Because you have to bargain everything in this country. At the market, when you buy anything. And even more when you are building when we are talking about pretty consequent money amounts. After all this time this doesn’t still come naturally to me, but clearly I have to keep working on it because it turns out you do have to negotiate everything, including the building work.
This is how the road went:
Pre meeting stage: go around, talk to people about contractors, we decide we want to meet a guy from Penida that was recommended to us by various people.
Meeting 1: we tell our landlord about him, he goes « yes of course I know him let me call him ». The guy (from now on lets call him Wayan because like another million people in Bali that’s his name) shows up to the land, has a look and walk around, chat for half an hour. Nothing concrete happens here, that is the first approach, we see each other’s faces, he says that he can build a road, which is good to know because that is what we need. We find out that he seems like a decent guy, he finds out we can communicate because we speak Indonesian.
Meeting 2: we bring our architect to his office, road plans under the arm. Wayan is 40 min late in good Indonesian fashion. He offers drinks, we see the place so we can see he means business, he tells us about his other contracts. Gunawan stirs the conversation into the plans and the work and how long and after a good hour we get a price out of him. We don’t really like the price but we say nothing other than that we will think about it. Shake hands, see you soon.
Meeting 3: we meet on the land again. Meeting after he gave us a first price is an indication that we are interested. Gunawan isn’t here but we spend a lot of time on the phone going into technical details. Ensues some concerns that could potentially increase the price (of course), more chit chat. Then we sit down and smile and ask for price again. Price goes down 15%. Julia and I have agreed to what we were ready to pay beforehand and we are happy with the new price but we are not saying that out loud yet. Wayan offers to go see another building he is working on. We go, then go and see a plot of land he just bought, talk building and the usual mandatory life questions about where we live and family situation and how long we’ve been here and so on and so forth. Julia rides in the car with him because we have established a long time ago she is much better at PR than me. I smile and compliment the building and the land and laugh at his jokes.
Meeting 4: after meeting 3 we have let Gunawan discuss contract terms and payment details. Meeting 4 takes places in a restaurant in Bali, so there is eating and drinking and more conversation. When we get closer to seal the deal, Wayan brings up the taxes (which he never did before). We never even thought about bringing it up because he should be the one paying taxes on what he is invoicing us, but we then realise this is the second time we have this problem when we are trying to close a deal. (Our landlord did the same with the taxes he is supposed to pay to rent us the land.) We have been fooled twice, it won’t happen a third time. So we explain to Wayan we need to be able to declare the work he is doing, so taxes are needed. After more discussion we come up with an agreement on how it will be invoiced and what we can declare, without the price being increased. A win right there. Once we have agreed on all, mandatory selfie with Wayan and all involved, hand shaking, and everyone leaves happy.
This process took over a month. Slowly, oh so slowly.
But it is finally happening: