Postcards from Bali: An expat’s guide to Ubud

Bali. Love it, or hate it?  People are never half-hearted about this island. It either calls to you, or it doesn’t. Kuta doesn’t define Bali, any more than the less salubrious parts of our cities define Australia. We are among those who love the place and its people, and, after visiting since the mid-80s, have now chosen to spend most of each year here.

In this new regular column, let me share what it is that entrances us; what expat retirement life is like (for us); something of Balinese traditional life and people and organisations that inspire us. I am thinking of profiling some of the interesting people we know, including an 87-year-old Australian who is affectionately referred to as Miss Marple. I’ll also talk about the frustrations — it’s not all frangipanis and nasi goreng, after all.

But who are we? Eddie and I are now in our 70s (well in) and moved to the hills of Ubud at the beginning of 2013. Why Ubud? Perhaps that’s for another column, but let me say we run out of time when we are frequently asked,”but what do you do all day?”. In recent days we have been to film screenings, listened to live music, lost the weekly trivia night (again), been guests at a two-day Balinese wedding and attended the local Rotary meeting.

The Ubud Food Festival in May and the Ubud Readers and Writers Festival in October are not only events to anticipate but events we become actively involved in. Life is rich and stimulating. There’s nothing like keeping busy, having intergenerational friends of many nationalities and trying to learn a new language to keep the brain cells fizzing. 

Maybe you also want to know how easy it is to retire in Bali (there are hurdles to jump, but there are also excellent agents to assist). I can elaborate our own experiences, but as a starter I recommend Canadian expat Cat Wheeler’s entertaining book Retired, Rewired: Living without Adult Supervision in Bali. It’s on Kindle, and free if you are part of the Kindle Unlimited program. If there are topics you’d like to know more about (from our Ubud-centric point of view, not expert advice) let me know and I’ll try to address them. 

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So look out each fortnight for my postcard on Travel at 60. Must rush. Wayan will be here soon for our weekly massage. There’s another question: why so many Wayans? Who is Ida Bagus? Naming is far more complicated than you might first think. So much to tell you. Perhaps another time. 

Have you been an expat in Indonesia? Share your own experiences in the comments section below. 




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