Brazell auf Bali

1) September: The first weeks on Bali

It’s strange to think I’ve been living here for three months already. Bali has swallowed me up so quickly that Germany seems a long time ago, and being in Bali doesn’t feel odd or wonderful at all, but very normal. September was a busy month, cos I had to get my visa and scholarship papers settled, find long-term accommodation, a language course, and get to know Denpasar. When I first arrived I stayed in an airbnb: My hostess Lili was a lovely Javanese woman with excellent English (she worked in Manchester at some point and met her fiancé there), two adorable cats and a beautiful small place in Sanur Kauh, near the Southeast coast of Bali, around 15mins’ drive from Denpasar city. The room was very nice – quite different from the (very basic) place I’m living at now.
So was the terrace, where I spent a lot of time with a cup of coffee, my Indonesian homework and two lazy cats. I’ll try to restrict myself to 2 photos per cat… 😀
I think if I hadn’t stayed at Lili’s place, I’d have been really lonely during the first month here. Classes at ISI hadn’t started yet, and I didn’t actually know anybody in Denpasar. Lili gave me lots of advice and we went out for dinner at the markets (pasar) a couple of times. This was at Pasar Sindhu:
In Denpasar and immediate environs it’s actually hard to find any green spots; it’s as crowded and dirty and loud and busy as you’d expect a big city in Asia to be. You do find some rice terraces if you look closely, but it’s not the picturesque kind like up in Ubud. Still nice though – this was between Lili’s place and the coast:
Sanur beach itself is busy and touristy, full of elderly Europeans, German tourists and potential sugardaddies. Further south and north however there are some more quiet bays, visited more by locals than by tourists. Since I didn’t dare ride a motorbike in my first month, I didn’t actually go to the beach often at all. This is from a walk from Pantai Mertasari (Mertasari Beach) up to Sanur:
These are the traditional fishing boats, and they’re everywhere along the east coast. Fishermen said the boats have those weird wings just for balance – necessary because the boats themselves are very narrow and long for speed, and likely to be blown over if the sea is rough.
Western-style food is super expensive compared to Indonesian food outside the tourist areas. The big advantages of the tourist food places: wifi, safe ice cubes (made from drinking water), comfortable chairs and AC inside. You don’t usually get that in the normal Indonesian places in Denpasar city…
I enrolled in a language course at a school in Southwest Denpasar (IALF). It’s very expensive, but good. Most language schools here are cheaper than IALF, but don’t actually have any kind of plan in terms of lesson content. IALF does, so I did get some basic knowledge of bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language).
Bahasa Indonesia is the official language for all of Indonesia, and it’s used in official situations, at school and among Indonesians from different parts of Indonesia. It goes back to Melayu (Malay), which used to be just one of the many dialects spoken in Indonesia, and belongs to the Austronesian languages.  This language family includes for example Polynesian languages like Hawaiian and Maori and Indonesian languages (also Tagalog which is spoken on the Philippines). In other words, Bahasa Indonesia is not related to any language I know 😀 Apparently after the reunification the government was looking for a dialect that could be made into the national language. It couldn’t be any of the languages of dominant ethnic groups (e.g. Javanese) because that would create tensions. Also it needed to be basic enough for everyone to learn. Looking back it seems like Melayu was a good choice – most people do speak it throughout Indonesia and have a pretty neutral attitude towards it. At some point I’d like to learn some basic Balinese too, cos the Balinese really LOVE to speak their own language, and love for foreigners to try! Also most of the musical terms used are obviously gonna be Balinese. I can’t really to continue going to IALF for lessons though, it’s too pricey; so my Indonesian hasn’t progressed so much since September.