Myrthe is a social entrepreneur who, together with her boyfriend, decided to live and work in Bali for a while. In this blog post, she shares her experiences with us and gives us tips on how to integrate into the local community. Planning to be a digital nomad in Bali or somewhere else and want to know how your experience can be? Then read on!
I remember Ketut coming through the door with one of the biggest smile on his face I have seen in years. “Here are all your fresh juices and smoothies, miss”, he said. Full of pride and enthusiasm, he puts all the glass bottles on the table. Fresh orange juice, pineapple, banana, watermelon & mint smoothies: it was all there.
Becoming A Digital Nomad In Bali
For a long time, I was planning this. I dreamed of building my own empire and being my own boss for a while. The idea to live in absolute freedom, nobody to ask permission to, to take breaks and go on a holiday whenever I wanted, made me very happy. Creating a situation where I would work and travel at the same time came: it came all together by becoming a digital nomad.
In October 2021 my boyfriend and I decided to leave our rental flat behind, put all our stuff in a box and book a one-way ticket to Bali. What we would do after that? No idea! The only thing we knew was that we wanted to learn about different habits, religions, food and communication. To really get to know the people and to understand the country that we would visit.
How difficult was it for you to integrate into Bali?
Integrating into Bali was quite easy as I would say. Balinese people are very welcoming, friendly, and open to having a conversation with you. Next to that, it was also quite easy to integrate because the Balinese people who live in the more touristy places on the island speak English well.
Were there cultural barriers that you had to overcome?
Not really. For me it was fascinating to see how many ceremonies there were each day. Apparently, Balinese men have a ceremony at the temple almost every day. Women are allowed to only join on the National Holidays. Almost every week there was a roadblock, and you had to make a detour because there was a parade or ceremony going on in the streets. For me this wasn’t a cultural barrier, but actually very beautiful too see.
The Digital Nomad Hub of South-East Asia
Canggu, Bali, is the digital nomad hub in Southeast Asia. It is perfect to set up your business because the town provides all the fundamentals that you need. It has enough co-work spaces, good Wi-Fi, lovely food, and good places for networking with other online entrepreneurs.
As amazing as it sounds: setting up your online business surrounded by ocean, good food, and drinks, I didn’t want to close my eyes to the culture of Bali itself. I didn’t want to be that “tourist” that would live there for 6 months in its western bubble, and once leaving Bali only be able to say: “I am so tanned and the Italian food was amazing”. No judgment here, but for me, that is and was not a Bali experience.
What is your perception of locals on digital nomads vs other migrants?
I had several conversations with taxi drivers and restaurant owners. They are actually very happy to have digital nomads in Bali because it drives another form of tourism. Digital nomads are people that stay for a longer period and because of their longer time on the island they visit the island with ease. The tourists that are coming to Bali for 1 – 2 weeks, to have big parties and excessive drinking, have less attention to the Balinese people and their culture. Sometimes they would cause some problems on the island due to not taking care of the environment, breaking things while they are drunk or demanding western food. This contributes to more western companies coming to the island, which, unfortunately, causes the Balinese culture to disappear more and more.
Creating Connections With the Local Community
While being in Bali, I planned to make at least 5 local connections. As silly as that number may sound, that is how I challenge myself to connect and interact with new cultures. While talking about habits, food, and Balinese ceremonies with one of the local girls in the guest house, I found also out how Bali has been suffering from the pandemic. No tourism means no income.
So one day, one of my friends, David, came home with the story of Ketut. A guy that he ran into when he came back from the supermarket. Ketut was selling second-hand clothes out of a garbage bag to be able to provide some money for his family. During the pandemic, he lost his job at the hotel. His biggest dream was to start his own juice store, but he had no idea how and where to start. The only thing he had was a piece of paper with some written recipes for different smoothies on it.
While David was contemplating giving Ketut some money, my mind kept wondering: what can we do for Ketut, so that he is able to provide money for his family for a longer period of time? To create a sustainable source of income?
Helping A Stranger
After a couple of months of living in Bali, me, my boyfriend, and everyone else we had met during our stay in the guest house had made connections and friends all over the island. What if we could provide Ketut with clients with whom he could sell his fresh juices and smoothies?
After several talks with Ketut, to make sure that this was something that he really wanted, we gathered our forces. Together with Ketut we created his digital menu, and another person was able to provide him with a logo. So after a while, he was all set up to receive his first orders. With a total of 15 people, we placed his first-ever order: different combinations of fresh fruit juices and smoothies and all delicious!
The Biggest Smile
I remember Ketut coming through the door with one of the biggest smiles on his face I have seen in years. “Here are all your fresh juices and smoothies, miss”, he said. Full of pride and enthusiasm, he puts all the glass bottles on the table. Fresh orange juice, pineapple, banana, watermelon & mint smoothies: it was all there.
Ketut made us, people from all over the world, gather our forces. Friends from the Netherlands, Cyprus, Ireland, Russia, Germany, United States, and Ukraine. Everybody sent Ketut’s menu and phone number to their contacts on the island, and orders kept coming in. Up until this day, “Juices by Ketut” makes fresh juices and smoothies in Canggu, all freshly delivered to your home.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line of this story is how we, as human beings, all are able to corporate together. Without fights, without arguments, and with cultural differences. The only thing we need is to be open, to listen, to respect, and to take action on things that really matter! Do you also want to help someone in a way like Myrthe did? You can start by signing up as a buddy at SPEAK to share your culture and language!
What advice would you give to future digital nomads?
- A practical tip: book a place only for a couple of days and test if you like it. Sometimes, in pictures everything looks great, but then in real life it can be in a bad condition. Is there good Wi-Fi, a nice bed, and lovely people to connect with? Then extend your stay. If not? Find a new place!
- Make connections with the locals to understand and enjoy their traditions. It can lead you to lovely friendships. Don’t be shy, just be open!
- Dive into the unknown. I am sure it will lead you to the most beautiful experiences!
Interested to know more about migrants? Read our latest blog post What Is the Difference Between Migrants, Refugees, and Asylum Seekers?
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the views of SPEAK