So who am I talking to?
Profile: Sue, husband Gil, gorgeous groodles Sophie and Lua
Originally from: Perth, Western Australia
Arrived in Bali: February 2013
Home in Bali is: Canggu
How long do you plan to stay?
It is open-ended because we are on a retirement kitas visa. We still love it here very much but I think everything changes in Bali even on a daily basis so at the moment we just renew our visa year by year without any set concrete plan.
Right now I am very torn because my heart and passion is 50% Bali but my desire and everything I miss is back in Perth. The grandchildren are now 4 and 6 and we skype regularly but we miss them desperately.
I also miss working and I feel that perhaps I was meant to live here because I have gathered so much knowledge about products, manufacturers and wholesalers in Bali that I might like to do my own thing if and when we got back.
Once again, we have put it out there and whatever happens, happens. If we are meant to move back then it will all happen – someone will make an amazing offer on our home and we would equally find a home back in Perth – everything would flow in that direction. So that is all we do, we live each day and just see where it goes.
What made you move to Bali?
My husband and I had a business in Perth and when you have your own business and work so hard you don’t have the luxury of just being able to go away for a 2-week holiday. So anytime we got to have a breather it was a logical choice to shoot over to Bali.
In fact, my first trip to Bali was about 28 years ago with my brother and it was very quiet back then.
Even before we sold the business we thought what about living in Bali if we retired. So my husband researched all the options about living and moving here. We did a lot of research on the retirement visas before we came here and we knew everything we needed to know.
Our daughter was so supportive of us moving and told us ‘to live our life and do what you have to do’. So that cemented it for us that it was OK to come.
Another reason which made it OK was that all our family and friends come to Bali – everyone! I am getting messages nearly every day from people coming over for a visit.
So we sold the business and I have to say we are very lucky in our lives that whatever we have chosen to do just unfolds and there isn’t any struggle.
Of course the hardest part was leaving my daughter and grandchildren but everything else went perfectly for our move and the timing was great.
What do you normally do back in Australia?
We both worked for other companies for a long time and then one day we thought lets do it ourselves and we ran a very successful office furniture company for 20 years. We would design and plan offices and get things made with local manufacturers and then we moved into importing furniture mainly from Malaysia.
We worked hard for many years and it afforded us a nice lifestyle and one that we really enjoyed.
What is a typical day here for you?
Then I am off to my gym classes every morning. Some days I will go off on my scooter and do some photography. There is always something happening in my area and I love to post on my instagram account.
I spend a lot of time with my two best friends who have very successful businesses in Bali .. Giovanna who owns Bungalow Living in Canggu and Kirsten who owns Sunrise Resort on Gili Air .. we share lots of stories and laughs.
My husband and I also recently joined the Rotary Club Bali Canggu and have been elected President and Secretary for the next 12 month term. It will be very rewarding and keep us very busy with ongoing projects to help the less fortunate than ourselves.
Tell us about your food experiences living here
We stay home a lot and cook. I brought the Thermomix with me from Perth and had it on my lap on the plane ride here! My husband likes to cook too.
I get my fruit, vegetables and spices from the local markets down the road and then I go to supermarkets like Canggu Station or Popular for other things. We eat very simply and very healthy.
Otherwise we will go cheap and cheerful and we love going to a great Warung at Batu Belig beach – have a meal and some Bintangs while we watch the sunset. There are some new beach bars up along the Echo Beach that we visit too.
My friend Kirsten and I love to try out all the nice coffee shops around Batu Bolong but we always end up at Bungalow Living as they have the nicest coffee.
What do you think about the locals?
We have lived in this area for four years and are super accepted and surrounded by a lot of Balinese families. We are the ‘bules with the two big white dogs’. They all love them, the kids run out and rush to play with them and everyone stops for a chat.
I have picked up local Bahasa Indonesia and can converse a little when they don’t speak a word of English like at the markets.
I love the ceremonies and the best time is just before Nyepi, called Melasti and I am down there at the beach right amongst it getting beautiful photos and even though it’s a similar occasion every year it is still always amazing to watch.
