There is a very real transformation that takes place in the life of anyone who settles in Bali. This fascinating phenomenon will creep into the behaviors of new colonists, changing the way they look, they think, they sound and they act. What makes this metamorphosis most interesting is that it will happen at different times for different individuals. It might take three months for some and a year or more for others, which can make it tricky to identify if or when it’s happened to you.
Herein we have collaborated the go-to guide, a checklist of behaviours to recognize if you have taken on the form of the distinctive and captivating creature, known as the Bali Expat.
You know you are a Bali Expat when..
1. Suddenly you hate Kuta, Legian and Seminyak, because they are crawling with the dreaded “tourists”. Semin-Yuck.
2. When you are glad that sensationalized Bali documentaries air overseas and deter tourists from visiting – less Bogans for you to avoid.
3. You can no longer wear close-toed shoes, because you get blisters – it’s been THAT long.
4. It is 28 degrees, and you are cold.
5. The Bali Expats Facebook group becomes your go-to for news & current Affairs. You hear rumors of a surfer going missing, or a plane being hijacked by a drunken passenger, and you log onto the page to see what the general consensus is, and then watch it all unfold as updates come pouring in real-time.
6. You have a running IOU tab at the local warung.
7. You take your bike to the local warung, which is about 10 meters from your front door.
8. You ride your motorbike, whilst smoking, texting and singing – all at once.
9. The tires of your motorbike rarely touch the gravel, favoring the footpath.
10. You scoot down skinny random gangs, impressing even locals with your shortcuts between Seminyak and Canggu.
11. You are cut off by a motorbike and you swear out loud in Bahasa. Asu!
12. You are just “fostering” this kitten until you can find it a home, fast forward 6 months and suddenly you have 3 cats and 4 dogs.
Those Bali dogs have a way of working themselves into your heart.
13. Every day is a Friday, and you no longer mind Mondays.
14. You honestly have no real idea what day it is.
15. You can remove your rings and watches, and your sandals – and your tan line is so distinct that it still looks like they are there.
Flip flops for every occasion.
16. You don’t mind being given candy in place of correct change, in fact you request your favorites.
17. You haven’t owned an alarm clock for years.
18. Half of your day is spent trying to find a stable internet connection.
19. It suddenly becomes completely acceptable to go to the minimart in your pajamas.
20. You no longer take offense to being told you look “white” and “fat”, rather it has become something of a compliment.
21. You know to keep a sarong in the car to wrap over your legs in case of a police road block.
22. You keep two wallets on you. One, being the “fake” with Rp 20,000 in case of being pulled over by police, and the “real” you keep hidden in the storage compartment under the seat of your motorbike.
Honestly officer, I just have Rp 20 ribu in my wallet…
23. You accelerate past a policeman trying to flag you down, you just didn’t hear his whistle through your helmet.
24. Rice farmer hats have somehow made it into your wardrobe.
25. You suddenly think that a lace kebaya makes a really nice going out cardigan.
26. You have a rehearsed answer to the question “so what do you do for a living?”
27. It becomes totally acceptable to dine at a silver service restaurant in a tank top, shorts and flip flops.
28. You can’t live without the toilet hose.
29. You can no longer find a Bintang tank that fits you.
30. You fly into your hometown and cry at the price of water at the airport.
Where’s my AdeS and Aqua?
31. You return home to visit family, grab your plate at dinner and start eating from the floor, with your fingers.
32. You spend a trip home whining about what you could have bought for that price in Bali.
33. You return home to visit family and your winter wardrobe doesn’t fit like it used to, so you drape yourself in the 5 sarongs you packed instead.
34. You’ve never been a smoker, yet can’t travel home without a carton of Sampoernas or some other sweet kretek pack.
35. You are in your home country, asking to buy phone “pulsa” and say “makasih” as you leave.
36. You no longer wonder why your pacar keeps asking if you have showered or eaten – in fact, now you ask him first.
37. You know to only ever eat, shake, give and receive money with your right hand, and need no explanations why 😉
If you have identified yourself in at least 10 of these traits, there is a good chance you are one of us. Fear not, it is a beautiful place to settle, and a very liberating way to live. You will in fact find it very hard to leave.
The return home will become a “holiday”, the lifestyle there will suddenly feel very rushed and regimented, and your friends and family will embrace your newfound barefooted-ness as some sort of Bali breed of “Bohemian”. You will realize that you desperately miss Bali, with its clumsy, tardy and entirely relaxed ways and make every effort to get on the next plane taking you to the magical destination that accidentally became HOME.
Selamat datang kembali x
A big terima kasih to members of the Bali Expats Facebook group who helped lend their experience in the making of this article.
Photos: Julianne Greco
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