Us versus Balinese architecture

Everything is so pretty here in Bali.  Even though so much is built of bare concrete, it is soon covered in vivid green moss that thrives in the dampness. However,  with one foul swoop, the much famed Balinese style achieves total baby unsafeness, and almost total wheelchair inaccessibility.

Check out the doorway beside Snowy. It is too narrow for a wheelchair, and it has a hoofing great step to get over.

Check out these steps! These are pretty typical, they are everywhere.


What about the baby?  Well, we moved into this gorgeous house, in a family compound.  It has lovely rice paddy views, and frangipani trees galore. Check out the sheer drop off the front porch!  And Baby Boy learnt to climb out these windows in just two days…. there’s hard concrete below. It’s fine for the family that lives here, there are three babies, and heaps of uncles, aunties and other people about all the time, those babies never get a moment to themselves.  It doesn’t have to be safe.

The whole bathroom is designed for maximum slipperiness and hardness of tiles. The drain hole is in the opposite corner of the room to where the water comes out, ensuring as much of the floor as possible gets wet. Try learning to walk on that slippery floor little boy!

Every council in Australia would be horrified by this unfenced  pool;


What about getting around?

The footpaths are just as dodgy as elsewhere in Asia. Good thing we have a chair that can handle them all – you’ll read about this in an up-coming post about what Sparky’s travel wheelchair can do.

There are uncessesary steps everywhere. While we were staying in this surf camp, these two steps were constructed, paved and decorated. Why?? The ground is the same level on the other side!!! The step just goes up, then down again!

Can you blame us for smiling when the hotel guys couldn’t get their own trolley through?

And don’t you just love irony of the writing on the step.


There are also many walls and tight corners which don’t seem structurally necessary.  Wheelchair accessibility is not a consideration. It’s all about spirits, apparently bad spirits can only go in straight lines, so if you put a wall in the right place, you can stop them coming into your home compound. The steps, too, are to stop spirits from entering.

I’m all for respecting people’s rights to practice their religion, but I can’t help wondering if they believe that the bad spirits get about in wheelchairs? Or do they believe people in wheelchairs  are the bad spirits? I don’t think so. People with disabilities just don’t come into the equation. They are invisible. Their needs were never part of the planning or implementation.

Just for the record, we won’t allow out daughter to be invisible, or silent.  We support the push for universal design in architecture and education.  We support the ideas of full access and inclusion. We are all for adaptive equipment, augmented communication and supported independance. We fully support the NDIS in Australia. All of these things should happen. They should have already happened. And we are so grateful to those making them all happen.  But while we wait, we’ll try to give Sparky an extraordinary childhood anyway.

While we wait, and indeed, while we can,  we do this:

If we waited for the world to suit us, we’d be waiting too long….






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11 Responses to Us versus Balinese architecture

  1. Jennifer Pearce August 8, 2012 at 2:12 pm #

    I love this post Jill, especially the part about not waiting for the world to suit you, while working for change at the same time. I couldn’t help but laugh about the slippery bathroom with the drain location issue. So funny. I remember having lots of wet bathroom floor problems in Malaysia too.

  2. Laura August 8, 2012 at 7:21 pm #

    As ever, you guys are amazing. I love your humour within your rant and I love the way you find another way, your can do attitude (I could almost be tempted to say orthofunctional personalities haha, but I wouldn’t dare, just in case). I have no doubt that you are giving ALL of your children an extraordinary childhood. I hope we will be brave enough to do the same because my goodness, the wonder and discovery in the faces of all your children, that in itself should inspire us all to push our boundaries and seize the day. Thank you for continuing to inspire, wonderful people xxx

  3. Hugh August 8, 2012 at 8:07 pm #

    Thoroughly enjoying the posts… do keep up the amazing work (that’d be the posting AND the child-rearing, BTW) Best to you all!

  4. Bampa August 9, 2012 at 9:41 am #

    Are you saying the mirror-looking thing beside Snowy is really a dorrway? It looks so ornate and useless! Excellent coping with tough issues.

  5. Lisa Wood August 9, 2012 at 10:40 pm #

    Never realised that travelling with a wheelchair in Asia could be so challenging! There sure does seem to be a lot of stairs, and funny little door ways.
    still cant believe the pool hasnt got a fence around it :)
    Lisa Wood recently posted..Time Poor Is Not An ExcuseMy Profile

  6. Maria August 16, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

    Yup, that thing is a doorway. It’s beautiful, but not very useful.

    Great shot of the pool!
    Maria recently posted..Is This Real?My Profile

  7. Deb @ Bright and Precious August 26, 2012 at 6:47 pm #

    Love your passion for making a difference. Especially when it comes to making the world better for Sparky. I’m in awe of what you do. Sometimes I don’t even have the words to tell you how your lives are just so inspirational. It sounds trite. But truly, it’s a real and authentic kind of inspiration.

    Yes, Balinese architecture might be aesthetically pleasing but downright impractical. Put young kids and a child with a disability in the mix and it’s a disaster! (It’s actually one of the reasons I’ve been putting off a Bali trip of our own for the last couple of years). You’ve confirmed what I imagined! So interesting to hear your explanations behind it.
    Deb @ Bright and Precious recently posted..The Blossom TreeMy Profile

    • Jill August 30, 2012 at 11:12 pm #


      And yep, we couldn’t have managed Bali without our ergo baby slings.

  8. Genia Stephen October 13, 2012 at 2:45 am #

    What carrier are you using? We stopped using a carrier a couple of years ago because we couldn’t find one that worked anymore. That’s awesome!

    • Jill October 15, 2012 at 8:05 pm #

      Its an Ergo. Its just a little too small for Sparky now, but that’s because of her height not her weight. I’m thinking of getting a piece sewn in in India for extra support. Its great for about 2 hours at a time.


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    […] constantly, otherwise they eat weird stuff and fall out windows. (We’ve found much of Asia to be unbaby-safe […]

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