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Things I Miss About Living in Bali But is Probably Not the Same During the Pandemic: Papaya Discount Hour

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Nothing hits deeper than the beauty of memories. Yet along the way, many of those must have gone through some changes – which, still, would hit you deep enough. This series is about exactly that.

Beginning this third week of my return to this beloved publication, I am permitted to do a column series of my own. Since I have not stepped on to the island for almost two years as a visitor and it has been a solid three years since I left my flat and second home, I guess it would be interesting to be talking about the little things that I miss from living in Bali. And by little things, I meant little-little. Micro-little, on a very personal and intimate scale. Like, something as mundane as my daily commute to the office or my favorite place to have a cuppa.

When I was asked about it, I don’t know why, the first thing that immediately came into mind is this: lingering for around 30 minutes in Papaya, waiting for that 9 pm discount hour. A little backstory, Papaya supermarkets always have that last hour discount for their fresh products. From sushi, sashimi, onigiris, katsus, boxed Japanese meals to diced fruits and breads in their bakery, Komugi. Because they were made every morning, which cannot be sold the next day, the discount hour is an attempt to empty the shelf instead of throwing everything away by the end of the night.

Us discount hunters will always come early so we will have a better choice of items, say around 7.30-8 pm. Come in late and you will be left with the last of the salads, squid tantacles, and panko crumbs. Once we’ve got everything in our basket, it’s time to wait for the hour to hit. And what a long wait it was, especially when everybody else is doing the same. Everybody living in Bali, at least in South Kuta, will definitely have this experience.

I can’t imagine what has become of this fun consumerism microculture during the pandemic. Maybe holding safety precautions with limited capacity, gapped queues that make even longer lines, or even erasing the discount hour altogether. Like I said, it’s all about the cruising between aisles while waiting, the rush of getting into the cashiers when the time comes, or being stuck in a long line is part of the experience. Trust me when I say that most of the time, the enjoyment of eating our well-fought meal comes last. I miss every minute of it – and please give me a shoutout if you feel the same.

Anyway, I’ve decided to call this series “Things I Miss About Living in Bali But is Probably Not the Same Since the Pandemic.” Erm…it’s a working title. See you next week!


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