Learning and Living in Bali

My first month in Bali was… rather awesome to say the least! Of course, there have been some difficulties along the way. Nevertheless, no bump in the road is going to get me down now…I’m in freaking BALI, INDONESIA! I must admit I’ve not been the best blogger… ok I have been more like the worst haha. It has been hard to find the time to bog with so much going on, but I really want to share all my new experiences with my readers so I will do my best to blog more often.

As with all traveling, one must learn a few things the hard way. Thankfully, the only lesson I had to learn the hard way, as of yet, has been where to change my money. Here in Bali there is no organized exchange standard. There are larger more professional looking money-changers with lower rates of close to 8.000 R (8 thousand Rupiah), there are small stands that also change money for exchange rates as high as 9.000 R, and there are an assortment of both these exchangers that charge commission occasionally. I have not yet discovered a true pattern for commission charging…so far it seems to correlate most with when the customer is too sharp for the money-changer to scam them, in that case they decide at the last minute that they actually do charge commission. My downfall was believing in something too good to be true. Walking down the streets of Sanur on my second day in town, my new friends pointed out the highest rate they had seen in Bali (they had never exchanged there because the shop was always out of money). SWEET…thought I, WRONG-O…I was soon to discover!  He calculated out what $200 at the exchange rate would be as I proceeded to also do the calculation, it was correct. Not being familiar with Rupiah as of yet I was immediately beyond excited hearing that my money sorted out to be over 1 million 9 hundred thousand Rupiah! WHOA, I was super rich (just a side note: this amount of money is quite a lot in Indonesia when it comes to food. A typical lunch here is about 10.000 R, which equates to a little more than a dollar. Yet, in a tourist area many of the prices in Rupiah have been increased so that they are similar to what you would pay in America. In the case of alcoholic beverages the prices are often far beyond US norms). After I had counted my Rupiah twice the teller proceeded to break down one of the 50.000 R bills into the small change I needed, while his counterpart watched passively…or so I thought. I did not realized I had been shorted until an hour or so later when I went to pay for my lunch and happened to have 400.000 R less than what I expected to have. What I lost was approximately $50, seeing as I only exchanged $200 this was a considerable amount of my money. After a few days of pondering, some rather hard feelings, and watching my friends almost get ripped off before we took our business else where; I figured it out. There are two ways I have seen it go down. The first way is what happened to me; as I was watching intently the man with the small change, the second man was removing bills from the other pile which I had already counted and decided was correct. The second way was used on my friend before she asked for her money back. After you count your money several times they decide they need to count it once more and as they count it they fan the bottom of the pile out with one hand and like a magician they slide bills slowly back into their drawer with out you ever seeing it! Need-less to say I only change my money at legitimate tellers with security guard and receipts, no matter how low the rate may be. There are many things to sum up from my first 3 weeks. Most of the time I was either in lecture or working in the lab. With my free time I have gone to a wedding, been to the clubbing district Kuta, eaten more than most Balinese people eat in a year (to be fair, for the most part they are rather small people), been to temples, and seen some rather funny monkeys (no elephants yet). I am now at the end of my fourth week in Bali, and this week was the beginning of a new course and the start of some serious fieldwork FINALLY! I will post a blog of my first course and initial lab work, because I am sure it will be very interesting to many. My first course was on molecular genetics and the role it plays in unraveling the story of marine biodiversity. The lab work was all extractions, PCR, and gel running; all of which I will explain later. I wanted to catch my blog up to the current course, because now I am in my element. The course I have started this week is on sampling marine biodiversity. I get to be in the field almost everyday, I am learning awesome latin names (I know that is beyond geeky of me to say), and seeing critters I never even imagined exsited! Expect to be hearing about my first week of this course soon.

Until then I will be busy Geeking freely.

With love,


3 thoughts on “Learning and Living in Bali

  1. Olivia,

    Thank you for sharing your blog. I am so very proud of you and look forward to reading more. Your entries remind me of living in a favela in Brazil. It was beautiful, exciting, and at times very challenging but I would not change that experience for the world. I wish you lots of love and new experiences that will make you into a better person and scientist!

    Hope to see you when you come back to St. Croix for a visit. Hugs and kisses.

    Patricia Olivia Swan


  2. Hi sweet niece! I love your posts. Write more. All good here with me and boys. Uncle Seth is here in Colorado for a week. It’s nice to see him.
    Lots and lots of love! auntie.


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