SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT: BALI
Let’s get to the nitty gritty!
To start off my series of ‘Something to think about’, I have a personal story from Bali, Indonesia. A country that I would say is the number one international holiday destination for all of us Aussie’s looking for a relaxing time in the sun, drinking cocktails, enjoying the beach and eating delicious food.
I mean you can’t blame us… it’s a dirt cheap destination after all.
It’s a beautiful country so close to Australia that majority of us love for the people, the food, the culture, the scenery and of course the price. But something that we often get too caught up in is… Bartering.
Barter, barter, barter.
For some reason, we feel like every price we are given needs to be negotiated by over 50%. Yes, bartering is a part of their culture and there are certainly cases where we spend more money than we need to, get scammed into things that we didn’t want and buy things that we really did not need.
And of course, why spend more money than we need to right?
Well, unfortunately, there is a reason for everything…
On my families first trip to Bali a few years ago, whilst looking for a taxi in Seminyak we came across a beautiful man, Komang. He took us to our destination for only a few dollars, which for me was a shock as it was my very first time in a ‘third world’ country. For the rest of this trip, we used his services to take us to all the sites we wanted to see. On many occasions driving us from 8 am – 5 pm all over Bali for as little as $40 for the entire day!
(Just to put that into context, in Australia that would get you a short 25-minute journey.)
Throughout this trip and my families future trips to Bali, we learnt more and more about this mans life. And still to this day we are in regular contact with him, helping him to live a better life for himself and his beautiful family.
Here are some of the things that you all should know:
- This man works every single day of his life (excluding religious days).
- He works to feed his family of wife and 2 kids.
- Agung, his wife, had a life-threatening Thyroid Goiter to which they could not afford to treat.
- He takes home around $80 AUD a month.
Which is 12x less than the average weekly wage in Australia.
- His rent costs $60 a month.
- His house is the size of the average bedroom, so small that he regularly sleeps on his front porch and allows his family to sleep inside (pictured above)
(Update, he’s recently moved into a larger house to fulfil the needs of his new and growing children – All with the help of my family)
- His daily income goes directly to providing food for his family.
- And you know what.. he is still always smiling.
There are almost 10,000,000 international visitors to Bali every year. The demand for tourism is so high that 700 hectares of land are destroyed each year for luxury hotels and restaurants for international visitors. Yes, without us their country would not be as economically developed and without us, the millions of locals would earn much less than the average $2 a day.
But it amazes me that there are hundreds of forums on the web telling us ‘How to Barter’ and ‘Visiting Bali for cheap’. Like having a cheap holiday is the best thing about the country, rather than the beauty and culture.
Here in Australia, we come from a country that has so much wealth… Yet we still struggle to give a little money to people that are desperately in need. We often forget that these people are living lives that we would dread to live. We complain about working more than 38 hours a week when these people don’t even get a single day off – let alone annual leave or the much-needed Christmas holidays.
We often forget that to them… We are rich!
We have so much, yet we give so little.
This man works 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year. He stands around waiting for us ‘first world’ tourists to use his service whilst he competes with the thousands of other taxi drivers trying to get us in their cabs. Often only doing 2 trips a day and taking home just a few dollars, although that doesn’t worry him. He is eternally grateful for all the work that comes his way and is very happy in the life that he lives – Something we all should learn by.
Can you really imagine slaving away for tourists who are sleeping in a hotel that would cost you 4 months of full-time work, just for a one night stay?
Or waiting for them to buy their luxury home decor piece that costs more than your entire month’s rent?
Or driving them to their 5* restaurant when you can hardly afford more than a bag of rice? And STILL, the price isn’t good enough?
I think not!
So… On your next trip to Bali take some time to think about Komang. A man whose wife was very ill, who earns less per day than your 10 minutes of work and who’s house is smaller than your bedroom.
I encourage you to be a little more giving in a country that needs it because their land is being destroyed for us. The least we can do is give it’s people an extra bag of rice or two. There are thousands of locals who are living off the money we give them. They are hounding us to get into their cab and buy their clothes because that is how they survive. There is no welfare system in place, these people have nothing and they want your money for a damn good reason.
Let’s start to appreciate Bali’s beauty rather than how affordable our holiday will be.
Let’s build a real relationship between these two countries who want something from one another. We want an international holiday, they want to live.
Give them their $5 cab ride with no haggling and it will potentially save their lives.