Andrzej Barski, normally called Andy, is a man of many skills.
Andrzej Barski is an author on some days and he’s a trainer and the brand director of Seven Stones Indonesia on most days. As a long-time expat now settled in Bali, Barski shared with Indonesia Expat about his life full of wonders and his views on Bali’s property scene.
Hi, Andrzej! Who is Andrzej (Andy) Barski?
Hi! I’m actually a first-generation Polish immigrant, born in Nottingham, UK. I first came to Jakarta in 1987 and moved to Bali full-time in 2000. I’ve been here now for 35 years and I guess I kind of forgot to leave.
I love to write, read, and ride motorbikes. I first got interested in motorbikes when I was in Jakarta and I spent almost every weekend riding around West Java and South Sumatra. I started to write stories about these adventures and thought it would be a good idea to try and do this full-time to make money. I didn’t think that one through though, and it wasn’t long before I was working “normally” again in an ad agency, a publishing house, and consulting for a few hotels and resorts.
What initially brought you to Indonesia?
I was an English language teacher when I first got here. I’d just got back from teaching in Kuwait and was about to leave the UK and hitchhike to Senegal in West Africa for the Pan-African Music Festival, which was scheduled to be in Dakar that year.
Then, I saw an advert in a newspaper called The Guardian Weekly, which said “How would you like to live in paradise?” That sounded right up my street, so I applied, made a call, went for an interview in London, got the job straight away, went home, and pulled out an atlas to find out where Indonesia was! I had no idea.
I was on a plane to Jakarta, via Singapore ten days after that. That first job was with International Language Programs (ILP) and then I worked at the Indonesia Australia Language Foundation (IALF) where I made a weekly radio show called “Kang Guru“.
What are you busy with these days?
Seven Stones Indonesia takes up nearly all of my time these days. We’ve been running since 2016 and we’ve managed to achieve an awful lot in the last couple of years. That’s taken a great deal of hard work which wouldn’t have been possible without the great team of people around us.
You’re an author of visionary fiction books. Can you share your next project?
My first novel was called “Powers That Be“ – which you can buy on Amazon, by the way! – and I’m working on the first book of a trilogy about a 20-year-old Indonesian woman called Laila who’s looking to avenge her father’s murder. Along the way, she learns a lot about herself and taps into Javanese and Balinese mysticism through her grandmother, who’s a white witch. I’m really enjoying writing through her voice and creating situations she has to find solutions to. I also like to write short stories about the human condition and poems about living in Bali.
Fill in the blank: Property, design and architecture in Bali are …
Heavily influenced by Balinese culture and spirituality, but like most things here, adapt to outside influences and trends. It’s an exciting time to be involved with that as there’s enormous potential to have a positive influence that respects the island and its people through more eco-friendly and community-conscious initiatives.
Your book “Eyewitness Guide to Bali and Lombok” is an indispensable guide to the islands. Tell us three words best to describe this book.
Escape. Explore. Enjoy.
At Seven Stones Indonesia, you’re also a trainer and brand director. What do you normally focus on through training and brand storytelling, specifically on Bali’s property?
It’s pretty much all focussed on finding a positive mindset, the customer journey, and creating memorable experiences, which is all about love, care, empathy, spirituality, and creativity. We believe first, you do good, then you do well, and by doing that we create real value because it means being ethical and doing the right thing.
That’s why we share so much through our social platforms, blogs, podcasts, and seminars. The more we share and give away, the more people we reach and are able to help. We encourage every member of our team to act with integrity, which unfortunately is something many property agents don’t always do and why some clients have trust issues. A big part of that is product knowledge, awareness of the rules and regulations, listening to clients, and being honest.
Will Bali’s property scene in the next three years improve in your view? Explain why.
In short, yes. Bali has a great ability to bounce back and recover and we’re already seeing movement in a positive direction. What’s interesting is how Bali’s able to embrace ideas around being more eco-friendly with design and use of materials while still retaining the unique characteristics that make Bali so special. We’re about to do something in the hills of Tabanan that reflect this and we’re inviting like-minded souls to be part of our journey through our new Seven Stones Indonesia Investment Company.
How’s life in Bali been? More expats are considering living there nowadays. Do you have any message for them in terms of property?
Life in Bali is great and I’m truly blessed and grateful to be living here. Everywhere has challenges, of course, but there’s something almost magical about living here. It’s like the island attracts people who live in balance with themselves, nature, and the community. And we’re seeing more and more expats being attracted to come and settle here, which is good so long as they show respect for the local culture.
In terms of property, my advice would be to build and develop with the idea of benefiting the community around you. Think about alternative energy and managing water and waste responsibly and build something beautiful. Don’t make a mess! In terms of buying something already built, look for well-constructed properties designed in such a way that let you enjoy nature in this fabulous paradise; there’s a lot to choose from!
Describe an ideal off-grid day riding on your Harley Davidson.
An early start and a good breakfast. Follow the coast for a while because there’s nothing quite like an ocean breeze, then head up to the hills. It’s amazing how quickly you can find yourself driving through electric green rice fields, enjoying stunning scenery, and twisting through empty mountain roads. Lunch with fabulous views is never hard to find, then a lazy route home on a road I’ve never been on before. Finish with a nice cold beer or two when I get home.
How can the readers reach you?
The best way to get in touch is by email at [email protected] or to swing by the Seven Stones Indonesia office on Sunset Road in Seminyak. Our doors are always open for a chat.