Expat tales: On a Bali high

INA BAJAJ
Last updated 05:15 30/03/2014
Ina Bajaj
EXPAT: Ina Bajaj.
East Residence resort
TIME TO CHILL: The East Residence resort in Canggu, Bali.

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Why did you move to the city? Initially for work. I first started coming to Bali in 2004 in order to recruit staff for my Wellington spa.

What do you do there? I own a luxury villa eastresidence.com. We also recruit a lot of staff for both our brands East Day Spa and Spring Spa, a task which I am actively involved in. Last July, I took on a site in the upmarket enclave of Petitenget which will house Asia's first Spring Spa which is due to open this May.

What do you like/dislike about it? I love the beauty and culture of Bali. I also like the fact that there isn't an abundance of the PC police around, which is liberating. I don't like the humidity, sometimes it can be suffocating and am equally not keen on some of the reptiles.

How does the cost of living compare to New Zealand? Rentals are very cheap here, as is food and petrol. The cost of domestic help is infinitely cheaper. My day to day spending is more than half of what it is in Auckland.

What do you do on weekends? There's always something happening in Bali. Last weekend I went to Mozaic Beach Club as Earth Wind and Fire were performing there. As the weather is hot, weekends are usually spent lazing around by the pool and catching up with friends. People entertain at home a lot more here due to domestic assistance being readily available.

What do you think of the food/what's your favourite thing to eat there? Bali is an epicurean's paradise. I've just found a local guy who brings his car every day at 5pm, parks it next to Deus ex Machina and does the best pork satay. My favourite thing to eat in Bali is the Bakso made by my lovely cook Made.

What's the best way to get around the city? People tend to use motor bikes in order to combat Bali's traffic issues, personally I don't favour the statistics on these. I have just purchased a car and have been driving it around my hood in order to get used to the narrow roads. Traffic is slow and the roads and lack of road rules, challenging but generally drivers are polite and you will never experience road rage.

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What's the shopping like? Not the best. There's no Zambesi!!

What's the nightlife like? Great, for all ages. You can club, you can dance, there's something for everyone. Having just entered my 50s I find New Zealand a little bit a limited with regards to the nightlife scene. Over here, 70-year-olds can kick up their heels comfortably in any of the local venues, it's a non-ageist society.

What is your favourite part of the city? My home, I live in tranquility with one side overlooking a rainforest and waterfall, and the other a verdant rice field. It never fails to take my breath away.

What time of year is best to visit and why? For the weather, June-September. For avoiding crowds and chaotic traffic, Feb-April.

What's your must-do thing for visitors? A sundowner at either Ku de Ta, Potato Head or Mozaic, it gives you the warm fuzzies about life.

What are your top tips for tourists? Don't judge Bali by Kuta or Nusa Dua. Move out of hotel comforts, rent a villa and live life like a local.

How easy is it for you to get back to New Zealand? It's a drag as most of the year you have to fly a second tier airline via Australia. Unfortunately, Air New Zealand dropped its flights to only a few months a year, as this direct routing is fantastic.

If you know an expat who wants to share the inside knowledge on their home away from home, email escape@star-times.co.nz with Expat in the subject line.

- Sunday Star Times

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