Kamanuel, Kamanuel!

What has always annoyed me since I moved in Bali in September 2007 is the HUGE challenge to find a place in Bali.

First of all, the number of the houses is not in series.

One example among so many is when I did my first live interview to a widow of a Bali bombing victim. Her sort-of office was located at Jalan Pemogan 135. I went with my boss there on a motorbike. It took us less than ten minutes to reach Jalan Pemogan, and 30 minutes to find the correct house with that 135 number.

For instance we saw a house numbered 25, the house next to it could be 69, and the one in front of it is 255! When we stopped and asked the people if they happened to know where the house number 135 was, they would suggest you directions which if you followed, you still couldn't get to see the right house. When you got back to them and told them that they gave you a wrong direction. They would say, "Oh... you mean number 135??? I don't know then."
So first lesson, don't really count on what they people say. They mean good by helping you give direction. But they just don't tell you that they don't know the place, which is a better way to do it if you really don't know it.

Smarter people whom you might approach may explain to you that the system of numbering houses in Bali is that... there is no system. If you have an empty block of land, and you build a house in the middle of it, because you are the first one to build there, you will put number one for your house. And then another house is built afterwards and it's located in the corner of the land block and let's say it's 20 metres from the first house, you'll give number two to it. Another house is built next to the first house, the owner can't give number two to the house, because the second house built has already taken it. So you have to put number three.

Then what you have to do when you get a Balinese address from someone is to ask which banjar1 it belongs to. Balinese recognize the name of banjar more than numbered houses.

Second difficulty is the pronunciation used when giving or given a direction.

Balinese pronounce the /p/ sound with /f/ and the /f/ and /v/ sounds with /p/.

There was this one time when I had to meet Vincent in a restaurant in Kuta in May last year. I took a taxi and told the driver that I wanted to go to restoran Sungai. Then he said, "Aaah, I think I know the place! It sells siput2." I was going like, "Are you serious? They serve snails???" And he said, yeah, yeah. And so I thought, this is what it costs to date a French guy. They eat weird stuff.

Arriving there I saw that it was a SEAFOOD restaurant! He pronounced seafood "siput" [read: see-put], which means snail in Bahasa Indonesia.

So the lesson learnt is: be aware that they might say something that you might think it was one thing, but it was actually another thing. So if you had to go to a house of Block F, they would say it was Block EP. And if it was Block P, you might hear it Block V. So to be safe, just ask them to write down the complete address!

It goes the same with the English pronunciation.

I wanted to go to Citibank office yesterday and the day before. I went to the only one I knew on Jalan Teuku Umar. But the security guard said that for the department that I was looking for, it was in another office. I didn't recognize the name of the street he was giving me. So he kindly gave me the direction to it:

"From here, you just go straight and pass the Simpang Enam statue. After that you will see Bank Kamanuel on your left side. There is road next to it. Turn left and you'll find the other Citibank office."

"Sorry, what bank again? Kamanuel?"

"Yes. There's a big yellow sign in front of the bank. You can't miss it."

"But I've never heard a bank called Kamanuel. You sure it existed?"

"Yes, yes. I'm very sure. It's there!"

I started my motorbike, but I turned again to him after relating the word that I heard with something else that made more sense (the yellow sign is also in my consideration), "You sure it's not Common Wealth Bank?"

"No! It's Kamanuel, Kamanuel!"

"Okay, thanks!"

Then I drove really, really slowly to locate this Kamanuel Bank so I wouldn't miss it. And after some time I found this yellow Common Wealth sign on my left hand side with an alley next to it. The alley leads to a sight of the blue Citibank sign.

So it was indeed the Common Wealth Bank. [Sigh]


1 - Banjar is the lowest Balinese administration system. It is something like RT/RW in Java or Sumatra. Or maybe it can be freely translated to village. [Please correct me if I'm wrong]

2 - Siput = snail.


  1. HUAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH Kamanuel Bank!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I love this!!!!!
    At least they didn't say Siti Bank or something like that.

    Thank God my father, born and raised and bred in Bali land (asli Buleleng, Singaraja) does not inherit that kind of accent and pronunciation!!!

    Oh but you should listen to him talking Balinese to his side of the family though (all Balinese).
    They sound like a bunch of retards with weird coded language!! Hahahahahaha.

  2. Well Siti Bank is pronounced exactly the same with Citibank. So it wouldn't be laugh unless they wrote it down. :D

    Hadn't you told me that you dad was a Balinese, I wouldn't have guessed it. His accent was very natural. I mean... no accent at all.

  3. Its very funny how elements of english have inserted themselves into local language. Why not just say makanan laut? Anyways I just learned a new word, siput, so thanks for that.

  4. Iyah! Nomor isa ga karuan pek! Heran....kenapa ga dibikin urut sih...kan makin padat skrg....

  5. pj: makanan laut is too long. 5 syllables. seafood on the other hand has only 2. could it be a reason enough? :D

    pyor: kalo mau urut sedangkan alamat sudah fixed dan semua orang taunya itu, kalo kirim surat ato apa jadi nyasar dong. sulit buat ngubah2 lagi.