“Good times, bad times, you know I’ve had my share…“
– Led Zeppelin
Bali is a place many people think of as paradise and rightfully so with its sandy beaches, lush foliage, beautiful green rice terraces, massive volcanoes and spiritual vibes. It really is an amazing place that draws people from all over the globe. However when staying here long-term you unfortunately bear witness to some very sad accidents. Although our experience in Bali has been amazing thus far, we experienced some tough times recently. Here’s our story of the bad but also the good that resulted from it.
When Sasha arrived in September he set out looking for more long-term accommodation so we could settle in and not have to be living such a nomadic lifestyle. However, as we found out, in Bali you’re hard-pressed to find a landlord that will let you pay month-to-month or even sign a half-year agreement. Instead they want you to sign a year-long lease and pay for it all up front. Seeing as how we never planned on staying here for a full twelve months, this simply wasn’t going to work. Sick of dealing with landlords, he turned to Facebook and posted a ‘Room Wanted’ ad. Eventually he settled on a room in a nice villa owned by a retired Australian man. We’ll call him Bob for the sake of privacy. It was a 3-bedroom villa – Bob lived in one bedroom with his local girlfriend and a cool younger guy from Lithuania lived in the other room. Everything about it was great – the location, price, fast WiFi, it had a pool and a fully equipped kitchen. We thought we would live there for most of our time in Bali.
With Bob being retired, Sasha not having a rigorous class schedule and me not having a job, we all got to know each other fairly well in the first month we lived there. He was a very talkative man with a funny, sarcastic sense of humor and we all got along really well. His girlfriend would host dinner parties at the villa and they would invite us to dinner parties at their friend’s house. We always had a good time and it was nice to have a sense of family living so far away from ours.
One weekend Sasha and I plus our friend Andy decided to take off on a little road trip to the west side of the island. Sasha had heard about some water buffalo racing tournament called Makepung and really wanted to check it out. Since it was on the complete opposite side of the island, we decided to make it a multi-day road trip. We packed our bags, gave Bob our rent money for the next month and took off.
On the afternoon of the last day of our trip Sasha received a text from Bob’s girlfriend (whose English is less than stellar) that was a bit offsetting: “Bob is in hospital. He fall down in pon fish.” We thought it was weird.
“What?” replied Sasha.
“Bob in hospital. I am in police station.”
Why would they be at the police station? Sasha had a bad feeling about it and insisted that we get back to Sanur. We were a solid three-hour motorbike ride away, so we hightailed it back as fast as we could.
When we got back to the villa it looked like a tornado had ripped through. There was mud all over the kitchen floor, bed sheets on the floor, and their bedroom was torn apart. It didn’t look good. I had gotten an ear infection from the dive so we went to a clinic to get me some meds. While I was seeing the doctor Sasha texted the girlfriend again:
“We are back. Is everything ok? Should we go to the hospital?”
“We are in Roger house. All is ok. You can stay in villa.”
“Is Bob ok?”
“Bob passed away. He in hospital.”
“You know that means someone died. Do you mean he passed out?”
“No he died this morning.”
Sasha told me when I came out of the doctor’s office. My heart sank. “What do you mean he died!?” My mind was racing with all sorts of different scenarios.
Beside the kitchen was a fish pond that had a nice fountain. The fountain was broken so there was nothing to filter the water and keep it clean. Bob had bought a water pump meant to filter the water. The cord was too short to reach the nearest outlet so he had bought an extension cord with multiple outlets at the end and put it on the ledge right next to the water. No one really knows what actually happened because it was 7am and he was the only one awake. He had gotten in the water to clean it, as he often did. This time the extension cord somehow fell in the water, electrocuting him. They just weren’t able to get him to the hospital in time.
As you can imagine, the family decided to sell the villa so we had to get out. We had already found another place, but weren’t able to move in for another two weeks. Not wanting to pay the average nightly rate for a guest room in the meantime, we took to Facebook again. Several people wanted to help as everyone nearby had heard about the accident. But it was one amazing woman in particular who reached out. Her son was away in Australia so she said we could live in his bedroom until he came back…. for free. It was so comforting at the time. Her reasoning was simple: “We’re foreigners living in a strange country. If we don’t help each other out what are we here for?” These Gypsies are forever Grateful for being welcomed into this beautiful home after such a terrible tragedy.
This kind woman was willing to house us – complete strangers – and wanted nothing in return. It reminded me that despite all the negatives in this world, there really are good people out there. Sometimes terrible things happen, almost always unexpectedly. Life is precious and can be taken away at any moment. This experience reminded us yet again to live life to the fullest, count your blessings, and always remind the people you care about how much they mean to you. It also showed us how there are still so many genuinely kind and helpful people out there, ready to help total strangers in need.
We knew that living in Bali for a year would be an experience we’d never forget, but we never could have imagined the reason why. Bob was a great guy and we’re so happy to have known him for the short time that we did. He was like a dad to us, but also a good friend. His family had a Balinese cremation ceremony for him, and his ashes were returned to Australia. We think about him all the time and will always have fond memories of our time living with him. As for us, we’ve spent the last two months living in a 2-bedroom house out in a village, along with two dogs and two cats. It’s been nice living outside of the touristy zone for a while, experiencing a bit more of the “real” Bali if there is such a thing. Our journey in Bali is far from over, but it’s already been one that will have an impact on the rest of our lives.