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To Survive Bali, You Need to Embrace the Mess

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Religious decoration near houses on street road traffic in sunny day

I had a dream: to become a Kickass Lawyer. Everything seemed to be going according to the plan. I finished law school, became a lawyer and was on a fast-track scheme in one of the best law firms in the Baltics. Then, a sudden business trip to Malaysia and a short vacation in Bali messed up everything.

triin tigane

After I got back to Estonia, I couldn’t get Bali out of my mind. Half a year later, there I was, arriving in Denpasar airport on a one-way ticket. I put my life back home on hold and arrived in Bali to manage a branch of a consulting company named Emerhub. My job was to set up companies and licences for foreigners doing business in Bali.

I was very excited, a bit scared, and had no clue what was going to happen. It was supposed to be a short break until I resumed my Kickass Lawyer Plan. This “break” has lasted for almost three years now!

The Bali I have got to know whilst living here is totally different from the Bali I saw through my traveller eyes. I fell in love with Bali because it was so different to the environment I came from – the people felt free, present, happy, and always going after their dreams. Strangers would smile without any reason, and no-one was constantly in a hurry or anxious about life.

This easy-going culture, however, wasn’t so appealing when it came to working and doing business. I met expats who were just going with the flow – doing business without any licenses, without the proper visas, and thinking that money or contacts are an easy and fast fix for all of their problems. Until the problems got too big – and then they blamed it on Bali.

I also saw a lot of from the other end of the spectrum – people that were paranoid about everything because they had been betrayed or they had spent too much time reading horror stories in expat groups. For whichever reason, neither type of expats ever seemed to leave Bali either.

When it came to processing company registrations and licences, nobody was in a hurry. Even some of the authorities seemed to have time for holidays, ceremonies, and all of the other important things, except for doing the things that I needed doing fast. Once I thought I was finally on top of the game, the regulations changed. I was back to square one again, and this happened a few times a year.

I felt like Bali was giving me signs to stick to the original plan and go back to Estonia, where 15 days in the law means 15 days in real life as well, and new regulations are not applied retroactively.

However, over time I have learned to embrace the mess. The seemingly complicated legal environment is actually pretty simple. The competition in the market is not that tough compared to the markets where a company set-up can be done online within a couple of minutes. Specifically, many people give up before they even start due to the conflicting information and rapidly changing legal environment, instead of seeing this as an opportunity.

Even though I stumbled upon Bali for resetting my life “Eat, Pray, Love” style, I must admit it is a great place to get stuck for longer for both personal and business reasons.

Triin Tigane is the Branch Manager of Emerhub Bali , Triin Tigane has been assisting people with starting their business in Bali for nearly 3 years. Having a legal background in M&A, commercial and corporate law, restructuring and insolvency as a lawyer, Triin has experience working with companies all around the world. She knows which challenges starting and expanding companies face, and which standard of communication and services are expected by international clients expanding to emerging markets. Triin Tigane holds a masters degree from the University of Tartu, Estonia, and has studied law also in France and Austria. Feel free to drop her an email: [email protected]

Image: Sabrina Schmid

See: The Dark Night – Bali

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