Bali event & wedding planner shares her island life for the last 25 years
Originally from: Australia
Arrived in Bali: 1992
What made you MOVE TO Bali and how long do you plan to stay?
Well, I’ve been here for quite a while. My dad’s Indonesian, from Jakarta actually, so I was born in Australia but our family relocated to Jakarta in 1990, then Bali in 1992 due to my dad’s work.
I did my secondary schooling abroad, returning every school break, then did my university degrees abroad as well, again returning between semesters.
Once I had completed all that I stayed permanently in Bali. Not sure how long I’ll stay, it’s always been home, so even if I leave, it’ll always be my base.
Where is Home in Bali and Why did you decide to live there?
Home is in Sanur. That’s where the family home is. However due to my work, I relocated to Canggu as it was much more time efficient and convenient to meet with my clients there because that’s where the majority would stay.
I love the pace and lifestyle of Sanur, but Canggu does have it’s perks.
During the pandemic though, I’ve relocated back to Sanur until things pick up again.
what is it like living in bali during covid and how do you see the next 12 months?
Living in Bali during COVID was interesting. Everyone will have a different opinion or perspective on this.
For the local population, particularly in tourist dependent areas such as Kuta and Legian, you could see the economic devastation quite apparently with shops closing down, no cars or bikes on the roads, and a general feeling of dismay.
For me personally however, I enjoyed the quiet change. It reminded me of my childhood growing up here before the huge influx of new residents. There was no traffic, Bali was looking greener and cleaner, and – quite selfishly – I loved being able to just rock up anywhere without a reservation. I don’t really like making plans in advance so I loved the sporadic lifestyle it’s allowed.
On the work front, it’s been super difficult. My business relies entirely on international arrivals so I’ve had to put my business on a long pause which I’ve hated and it’s affected the livelihoods of all my staff and colleagues as a direct result. That makes me sad.
The next 12 months? I see it going back to normal in the sense that Bali will pick up and be back to it’s busy chaos again. Already in the past few weeks I’ve noticed a huge change in traffic and restaurants and bars are now requiring bookings again. Largely due to domestic tourism but with the visa’s allowing tourism again, it’s only a matter of time before we see international tourism again. Quite a few of my clients are already making travel plans here in the next month.
You have an awesome business ‘Plan A’ – Bali Event Planners, please share how it started and more about running a business in Bali.
It started about 9-10 years ago. I had so many friends from overseas, in particular from Australia, who considered Bali their second home and would visit frequently. They knew their way around but when it came to wanting to host their own parties or events they didn’t know where to start, especially those who were getting married here and wanted to do a pre or post wedding party. I’d help source bartenders or entertainment or catering, and then thought hmm there must be a gap in the market here so that’s when I started Plan A. Initially I only did birthdays, bachelor/bachelorette parties, that kind of thing. I didn’t touch weddings because I felt that market was already saturated.
We were booked solid in the first year of operation, but repeatedly receieved emails wanting us to do weddings. I declined them all and would point them in the direction of other planners, I just didn’t want to be involved – it’s a lot of pressure to look after a couple’s special day that they’ll remember forever! However, we had one couple who said they wouldn’t take no for an answer and would hold off their wedding until I agreed. What could I do? So I said okay, did it and loved it so much! Never looked back. We’ve been doing weddings ever since and I love every second of it. We still offer the other services but wedding planning is our main service now.
Running a business in Bali can be tricky though, for several reasons.
Firstly, everyone is on island time. It’s a great thing when you’re here on holiday, but when you’re working toward deadlines, many businesses don’t really have a sense of urgency haha! It can be frustrating for the client on the other side when they’re used to having answers for things within a 48 hour time frame, but here I always have to warn them it can take a week or two with some businesses because tomorrow could mean in three days time, next week or anything. So I’ve had to become annoying and follow up allll the time. Here we have a phrase “Jam Karet” which literally translates to “elastic time”. I think succinctly describes the mentality here when it comes to punctuality.
Secondly, you have to remember that the Rupiah isn’t a strong currency, and everything you charge if you’re an Indonesian registered company like we are has to be charged in local currency. If you decide to holiday overseas, you have to save your money for a lot longer than if you were earning in dollars, euros or pounds because the Rupiah gets slashed when you convert it.
Luckily living costs here are low too, so if you’re planning on just living and enjoying a simple life here, it’s more than fine.
I can see you are an animal lover, please share more about your gorgeous dog Cora.
