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What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Old Oct 30th 2022, 2:52 pm
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Default What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

We were enjoying life in a villa in Sanur until 03.2020 when Covid turned into a true-blue crisis and Australians were told to get out of wherever they were overseas and back home, pronto. By a superhuman effort I got everything sorted out and securely done in less than two weeks and made it back to Melbourne.

Two years and four months later I was able to return to Indonesia on the "new" 30 day tourist visa, which I then easily renewed for a further 30 days without leaving the country and at a reasonable cost. Which gave me enough time to up all the pieces, fix the loose bits, and make a sort of basic plan for us to return to Bali. Which wehope to do, early 2023.

Indonesia's visa system appears to have greatly changed. The old pre-Covid tourist visa is now for 30 days only and costs Rp500,000 (at the latest exchange rate AUD$54) but can be renewed for a further 30 days through a registered agent, at a cost of from Rp1.5 mil to Rp2.5 mil, depending on where you are, and more importantly without having to leave the country. For this visa Bali seems to be cheapest, even if in the last week the visa price went up by Rp1 mil, obviously it's now tourist high season. Even then it's far cheaper as an option than flying to Singapore (which I hated) or Malaysia (nicer, if still expensive) and then back to Indonesia to kickstart the process. For an 70+ year old all this to'ing and fro'ing is to use a polite word, tiresome, and I hope there must a better way.

Pre-Covid there were many Western expats in Bali. Now, I'm not so sure. I was there for three days last week, and while I found that much to be found there is the same as it was pre-Covid - sadly, the Cafe Batujimbar, my old hangout, was demolished and the site is being redeveloped, and it may well be that it will never again resurface in whatever avatar the future may hold for it - much has changed.

Prices now are higher for most things, especially transport, fares to go anywhere by taxi or hire car have mstly floated through the roof, but bargaining is still possible and some Balinese drivers are still decent about charging as close to the old prices as they can afford. Which is good. I revisited old hangouts, renewed old relationships, shopped at Hardy's where I found the staff much improved, and the pace of day to day life remains mostly as serene as it was. All most reassuring to this old duffer whose fondest hope is to be able to return to Bali to spend some quality time doing enjoyable things at affordable prices, before the time comes for my eventual, I hope, cremation and scattering of my ashes in the southern ocean.

Without woofing on too much, are there still any foreign expats who were there pre-Covid, now in Bali? If yes, please would you care to comment on how things in general are there, about the cost of living, ease of getting around and doing things, and generally the day to day scene for expats?

I am particularly interested in Sanur, with Denpasar a close second and Bedugul (yes I know, hardly a place where foreign tourists congregate longer than a visit to the lake temple and then/or a smorgasbord Bali lunch), Kuta-Legian-Seminyak-Kerobokan is of so-so interest (I mean, consider my age) but I am still curious, Ubud before yes, now not so much, as a two hour visit last week rekindled my old notion that more than ever it's a poo-bah mix of Kuta without a beach and Denpasar the traffic jams. It took us 50 minutes to travel less than a kilometer from the town limit to the Monkey Forest Road and along the Main Street to the Campuhan bridge, and I'm sorry, but my life is too short for such annoyances. The Cafe Lotus is till there but there was a lineup several meters long waiting to get in and we decided to give it a miss. Old pleasures die hard, but such is life.

I will be interested in the comments others will post. Also I have several other stories of interest to share, but for now I will keep them to myself and await the response from this thread.

Again, many thanks to those who will post.

Last edited by christmasoompa; Oct 30th 2022 at 3:00 pm. Reason: Removed name of third party, as they may not want it posted on a public forum!
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Old Jan 22nd 2023, 7:50 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Hoo, the silence in response (well, after all isn't "no comment" a comment in itself?) to my post has been nothing short of deafening - which to me says one of two things, firstly that we no longer have the expat population in Bali that was there pre-Covid, or secondly there is very little interest in Indonesia these days. Or as I quite suspect, a bit of both.

