The economic crisis that descended upon Southeast Asia starting in August 1997, hit Indonesia’s economy very hard. Economic problems were the main catalyst for the political upheaval in Indonesia. The political turmoil found in some parts of Indonesia has not affected life in rural Bali. However when inflation soared in 1998 local people began to struggle to make ends meet, especially with education and health expenses. There are no social welfare or health benefits for people in Indonesia, so family ties and communal help are essential for the survival for many families now.
Klub Kokos has given support in the areas of education and health by sponsoring a number of the local children in their schooling, as well as aiding in the funding of a number of hospitalised cases. With the help of donations from overseas friends, we are now in the process of rebuilding part of the Sebali Primary School, which was in a very bad state of disrepair. We can then aid in the development of a school and community library there – currently nonexistent – as well as purchasing some sports equipment for the school – also nonexistent.
While Indonesians battle with ever-increasing prices and the falling value of the rupiah, Westerners can now stretch their dollar so much further. Lately the value of US$1.00 has been close to Rp.10,000,-.
To help you cope with the feeling that you have become instant millionaires when you change money here (a million rupiah is just over US$100 now!), here are a few guidelines in dealing with the rupiah:
The local currency notes are:
- Rp. 100.000,- worth about US$10, this is the biggest denomination, not often seen in circulation, and when shopping for smaller items in the market place, you may have difficulty in getting change for this larger amount
- Rp. 50.000,-
- Rp. 20.000,-
- Rp. 10.000,-
- Rp. 5.000,-
- Rp. 2.000,-
- Rp. 1.000,-
- Rp. 1 000
- Rp. 500
- Rp. 100
- Rp. 50 (very occasional)
- Rp. 25 (very occasional)
When using a money changer please check the amount of rupiah given to you carefully. Some money changers (especially around the Kuta area) consistently try to short-change their customers. This is not common with Ubud moneychangers, but you should still make a habit of checking.
Money changers offer varying rates of exchange on their publicised board outside their shop. Check the current rate for the day before going ahead with an exchange deal, and make sure that there are no hidden ‘extra’ costs involved in the deal (e.g commissions), which make the exchange rate lower than expected.
Some of the larger banks (eg Bank Central Asia and Bank Danamon) are available for cash withdrawals to be made against your Visa or MasterCard. However, expect a bank charge/commission to be paid for this service. Banks are generally open five days a week, from 8.30a.m. until 3.00p.m., but cash withdrawals using a credit card must be made before 1.00p.m. each day.
A number of Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) are also available, but these machines may run out of money, particularly out of banking hours.
Money changers have longer hours than banks, until they run out of cash. Authorised money changers usually offer better deals to change cash or traveler’s checks (traveller’s cheques) than hotels or banks.