I love animals (except sea cucumbers, I have a serious phobia), and I’m OBSESSED with Cora. I actually think we have quite an unhealthy codependent relationship if I’m totally honest but she’s my absolute world.
I found her in a cage down a street in Denpasar 8 years ago. I wasn’t even wanting a dog to be honest, but she chose me. I kept walking away from her and she’d bark at me and try to run to get me but would hit her face on the cage and fall back every time. It made me laugh and I thought wow she’s a bit of a nutter like me, maybe we should hang out. Ever since then she’s been by my side and she sleeps in my bed. She goes swimming in the ocean with me and I don’t think I could have gotten through the last 18 months without her.
I believe you are a foodie and Bali is Food Heaven, what are your favourite places and meals?
Yes I am definitely a foodie! I love cooking, love dining out and trying new things. I am thinking of lunch when I eat breakfast, and thinking of dinner while I eat lunch. Reading a menu before I get to a restaurant is one of my favourite things.
I have a few favourite places.
Revolver Canggu has a great vibe, day or night (amazing espresso martinis!) and is somewhere I pop into frequently.
If you’re a croissant fiend like me, you can’t go past Butterman. Best one’s outside Paris.
You are a real travel addict and there is so much to explore close by to Bali, what are your favourite trips so far?
I do love travel, and pre pandemic, I’d travel either domestically or internationally every couple of months. As much as Bali is incredible, you do find you need a break from it in order to continue loving it.
I frequently head to Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Ceningan. They’re so close and easily accessible, it’s a great break from the hustle and bustle of Bali. Nusa Penida is also a great.
I love Lombok, but my favourite getaway in Indonesia that I’ve done in the past few years was a trip to Rote. It’s the land that time forgot. I absolutely adore it there. Animals running all over the place, STUNNING sunsets, and clear water for days. I can’t wait to go back.
What do you find are the challenges living in Bali?
I don’t feel there are that many challenges living here anymore.
Previously there were grocery or daily items you couldn’t get here so would need someone to send it over for you, but now you can get nearly everything.
Restaurants, hairdressers, doctors, dentists…they’re all international standard now.
Nearly every single local you meet speaks English as well which is helpful for people who move or visit here. A shame in one sense as it doesn’t encourage many to speak Bahasa Indonesia, but it is what it is.
Traffic drives me crazy though. The infrastructure here just wasn’t built to support the number of tourists we get each year (bar covid times), and it can literally take hours to get places some nights. Makes it hard when you have to schedule your week because anywhere else you can fit up to 5 meetings a day, but with traffic and travel restrictions due to the amount of cars and bikes on the road, I count myself lucky if I can do 3!
I think the fact that Bali’s economy depends so much on tourism too can be challenging as we’ve seen during the pandemic. For residents here, it’s hard to forecast your finances too far in advance because the numbers are never set or predictable.
What tips and advice do you have for others who wish to live in Bali for a while?
Don’t move straight away. Having a holiday here is VERY different to living here.
If you’re used to coming to Bali and eating out for every meal and trying a different beach club every day, you may want to re think your move.
I always say you can tell who lives here and who holidays here because the ones who live here don’t have a Bali tan! That’s not to say you can’t enjoy an idyllic lifestyle, but you still need to work, and for most, it’s still a 5 day work week. Salaries here are a lot less than in the west so you need to budget for that.
If you’re coming to start a business, then spend some time in your competitors’ businesses and assess if
1. Your business is really needed and 2. If it is, what will be the point of difference?
Bali is wonderful for families. The Indonesian people love children, and it’s such a magical place to grow up. I can say from first hand experience. Your children will have such a better education for living in a culture that isn’t their own, and it’s an education that no school could give you.
Biggest piece of advice though, is if you do decide to take the plunge, get your affairs in order, go through a trustworthy agent for your paperwork, and do things by the book. It may be a little pricier in the beginning but it’ll save you headaches down the track.
Most of all, enjoy. Things in Bali don’t always go to plan. Everything takes twice as long as normal and sometimes you feel claustrophobic. But in those times, just remember to look around, and remember, you’re literally living in Paradise. Amazing food, incredible places to visit, and you’ll make life long friends from all around the world.
Thank you so much Tash for sharing your Bali life with us and your tips and advice. Click here to follow Tash’s Bali Event Planning business – Plan A.
If you live in Bali and would like to join our interview collection feel free to reach out to me anytime.
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