The recent news regarding the latest Indonesian long-term resident's visa (for the super rich) and the so far near-total lack of interest in those who are able to afford the ridiculously high amount of money required to secure this new visa, leads me to believe that few expats now consider Bali to be a desirable location. Gone are the heady days when the long-missed David and a few other dedicated members would post regularly about their lives and ongoing events in this once-fabled isle. Pre-Covid I knew some two dozen expats in Sanur, but with the advent of the Covid crisis in early '20 all of us left, and I am now told that none have returned.

I will be back in Sanur next week and I wonder if I will be the only one from the Good Old Days to return. Certainly our first visit to Bali will be 60% to catch up with friends and 30% to check up on things there to see if we will be returning or not in the next 12 months. I rather suspect we won't - other destinations are easier to move to and live in, visas in Thailand and the Philippines are far from being as seemingly idiotic as this latest scheme by Jakarta to grab yet more cash from expats, and I'm told that sadly, costs for tourists in Bali are now so high that even casual tourists are avoiding the place. A friend who stayed four days in Sanur last month has told us that taxi fares from the airport to his hotel in the center of the town, which were AUD$6-$8 in 2020, are now a whopping AUD$25 with some taxi drivers actually hustling for up to AUD$50 for a 12 kilometer trip if they think the suckers who have just landed at Ngurarai Airport know sufficiently little as to be prepared to pay this ridiculous fare. Hotel and food prices too have gone up by up to 50% but the same friend said there are still budget options to be had if one has the time and the nous to seek them out, tho' even the big-name hotels have cut their standards (notably in food) and reduced staff and the differences are very noticeable.

Not good news for those of us who are on budgets. So it may well be that we will be looking at Thailand or the Philippines or even Malaysia (the free 90 day visa there is still alive and well and apparently immigration and customs now have a very relaxed attitude to new arrivals intending to stay longer term) as a bolt-hole for my retirement. My plan to be in Asia for 3-4 months and then fly out to Australia again is still on the cards for us, but Indonesia is now charging top dollar for short-term tourist visas - the free 30 days visa in place pre-Covid has now been replaced with an AUD$50 fee visa which can be renewed for a further 30 days but at a cost of from AUD$150-$250 depending on where one buys it and how well one knows to bargain.

Not good news. It's now time for savvy tourists to look for new travel options, and Indonesia may have gone down a fair few notches on the Desirable Destinations In Asia list. Which is sad, but as we all know, time passes and all things changed. So be it.
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Old Jan 24th 2023, 10:57 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Originally Posted by JDWoowoo50 View Post
... or even Malaysia (the free 90 day visa there is still alive and well and apparently immigration and customs now have a very relaxed attitude to new arrivals intending to stay longer term) as a bolt-hole for my retirement.
You are correct about the 90 day tourist visa. But I don't know where you got that second part of your statement from. Malaysia relaunched their MM2H "retirement visa" program last year, under new rules and regulations. Especially the financial hurdles to overcome have been raised. For example: new applicants have to proof that they receive a monthly income exceeding RM 40,000 (approx. 9,000 USD). Also the bond which needs to be deposited in a fixed deposit account with a Malaysian bank has increased: it is now 1 million MYR.
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Old Jan 27th 2023, 1:03 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Many thanks, SushiFan. About Malaysia first.

My few remaining friends there now all want to leave BUT the logistics of selling up, disposing of possessions not able to be taken out of the country, then packing up and moving on, are proving to be too much for most of them. As well, financial considerations are impacting on their decision to go if they can. The process of selling a property in Malaysia can be daunting, and post-Covid offers are not as generous as they were when some perhaps wiser friends saw the light in 2018 and 2019 and left the country. They were able to negotiate better prices for their houses and apartments, altho' most have told me, they lost on average US$50,000 on the deal. But they wanted out, and they paid the price.

Sad indeed, but in this strange world we now live in, it seems to be the way.

A few observations about Sanur now.

