advice is to walk the travelator knowingly, or get off.   It reminded me of many of the folks I once worked with, who don’t take the time to really think about why they are...
Traveling With Kids Gets Easier and Easier

Traveling With Kids Gets Easier and Easier

In the second of my family travel series, in the hopes of encouraging people to travel with their children, meet Ann Belle, a former travel agent. She is currently an American expat living in Germany with her husband and two kids. She blogs about traveling with kids and offers tips and tools to help children and families embrace travel at her blog, Travel Turtle. Ann is happy to connect with you via facebook or twitter.  Here are Ann’s thoughts on traveling with her little ones: These days, when I travel, I have my one-year old and three-year old with me. And with that it means I hear a lot of interesting feedback from people around me. The biggest thing I hear is from other parents. “I would love to travel with my kids, but it’s just too hard.” Those parents have a lot of reasons to back up their feelings. It’s too hard on the child. They don’t want to deal with all of the extra work involved. They’ve tried it once and it was a failure. That’s fair. I have always loved traveling. I’ve always known it was something that was going to be a part of my life.   Still, before I had kids, I had some of those same fears. A friend who had kids told me that, well, life and priorities change when you have kids. I didn’t want my priorities to change. I wanted to see the world, and I wanted to take my future kids with me.  So that’s what we did. We started traveling with our kids as soon as we could. My son’s first big trip,...