Indonesia – Found my way again!

My last few post have been lacking and just about where I have been, and done, that sort of thing.  But the last couple of days, I have had some interesting experiences and realized I want to get back to writing about what I have learned and noticed.  So, this post is going to be about the quality of life, verses work aspects.

Living my life in a spoiled country like Canada, and having another spoiled country directly below us, I, at times forget what other have to go through in life just to eat.  Traveling through New Zealand, and Australia and now Indonesia, I saw two extremes on how people live and think.  I know this is going to be generalizing but see past that, and just think about your life in comparison when reading.

I am going to focus more on Australia, than New Zealand, because I feel it is more the extreme.

I found the attitude towards working the exact opposite in Australia than it is in North America.  I mean, we all hate working, but Aussies generally see you work to live.  Where in North America, we live to work.  I don’t know if it is the government, or why, but that is how the countries differ.

 Aussies get 20 days vacation a year to start at any job, and a lot of professional jobs get 25 days. Where in North America, 10 days is the starting point. They also on average work 37 hours a week, where we work 40 hours a week, in a full time position.  If you work in the private sector with a salary paid position, 40 hours is a dream.  I don’t recall ever working less then 45 in any job I have had, other than when I had a government job.

Because Aussies work less hours, they get paid more per hour to make the yearly salary end up being the same.  Their minimum wage is $20 per hour, ours in around $10 per hour.  Yes, some things are more expensive down under, however, lots of things are cheaper.

Almost every person I met and spoke to about work life in Australia talked about the number of hours they work and what they do for living.  Each person came out to the same conclusion.  They work hard, but less hours, and definitely think that work is there just so you can live.  I also spoke to people who manage companies they also hire this way.  They have no problem paying higher per hour, so the person can have more time off.  The general feel I got, was a person works harder when they are not overworked.

In North America this is rarely the case. I know that some companies are this way, but in general not so much.  Having been a professional for 15 years, I can tell you that getting 15 days vacation a year is not easy in North America and we try to get as much out of a person as we can, not caring about their personal life.

From the number counties I have visited in my life, Australia is one the best places to live and work.  I do want to mention, not every Aussie thinks this way.  I met my fair share of spoiled brats in Aussie that thought 4 weeks off a year, with 37 hours a week was too much.

Now I want to talk about the other end of the spectrum.  Countries where people work everyday, all day, just to break even.

I have been to several third world counties, including Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, and more recently Indonesia.

Here I am going to talk more about the examples, because I have not lived it, so I can’t explain from my experiences.

The homestay rented in Indonesia, there was a 18 year old native working at the reception.  She was a super sweet girl and loved to talk.  She told me all about her life, family and living situation.  So, here is her story.

She currently works at the homestay doing check-ins, and checkouts, including all cleaning and prepping of the rooms, and this homestay included a free breakfast.  She also was the cook/room server.  She gets 2 days off per month, not week, which is normal, but she told me her last job got 4 days per month off.  She thought that was amazing.

How long is her work day?  Well, there is no set work day.  She sleeps in single bed, in a shared room with the other person she works with, which is also the kitchen / living room.  The front door is the reception area.  To answer the question, she works all day and is always on call.  I wonder if that is more than 40 hours per week!

The people who own this homestay own another, and her brother works there, but also works at this location when she is not working, or is sick.  She does the same for him, but organizes it with the other guy who works in this location.

I asked her if this was normal to work this style of living and she said yes and explain to me how her other family members work.  She also explained to me because she is only 18, she doesn’t need all of her money, so any extra she has at the end of the month, she sends to her sisters who can’t find work, or didn’t make enough.

I can’t picture that happening in any developed county I have been in.  However, in these counties I see it a lot.

The hours and little time off she gets I know is normal for anyone working in these countries.  I have met and spoken to tones of people since the first time I went to a third world country back in 1999.  Oh hell, that shows I am OLD!

The bungalows I am currently staying at has 3 people working here.  One guy does the websites, bookings, and speaks English the best.  He is always sitting at the front desk asking you if you need anything, and if you are having a good day.  He told me, he and the other 3 guys get 3 days off a month.  When one has a day off, the other 2 take over his duties.

They all work from sun up, to sun down, or later depending on if guest are still wondering around.

All 3 guys live here in the same type of living style as the girl I mentioned above, with one difference.  They have a separate room for sleeping in, but then the one guy has a wife, and 2 kids, who also sleep in that room.

Let me tell you, these 3 guys work hard as hell.  Last night we lost power around 11 pm, for a short bit.  When the power came back on, the one guy went to each bungalow and listen outside to see if the AC came back on.  If it didn’t he would knock on the door and say, “Sorry sir for waking you, we lost power and your AC didn’t turn back on.  Can I come in and turn it on for you?  No need to get up, I will do it quickly and quietly.”   Some people might think that is annoying, but trust me when I say, this is a very good service.  It only cooled down to 29 last night with 100% humidity.  You want that AC on.

I have to tell this other story that I am not sure if it fits in here or not, but is worth telling.

There was a older couple from Europe, but not sure exactly sure where.  In the morning, we were all sitting in the outside dinning area when the lady asked if they could extend their stay here.  The guy replied, “I am sorry, but we are fully booked.”  The lady responded in an aggressive manner, “But we have no place to go, why can’t we stay!”.  He explained again, someone else has booked their room and all rooms are booked already.  There is nothing he can do.  She continues to speak in an aggressive manner, thinking that they should cancel someone else booking for them.  She then tries the sympathy card and tells them the last place they booked for one night and then wanted to extend and the same thing happened.

In my mind, I can’t believe how pompous and stupid this couple is, and I was starting to think I wanted to jump into the conversation and explain to them, how ridiculous they are being.  Maybe someone needed to explain how bookings work?

Anyways, the 1 of the 3 guys went out of their way and walked to several other bungalows and found them another place very to stay, and they even bargained a better price for them.  The also carried the couple luggage to the new place, without asking for tips.

Please don’t be like these people! Sometimes it is your own fault and don’t blame others!  On the other hand, be like these 3 guys.  Pay it forward, and help someone else without expecting something in return!

All this service for $15 dollars a night.  How much do you think these guys actually make?

The point I am trying to make is, think about how you live, how good or not good you have it, and then think about others.  There is always someone who has it better and someone who has it worse.  So, try not to be to negative and just live life in the most fulfilling way you can.

Work hard, but not so hard that you forget life is worth living.  If you feel you are not spending enough time with family or friends or away from work.  Make the change!

I don’t believe in religion, but I do believe you ONLY live once.  Enjoy it!

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