We have been back for about one week. Our first impression on returning (for me this is a second visit in the last six months, so we are both not entirely "virginal" expats new to the Bali scene) so far has been, is Sanur still the place for us. Many aspects of living here continue to appeal and attract, but on the whole, we tend to the "gut feeling" that Bali or perhaps more so Sanur, is no longer the place for us. Too much has changed. The tourists are returning - our driver from the airport told us he was informed that 14,000-16,000 new arrivals are turning up every day, which has meant overcrowding in the tourist areas and fierce competition for the Balinese for tourist services, notably driving which is now regarded as a small gold mine. Certainly our driver (we've used the same local man since I more or less settled here in 2014) has done well out of us so far, Rp250,000 from Sanur to the tourist ghettos Kuta-Legian-Seminyak, Rp12,000 to Denpasar (the usual price is Rp15,000-18,000 but we do this trip every second day, so Komang kindly gives us a discount), up to Rp1 million (US$70) for a day rate for a car and driver tho' again, our driver is much kinder and often heavily discounts when he has no other business.

Food costs (this in Sanur) are much the same as pre-Covid but some aspects of service have changed. Menus and plate portions are smaller. Drink prices (for those who want alcohol) vary up and down, but imported wines and spirits have disappeared from the bars of many establishments. Supermarket prices are more or less holding the line but seem to be about 20% higher. Utilities cost more. Villa rentals have gone up by almost 50% but my local friends say these can be negotiated as there seem to be many thousands of unrented properties.

Chinese tourists are everywhere, also Australians who are returning at the rate of several flights every day.

The Balinese, bless them, seem to be much the same. Friendly, outgoing, and still in most cases, as we used to say about the Thais in the '70s and '80s, the best friends money can buy. Everywhere we have been we were greeted like old friends or even returning family. It was good to see familiar faces and to be remembered, the Balinese quite excel at this.

Flights in and out of Indonesia are also more expensive, but oddly, we flew out of Melbourne on Jetstar for AUD$200 less than we paid in 2019 and 2020. The flight was full and Jetstar managed to leave two hours behind schedule due to a variety of reasons told to us by staff, none of which really sounded like the real situation. (It seems Jetstar switched planes at the last minute to a smaller jet which had no Business Class, which severely annoyed a dozen passengers who had paid the BS surcharge.) Late arrival in Bali meant some delays at the airport due to reduced immigration and customs staff, but there were no hassles. We paid Rp500,000 each for our 30 day renewable tourist visas (we will be renewing in Surabaya, where it's apparently cheaper). Out of the airport the drivers were all demanding ridiculous fares from the suckers (who mostly seemed to be coughing up the cash, perhaps not knowing any better) but we had Komang waiting for us and were spared all that.

In the summing up, what? So far our thoughts are running to how to short-cut the ridiculous new visa regulations, as we are not rich and haven't the huge amount of money now required as a so-called "security deposit" to be able to stay here long term. I am well aware that other Southeast Asian countries (notably Malaysia and Thailand) now have the same high deposit requirements for expats. We have thought about the Philippines, for purely personal reasons (so I won't go into those) the Filipino culture doesn't really appeal to us. So Indonesia is still the contender for us.

We have now decided to look at other destinations, possibly in East Java where we have long-standing friends. Costs are lower but services are less Western than Bali.

Another week to go in Sanur, then we will be off to Surabaya. If anyone here is interested in longer term residency in Indonesia, I will be happy to report my observations at that later time.

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Old Jan 28th 2023, 1:34 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Hello from me again. Am I the only BE member in Bali this year? It feels that way.

Anyway, a new update on our wanderings in Indonesia

We are now in Surabaya. Just arrived, staying for a few days with Indonesian friends in their lovely (circa 1916) and lovingly restored Dutch colonial bungalow with a separate "granny flat" (for us oldies), resident cats, good food and cold beer, even an established garden with no less than six Australian eucalyptus trees, beautifully matured and casting most welcome shade on our small digs, plus a small frog with the loudest frogs I've had the pleasure to listen to in the evenings and at night. Where and how they survive the dry season, well...

