I arrived in Bali from London, on the 3rd January 2009, armed only with three suitcases and two small children.
My two girls were aged 6 & 7, we had school places booked and enough money for a year off work.
Many of my friends thought I was very brave…
… but bravery was not a word that had entered my head.
I had to resign from my media job, pack up and rent out my house, research schools and locations in Bali and try to explain to a 6-year-old what living in the tropics was going to be like.
I had read about the terrible Bali bombings, but after having lived in London during the IRA campaign, I was not going to let this be a reason not to go, my philosophy was if we didn’t like it we could just go home.
However, going home again didn’t happen.
Through my daughter’s school I made instant friends. Living on the beach meant there was lots of after school socialising, kids could play together safely without any thought of anyone snatching them. Sanur, with its coral lagoon beach, meant they could run and play safely. Cheap warung’s (local restaurants) on the beach meant easy meals for the mum’s.
Within ten days, I had rented a home and I found myself riding a motorbike. This was something I certainly didn’t expect! One daughter on the front and one on the back, full face helmets and a self-imposed speed limit of 20kms per hour. We pootled around unharmed like this until they were too big to fit anymore.
After twelve months in Bali, I realised that I wouldn’t be going back to live in London. I considered investing in a holiday rental Villa. I found the gorgeous development called Kejora, a complex of 16 Villas in a prime beachfront location in Sanur. We tweaked the plans, agreed the price and a year later in May 2011, I opened Sixteen Kejora to my first guests.
It was during chatting to my guests when they began telling me of the risks they had heard about coming to Bali.
The warnings on government websites did not reflect what regular visitors or expats experienced. Yes, the bombings in 2002 and 2005 were horrendous but the Indonesian government, police, hotels and Banjars (local communities) were doing everything to prevent those atrocities from ever happening again.
Money changers, with sleight of hand, in short changing you, the odd bag theft, Bali belly, rabid dogs, cats & monkeys, drinking homemade alcohol or a drunken motorbike accident were other risks.
These risks are not unique to Bali.
We also see the news reports about the high-profile drug busts, where the penalties are severe, but it’s highly unlikely that holiday makers are going to get caught up in drug smuggling.
Sensible precautions and common sense can easily overcome these risks.
- check your money when you leave the money changer
- don’t leave your bag unattended or in the front of your bicycle basket
- stay away from stray animals
- have the recommended vaccines
- don’t drive drunk
- don’t drink cheap alcohol
- look for hygienic restaurant kitchens
- lock your money and passports in a safe in your room
- have good travel insurance
The worst that has happened to my girls and I in over eight years of living in Bali was an injured leg for my youngest daughter. We arrived in the clinic and were in with the doctor within no time, she had lovely neat stitches.
The beauty of the Island and the gentleness, kindness and good nature of the people are what makes Bali such a special place.
Life is full of risks and adventures and from my experience Bali is by far paradise than peril.