Louisa Claire


Welcome To Paradise

We arrived here, in Paradise, on Thursday evening. It was a long and wearying journey that saw me bursting into tears as we boarded the plane in KL and cry for the first part of the flight. When we arrived at the villa in Ubud after a 90minute drive from Denpassar airport we looked at a lovely white Villa thinking it was our home for the week.

It wasn’t.

It was the staff quarters.

Our new home was to be reached by and outside lift that carried us down into the voluptuous rainforest before depositing us on a quaint pebble path leading to something out of a movie set. No words can do justice to this stunning place.

The villa has 5 permanent staff, all here to look after our family of 8 during our stay. I’ve just returned from the kitchen where I found the night watchman. I didn’t realise the lovely man who made me coffee this morning, when I stumble bleary eyed from my luxury room into the outdoor lounge room by the pool, had been up all night. When I left the kitchen I noticed he wasn’t there anymore; I found him
again waiting just outside our room with a torch to help me navigate the steps back inside.

This afternoon I went for a spa treatment. I chose a place with good reviews on trip advisor more than willing to pay a bit more. Yesterday I saw a spa facility with a 60min massage for 55.000IRD ($5.50) or a package for a out 200,000IRD ($20) Today we paid a little more than that and as we left the lady commented that I’d given her too much. I’d left a $10 tip…what’s the appropriate amount when you’ve just paid $28 for a 4hour pamper?

This morning I bought a pair of sandals for $3. She’d been asking $15 but yesterday I saw the exact same for .90c. I’ll haggle but not over $2. The Architect bought some pants and left me to haggle. The starting price was $13, we bargained for a minute and then she said “you can afford it” and she’s right. I can.

I am so grateful to be here, I honestly can’t imagine a more idyllic setting. But from the comfort of my cool villa, I’m left with the uncomfortable question…What do you do when your paradise is someone else’s poverty?

Thoughts on “Welcome To Paradise

  1. There’s that..and then there’s the rip offs. I think you should just enjoy this well-deserved break with your lovely family. You’ve already helped in the tourism industry, at the very least. Who knows when your next holiday will be!

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  2. I know all too well what you mean. I am staying in this lovely hotel where all my needs are met, but from my window I can see a family living in a construction site. I know I was ripped off yesterday when buying a bag, but it was still ridiculously cheap in Aussie dollars. I didn’t bother haggling. I wanted the bag. He wanted the money, all good.

    The important thing is, I think, to enjoy your holiday, spend your money, but do so without guilt. Haggle a little but not a lot. Tip those that give great service and say “thank you”. a lot. We work hard for our money to be able to holiday. Our standard of living is vastly different, and we are very lucky to be born where we were. Your holiday is providing employment. And your word of mouth is advertising. It sounds like heaven to me and now I want to go there.

    “you can afford it” $13 yes, but there can also be a perception that your wallet is bottomless. I experienced this yesterday when I was offered a rug at the “bargain” price of $12,000. That’s crazy bottomless wallet rich.

  3. I have a huge problem with this.

    It makes me uncomfortable just reading about it. Not the haggling bit so much, they are retail businesses and will not sell below cost (I hope) and I know that most people are good sorts and will not haggle too much.

    It is the servant issue that creeps me out and I feel comfortable saying that here because I know you well enough to know that you would never be treating people poorly or taking them for granted. But are other people that stay there as kind hearted? How much do these people work and for what little pay. How much do they put up with for fear of losing a job and providing for their families. Are these jobs considered “good jobs” where people will do whatever they must so that don’t lose it?

    It would certainly dampen my happiness a tad.

    Or, I would probably be like my parents, who were sent as ex pats to a remote island nation and my Mum was given two ladies to clean her apartment three times a week. It was the first time in her life that she had a cleaner, but no kids at home and no commitments, she did not need domestic assistance but did not want them to lose their job, instead she cooked for them and insisted they have morning tea with her each day. She asked them to bring their kids, to meet their families, to walk with her to the local market and teach her how to purchase the local food. Ten years after leaving and she still writes to them regularly and sends the children books and school items and she still feels that she got so much more from them than they ever got from her.

    • TOTALLY Claire. That is how I feel and what a wonderful example your mother is of how to do things differently. Hinduism is the religion of many of the Balinese we have encountered and being a religion that says that they way you live in this life will impact how you are reincarnated my guess would be that a lot of people do put up with bad treatment and circumstances because of their beliefs about the afterlife as much as they fear of losing their jobs. We did have a wonderful meeting yesterday at the restaurant we went to where the owner was telling us about his daughter who is studying at uni in Denpassar, as only the wealthy can afford uni I was a little surprised and then he told us about some Americans that had met them a long time ago in Bali, fell in love with the place and essentially were philanthropists – helping him to set up his restaurant and paying for his daughters university. The servant situation is very strange, and we have done our best to be kind and generous but the cycle of poverty is incredibly evident.

  4. Selling to tourist is a great opportunity to earn larger profit. They usually allow haggles on people they know who won’t tolerate larger prices. I think it is really generous of you that you gave in to the demand of the seller considering that they are not earning that much on normal days. But I find the price on the spas very cheap and I am glad you were satisfied with the service there as well.

  5. The important is that you had wonderful experience and some great souvenirs from your travel. Merchants usually find profitable opportunities when they encounter tourists. It is great that you get to practice your haggles.

  6. Hi Louisa, I’m currently living in India and have a full time house maid. At first I felt really guilty that a 15 year old girl was cleaning for us for such little money. However I know realise that if we didn’t employ her that she may be living on the streets and begging for money.
    It saddens me to see such poverty however you are giving these people dignity and a job by taking your holiday.
    Enjoy your holiday, relax and have fun!!!!

    Nicky Singh
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    • Thanks Nicky, it’s such a strange thing to get your head around entrenched poverty like that – where being a servant is all you can ever hope to be, but at least it provides an income. It’s a huge reminder to me about how blessed we are live where we live! Thanks so much for saying hi, lovely to ;meet’ you! (and sorry for my slow reply to your comment, askimet caught it in spam and I only just found it!)

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