I was in Surabaya for some years, so it's like a second home to me. Unlike Bali which, now overcommercialised, overcrowded (mobs of seemingly crazed Chinese racing around everywhere, many coughing their lungs out but one hopes, not spreading Covid germs), armies of tour buses spewing blue diesel fumes in the streets, all the popular bars, cafes and restaurants overpriced A few days there and some serious conversations with friends (expats and Indonesians) and we opted to ileave early and look further afield for a new hidey-hole location elsewhere for me.

Sanur post-Covid is in some ways unchanged, in other ways markedly different. My fave hangout, the Batujimbar is being "redeveloped" which in Indonesian terms could mean a new avatar for this beloved old establishment, a mini-mall of shops peddling gewgaws and tours, or yet another villas-with-pool development modified for cashed-up Asian buyers as Western expats look to be rather thin on the ground in Bali this year (I write this with caution as of course this may change as '23 moves on).

I did read somewhere that from about 60,000 expats living in Bali pre-Covid, there are now "about 6,000 permanent residents" and many are greatly concerned at the economic impact on them of the new Indonesian visa regulations. Not sure where these stats came from or how they were determined, so again I write with a degree of "maybe". Certainly apart from the obvious Aussie tourists in the bars from mid morning and Dutch families in the hotel pools or walking everywhere, Sanur looks thinly populated with tourists, overlooking the shopping places popular with bus tours. The beach was deserted during the one walk (= trek) I had the time to do, from the area of the Le Mayeur Museum in north Sanur down to the end of the boardwalk, some 5 kilometers. Domestic tourists, yes. Locals aplenty. A few foreigners. That was it.

I have to say our decision to travel on to Jatim (= East Java) was to meet up with friends from Europe who will arrive on Sunday, by train from Yogyakarta and Solo. They are keen to travel with us (by car and driver, amazingly inexpensive in Surabaya or even in Bali if one has the right contacts there) and see the less visited country areas, the small and sleepy country towns, the lesser known Hindu and Buddhist temples, the old city of Majapahit, and the rice fields in the south which are terraced and irrigated differently from Bali and, I'm told, produce different varieties of rice.

I'm keen to meet these friends again, show them around, and collect their impressions of being in Central Java, in two cities, one heavily into tourism, the other quiet, more cultural, far less crowded. Solo appeals to me as my next hidey-hole, at my age I crave peace, quiet, fresh air, time to read and write and take long walks to see and photograph new sites, an occasional glass Bintang or Heineken with ice cubes (boiled water so entirely safe) and a twist of lime at a roadside stall or a small cafe, and the good basic services I want in my retirement years, all no more than a casual walk from my home. Food in Solo is traditionally more Javanese and super good, unlike Yogya where tourists end up dining in the major hotels or hanging out at McD's or KFC for their sustenance.

So yes, Yogya and Solo are possibilities. As are several places in Java where all the small luxuries this old buleh has a need for can be obtained. Solo has the advantages of being more centrally situated, easier to get to Jakarta or Bali, and low cost of living, even if it's rather too quiet for younger visitors and visibly traditional Islamic. Yogyakarta has tourists, meh! food, all the usual (to me overpriced and overrated) attractions and shopping, pesky locals who try to haul you off to the latest "art exhibition" of junk paintings, and Japlan Malioboro where everyone eventually ends up, if only to dine in Western luxe at McD's. In a nutshell, for me that's it. The road to Solo and other points eastward, greatly appeals.

The adventure goes on. SO will stay two weeks more and in mid-February fly Denpasar-Melbourne, so a second visit to Bali is on the cards.

Then what? Left on my own and well beyond the usual mass tourist attractions of wine/women/song, I rather fancy returning to Java by bus (Denpasar to Gilimanuk in Bali), a ferry to Java (one hour and a delightful break from road travel), then by train to Surabaya (five hours, comfortable, cheap). A full day of travel, but with pleasant scenery to look at and take candid photos, and I hope pleasant talk with Indonesians. Win-win. Slow living is the best life...
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Old Jan 28th 2023, 5:10 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

I've a question please.

