Experience of renting land in Bali

After some months in Ubud, Bali, I had decided that this was the place for me.  I dreamed of cementing my passion for living here with… cement… not to mention volcanic rock and a large helping of bamboo.

I found the perfect spot.  In the centre of town and yet set well back from the main road, so it was quiet.

Lengthy negotiations consisted of sitting on the floor in an art gallery, drinking coffee and chatting with a relative of the owner of the land.  The land owner himself lives on an island some two days journey away, so discussions had to take place over the phone with a translation from Bahasa Indonesia to English.

We finally agreed on a price for the 20 year lease of the land.

The big day for signing the documentation approached and the land owner started his long journey across lands and seas to Bali.

I was so excited when we met to sign the contract.  Of course we could only communicate through fair bit of nodding and smiling (although whether we were nodding and smiling about the same thing I was never 100% sure).  However, the interpreter ensured all was well.

We went to the Notaris to sign the paperwork in the morning and by lunchtime we were at my bank.  The cashier handed over more notes than I’ve ever seen before in my life.  The largest note in Indonesia is 100,000 rupiah, around £7, and there were well over 1,000 notes – trust me – that looks like serious wad of money.

Within seconds it wasn’t my money anymore.  I handed it over and it was rapidly put into a plastic bag, which was then stuffed up into his shirt and, with a nod and a quick shake of hands, he walked out of the bank, jumped onto his motorbike and was gone.

I had a certificate of land to show for it but somehow as I stood there outside the bank watching him drive off without wearing a crash helmet and with all that money stuffed up his shirt, it felt a little unbalanced.  A huge wad of money for a single sheet of paper.

Those thoughts disappeared when I got back and surveyed my land.

When I looked at the jungle of interweaving vegetation, coconut and banana trees laced with chilli plants all waving in the breeze as if to say hello… when I counted five multi-coloured butterflies dancing as if to celebrate my good fortune… when I heard the frogs and crickets singing as if to welcome me, the balance was fully restored.

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