Another Bali Street
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|Another street. There's plenty
of construction going on in Bali, but just small buildings as far as I could
see. The largest buildings I saw on Bali were medium sized hotels and office
complexes, maybe three or four storeys. Nevertheless, it's evident that
Bali is growing, becoming more urban.
There is a lot of industry visible in Bali, but it is all small scale. The roads, especially going in the interior of the island are lined with mile after mile of small workshops/stores, turning out a variety of finished, handmade goods; furniture, wood carvings, stone carvings, paintings, pottery, textile products of all kinds, decorative mirrors, jewelry, and many other small items. If you have something special in mind, anything can be made to order. You could fully decorate a house here. Cheap. Some are bought by tourists, but I think the vast majority of the stuff is bought by exporters who sell it to boutiques around the world, where it sells for way more than what you'd pay here. Mixed in with the workshops are plenty of art galleries (displaying VISA logo at the entrance), and freight outfits.
The currency is the Indonesian Rupiah (roo-pee-ah), which sold at about 11,300 Rp. for one U.S. dollar when we were there. Before the Asian financial crisis of 1997 the rupiah was 2,400 to the dollar. Needless to say, everything is really cheap in Bali now. Gasoline is 1150 Rp. per liter, or about 39¢/gallon. Nice lunch for two at an "expensive" tourist restaurant of grilled prawns, (another entree which I forget), salads, rice, drinks, bottled water, and including tax and service charge: $10.
Also interesting, when changing dollars to rupiah, it pays to bring U.S. notes that are new and in good condition. The money changers will actually pay more for a new bill, especially $100s, than for a worn one. As elsewhere, cash is worth more than traveller's checks.