What about health services if needed?

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Old Jan 28th 2023, 11:18 pm
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Health services are there if needed, at a price of course. The general situation with better medical clinics, hospitals, access to more specialized care such as pathology, services for the aged, even renal facilities, as well as greatly updated pharmacies with a vastly improved range of medications. Nothing like we take for granted in the western countries like Australia, if much better than during the dismal crisis of 20 years ago when the Bali bombings destroyed so many lives. I lost several friends and acquaintances at that sad time because urgent care was not available in Denpasar or the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak tourist strip. All this has changed much for the better now. There is a modern hospital on the Sanur bypass road, not far from Kuta, and GPs/clinics are well aware and prepared to send urgent cases there for immediate treatment. So one can get by.

At my age, I now think seriously about what I would do in places like East Java if I came down with a sudden urgent condition. Gone are those heady days of the past when I had dreams (or maybe illusions?) of renting a small lot in a country place and building my dream bamboo and thatch house overlooking the rice fields or with a Mountain view. This never happened and I'm now 75 and at the stage where my life's early fantasies are dropping quickly from my eyes. As well my SO is still employed (fortunately for me, as a specialist in aged care in Australia) and intends to work for a few more years to early retirement, which means I would be more or less on my own - overlooking a handyman-driver and maybe a day housekeeper, who being country folk wouldn't be able to do much to help me beyond calling in someone to assist me to the nearest hospital if I had a fall or came down with a serious condition like a stroke. All this to say that my long-imagined life of ease by the rice terraces of East Java, sitting in my pendopo with a glass of good strong Java coffee and watching a local farmer plough his fields with a pair of water buffalos, is now well beyond me. So be it. I enjoyed the fantasy while it lasted, but I realize it was just that, a cherished fantasy. (Altho' to me the realities of living here remain as pleasant as ever, or am I fantasizing yet again?)

My overall health is 8.5/10 which my GP tells me is much better than the average for my age, and I'm still reasonably fit and quite active, but I have to face the obvious that I'm no longer 50 or even 60 and I will never even see 70 again. Time passes so quickly and takes its toll.

Bali does have some added advantages over most cities in Java. Air pollution levels are much lower. Food is fresher, tho' fresh produce comes daily from the agricultural areas of Trees and Bromo. My diet is mostly plant-based now and I seem to be eating more like a vegan-vegetarian than a carnivore ('tho the term "vegan" is one I would never, ever admit to). I avoid most meat and stay well away from any fish I suspect was caught in the Java Sea or anywhere from Madura island with the high human waste pollution levels from the cities of Java) but fresh fish from the much cleaner southern Indonesian Ocean is widely available and those two delectable proteins, tempeh and tofu, can be bought everywhere. My friends live in an inner city suburb with access a few minutes away to several very clean depots (a small explanation here - in Indonesia a "warring" is a food stall on the street or in a laneway or most often in a small food court, many of which are provided and maintained by the municipality) with spotless kitchens and an amazing variety of good food. One has a superb all-day buffet with a good range of vegetable dishes and well-prepared protein dishes and we eat good lunches every day for less than A$2 a person, far cheaper than I've found almost everywhere in Bali. One can't get much better than that.

I do apologize for having digressed a bit from the original health services question. SO and I have made a health plan for me to cope with any illnesses I could come down with while here on my own - as I may have written before my plan is to stay 2-3 months in Indonesia and then return to Melbourne for a month or two months of the good Australian life and, more importantly, consultations with my GP, then back to Indonesia for more leisurely living. We have worked out this plan for me over the 26 years we've been together and so far (touch wood!) it works well for us. If my good health continues I hope to have more years of enjoying it.

I hope this answers your question. If you would like information on more specific health issues and services in Indonesia, please ask, and I will try to make enquiries to my friends here in Surabaya and and Bali (including two GPs and one specialist medical academic). It's good to have such friends here and they are always happy to help with advice and recommendations. In this I'm so very lucky!
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Old Yesterday, 1:45 am
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Default Re: What is happening in Bali (especially in Sanur)?

