Buying alcohol in Bali

Speaking of buying alcohol, it’s strange here. When you go to a grocery store, the alcohol (excluding beer) is in a separate section. In the grocery store in Ubud, it looks like how you’d see jewelry being sold in the US — it’s in a glass case with a clerk standing behind it. Except in this case, there’s four clerks squeezed behind a counter about 6 feet long.

You tell them what you want and one of the clerks starts filling out the paperwork while another opens the case and gets the bottles you ordered. The paperwork takes a while, so the other three clerks tend to just stand there. This is something you see in socialist countries — restaurants routinely have more staff than customers, for example.

Once the paperwork is filled out, you get a copy and you take that to the cashier. The cashier then leaves the register and goes back to the alcohol counter to get your order. By this time, the two bottles of wine had a rubber band around them with another copy of the paperwork attached to them.

At the other place we bought alcohol (the Walmart-like place), the process was similar. But we could actually walk into the section and pick up the bottles we wanted. As we left, a woman standing there stops us, takes the bottles, fills out the paperwork, gives you a copy and you are allowed to take the bottles to the cashier yourself. Another difference was that the alcohol section only had the good wine and other alcohol. Cheaper wine and beer was available in a totally different location in the store.

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