Interested in starting a business in Bali?

I have just put together a guide for setting up and running a business in Bali.

The guide covers all aspects including forming the company, employing staff, taxes and marketing. It is written with Bali in mind, but the information could also be applied to starting a business anywhere in Indonesia.

You can read more about the guide right here.

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Earthquake hits Padang, West Sumatra

Just after today’s 8.0 earthquake in Samoa, a 7.6 earthquake has hit West Sumatra near Padang.

Initially there were tsunami warnings, but they have since been scaled down. While there might be some damage to buildings, it doesn’t look like there has been any serious injuries yet or loss of life.

It is still early to tell though. The earthquake could be felt in Malaysia and Singapore according to CNN.

Update: CNN has reported that 13 people have died in the quake.

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New site on Lake Toba

I have been to Lake Toba a few times now and always have a great time staying there. It is one of the most quiet and relaxing places I have ever been to.

The people are very friendly and it is a very cheap place to stay. I am planning on adding more information to the site in the coming months.


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Bombs go off in Jakarta hotels

Two foreign hotels in Jakarta have been hit by suicide bombers killing at least 9 people and injuring many more.

I was hopeful that terrorism in Indonesia had died along with the 2005 Bali bombers, but it seems as though Indonesia is again under threat from further senseless acts of violence aimed at western interests in Indonesia.

Some parts of tourism had just started recovering in Indonesia and now the bomb blasts are going to resurface the previous attacks in Jakarta and Bali.

It just makes me sad, as I have never met anyone in Indonesia who has never been unfriendly towards me. Most people go out of their way to try and help you.

I wish I had something more incisive to say other than I hope the casualty rate doesn’t climb too high and a full investigations are done to catch the perpetrators behind these cowardly and senseless acts.

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Miss Indonesia planning to learn… Indonesian?

There has been quite a lot of controversy in the letters section of the Jakarta Post over the fact that the new Miss Indonesia Kerenina Sunny Halim can’t even speak Bahasa Indonesia. She impressed the judges with her English ability but need a translator when it came to answering questions in Indonesian.

“It’s been hard for me *to speak Indonesian*, because I use English every day,” says the half-American woman. “But I will learn. Indonesian is an easy language, as long as we’re willing to learn.”

Since she will be representing her country in the world competition, English will be more useful, but people are worried here she will not do a good job at representing her country. She seems to have had a very sheltered upbringing.

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Experiencing heavy rain in Jakarta

I am in Jakarta now for a few days and experienced heavy rains here for the first time. Of course it rained often in Medan where I have been living, but the drainage system seems to work well there. Not so in Jakarta. I was using the free wifi in a hotel restaurant and when I thought the rain had subsided, I tried making a quick dash back to my hotel in backpacker ghetto of Jalan Jaksa.

The street looked more like a river. The footpaths along the street are narrow and usually have cars and bikes parked on them and there are also plenty of food carts, making it difficult to make your way down the street. The water of course is brown and I didn’t like not being able to see what might lie in that murky water. Fortunately I made it back to my hotel without dropping my laptop or falling in a hole.


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Price of Apple iPhones drop in Indonesia

Telkomsel is celebrating its 14th anniversary this month and they are launching a new promotion for the Apple iPhone, cutting the price of the handset by 1 million rupiah. The 8GB model will sell for around 3 million and the 16GB for 4 million, with a 12-month contract.

I just bought an unlocked Nokia E63 here for 3 million. I would have loved to have an iPhone, but I would expect the 12-month contract you have to sign up for, would not be a cheap proposition. The iPhone originally went on sale here for around 10 million, without out a contract.

I think most people here in Indonesia just buy the handset and then a SIM card and top up their phone whenever they need it. I don’t make a lot of calls, so it suits me well and the price of sending local SMS messages is very cheap.

I haven’t seen any sales figures, but the Blackberry seems to be popular here as well as Nokia’s range of phones. I haven’t met anyone with an iPhone yet and haven’t seen much marketing of the phone here in Medan.

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Ten days of no sex for presidential candidate Megawati

You can’t help coming across some interesting stories in Indonesian newspapers. It’s getting closer now to the presidential elections and all presidential candidates and their running mates are required to undertake a medical examination.

For female candidates which will likely just be Megawati, they must abstain from sex ten days before their examination.

From the Jakarta Post:

The requirement for a female candidate to avoid having sex is to prevent the outcome of her medical checkup from showing “biased” results, IDI chairman Fachmi Idris said without elaborating.

I wonder how having sex would influence results of a medical exam and why its ok for the male candidates not to have to abstain.

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Muslim clerics want rules to be made for Facebook

While I am sure some Muslim clerics in Indonesia would like to see a total ban of the social networking site Facebook, at recent meeting of clerics or imams, they are proposing a set of guidelines and rules for muslims using the site.

Facebook has seen a surge of users in Indonesia using the website since 2008, with around 831,000 users.

From the Jakarta Post:

The clerics think it is necessary to set an edict on virtual networking, because this online relationship could lead to lust, which is forbidden in Islam,” said Nabil Haroen, a spokesman for the Lirboyo Islamic boarding school, which is hosting the event.

Can’t any relationship online or offline lead to lust? I agree that people should act responsibly on the internet just as they would in real life. I wonder if you really need a different or separate set of rules.

“People using Facebook can be driven to engage in distasteful, pornographic chatting,” said Amidan, who was monitoring the two-day conference in the town of Kediri, in eastern Java.

I think because Facebook requires you to register using your real name, I think Facebook is less likely to be used in a “distasteful” way than other sites which allow you to register anonymously.

Organized religions can only benefit from using social networks for attracting young people. They can also be good for organizing events and online discussions.

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After catching our flight to Padang and a bus the next day to Bukittinggi, due to an illness in my girlfriend’s family we had to go back to Medan.

We only had about a half-day sightseeing in in Bukittinggi. All of the flights were full back to Medan so we had to take the economy bus. It was about an 18-hour trip, which was a little painful at times, but an interesting experience.

If you look at a map the distance isn’t so great, but the roads are very windy and hilly and in parts they have been washed away. I can’t believe we didn’t even have one breakdown.

They seem to be suffering an even bigger downturn in tourism in West Sumatra than North Sumatra, with only a handful of tourists spotted in Bukittinggi. One tour guide complained to me, “It just hasn’t been the same since the Bali bombings”.

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