Here I am again, continuing my one-man show from Indonesia...

Back in Surabaya now, after a three day tour of the regional centers of Jatim (= East Java).

In all, an interesting experience. Some larger towns and even smaller cities (Tulungagung, Trengallek) look unchanged from my previous visit some 20 years ago. Others (Blitar, Kediri, Madiun) have moved ahead in great leaps, mostly to do with manufacturing and technology. Interesting that transport (notably rail), essential utilities (all government owned and some price controlled), internet and telecomm services in Indonesia are light years ahead of Australia's - which made us wonder at times which of the two is now more a Third World society...

Anyway, here we are again in Surabaya, back in our comfortable small apartment in an old colonial home (circa 1916) owned by the family of our Indonesian friends. Wondering what our next move will be. To Solo (a place I always enjoy, with more than enough to see and do to make me want to stay longer) and Yogyakarta (about which I have mixed feelings, mostly good and rotten, too many tourists, annoying locals out to make a fast buck in any way they can, poor facilities, lousy food and shopping, the two major attractions of Borobudur and Prambanan not far away but now asking so much in admissions (foreigners arriving at Borobudur are now asked to pay in US$ to get in and a further hefty fee to climb the temple and touch the celebrated Buddha at the top) and "other" fees as to make budget-minded visitors think twice about spending so much money. Grab The Cash looks to be the new way of dealing with tourism in Indonesia, but we are well aware that this isn't exclusive to this country and others in SE Asia are following similar income-generating paths.

Or back to Bali? This is tempting. Another friend has a travel service and offered a return trip (five hours an excellent highways to Banyuwangi, an hour crossing the Java-Bali strait by ferry, then four more hour on a good road to Denpasar and Kuta) in air-conditioned comfort and entirely on our own in a pleasant minibus (this agency's services are mostly to do with transporting and delivering confidential documents to destinations in Bali for private businesses, including banks and financial agencies - their passenger travel is a sideline) with one or two stops as we like along the way to see pleasant attractions, plus the prospect of leaving in the morning enjoying a nice lunch on the way and being in our hotel in Sanur in time for a drink and to enjoy the sunset.

Bali is more expensive than Java but it offers the colorful Hindu culture with its myriad ceremonies and traditions. We are still of two minds about my settling again (I was here for some time pre-Covid) in Indonesia. I crave quiet periods and space for my creative outlets but also the advantages Bali offers and the ease of flying to and from home in Australia. I can do this almost as easily from Surabaya (daily flights go from Juanda airport there via Bali and also to Singapore, Malaysia and other Asian destinations, less so from Solo - and for me, alas, Yogya is not on my radar as I just do not enjoy the place.

Surabaya still appeals, if more so for its proximity to other more pleasant places in Java (and not too far from Bali, whether by road or rail or air) and the availability of services, reasonable shopping and surprisingly good food (something it was not particularly noted for even in the recent past). The fast food industry here is alive and well, even more so than in Bali. Costs are low. New toll highways make travel to almost anywhere quite easy, even if escaping the city center can often be a small nightmare of traffic congestion and confusing roads. A few shopping malls keep SO's consumer urges satisfied even if the store prices for better quality items are now quite close to those in Australia). And there is enough of the "old" city left for me to enjoy daily walks with my cameras and satisfy my urge to record some of the passing life, a lot of it much as it was a quarter century ago or even longer.

Sadly a return to Australia after Bali is now looming on the cards. ​​​​​​I will probably extend my stay by up to one month with a brief escape to Malaysia for a new Indonesian tourist visa, but I too will be home again in the not too distant future. Without (at least at this point in time) having made any firm decision about whether or not to go on staying in Bali medium-term (long-term now seems more remote to media to high costs and the complex tourist visa situation.

​So at this time for me, it's all rather a conundrum...
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