I want to soak up as much as I can while I live here. Even just the little ceremonies they have and just being at home you can hear the Bali sounds when the noise carries the wind. It really touches me and I think it is quite amazing.
What are you enjoying most whilst living here?
I love the fact that no two days are ever the same.
You wake up in the morning and you might have a rough idea about what you are going to do but there is always something.
I love the weather here. It is an ever changing weather pattern daily. Apart from the humidity, I love the wet season and the storms. I love the big grey thundery clouds.
You don’t know what you are going to see when you go out on the streets, like the other day we were running late for a lunch and we got stuck behind a cremation ceremony going down Berawa. But I never get stressed and think wow this is incredible and we are caught up behind this extraordinary procession – so you never know what you might see.
What have you least enjoyed so far?
My heart breaks when I see some of the conditions of the animals because I am a mad animal lover. There is an amazing history of Bali dogs and they are extraordinary animals which a lot of people don’t understand. They just think they are these feral dogs that run around.
I just wish the Balinese just had the same passion they have for the caring and welfare of animals as we do. I understand financially, like if our dogs get sick we can afford to take them to the vet. But it breaks my heart when they think these dogs can be disposable like when a dog has pups and they think they can just dump them in a bag on the street or chuck the kittens out into the bush. I know I cant change it because it has been like this for a million years but it breaks my heart.
What do you miss back home?
I miss my family and my grandchildren. I guess I also miss work in some way as I wasn’t ready to retire. I miss affordable wine and a lot of my favourite groceries that I like to cook with that you just cant get here. Also miss being able to walk out of my home in Perth and be able to clip the leads on the dogs and go for a beautiful walk and enjoy the big clean streets and parks.
Have you experienced any ‘culture shock’?
I cant say there was only culture shock because I have been coming here so long and I have seen all the changes. I think it is a natural progression of where I have meant to be living for a while.
How has it been being part of an expat community?
I think it is fabulous and I think we do need each other at times, even for the obvious things like needing a good plumber.
I have my two best friends I mentioned earlier and then I also catch up with girls I met at the Canggu Club. It is great to share banta and talk about our experiences, have we seen something, have we done something, referring places to go to or where not to go to.
I love the fact that we are such a mixed bag – ladies from England, Australia, Singapore, Belarus and Germany. I feel like I have know them for a long time and it is because we live our lives so differently here and I think your friendships go a lot deeper because you open up immediately. Your not guarded and your just so open because you are living the Bali experience. It is all to be shared and we have great fun doing that.
What is the best thing you have done while you have lived here?
I have found more of my passions. For example, I love my photography and I post and share my Bali experiences on Instagram.
I love my gorgeous friends who I share a deep bond with.
I learnt to ride a scooter which I would miss if I went back to Australia. Although I would like to still have one if we moved back, I feel it is actually safer to ride one here in Bali than back in Australia.
If you had to describe Bali in three words what would it be?
Spiritual – Fascinating – Challenging
What tips do you have to those looking at making the move to Bali:
You have to realise that Bali is in a country with laws. People tend to think Bali is so relaxed and you can come over and do what you like when you cant.
As well as the laws you really need to be doing your homework. I will give you an example, a few months ago there was a young German guy next door who bought a villa that was for sale and he did it up and he thought he was going to run it on Airbnb. I asked if he did his homework and got his licence and he didn’t know anything about it. Now the place is empty as they wont give out a licence in this area anymore. So you have to do your homework, research on the net and ask other expats and go on some local forums – ask loads of questions. I notice the rules are really seeming to be adhered to now.
Be prepared to live somewhere that is extraordinarily different to where you have come from. You blend in to the Bali way life whether you like it or not.
Allow yourself a good year to settle in and don’t be disheartened in that first year. That is great advice my daughter told because she has lived in other countries and said give yourself a good year – don’t love it – don’t hate it.
All these beautiful photos are taken by Sue and she has a great Instagram account that perfectly captures her living the Bali dream and sharing it with hubby Gil and their scrumptious groodles Sophie & Lua.