“If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion, and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”
– James A. Michener –
Sadly, our trip is now over. This usually means that we are already planning a new one, but to really give you an overview of this past trip, we would like to share a small recap.
Indonesia is an archipelago with more than 18.000 islands stretching from the Indian ocean to the west of Malaysia all the way to the northern most tip of eastern Australia, a population of over 240 million (the fourth most populous in the world) and a multitude of languages, religions and landscapes. It has 130 active volcanoes and some of the best dive sites in the world. It’s the only country in the world, where the Komodo dragons live. If your favorite color is green, you’ll be thrilled by the rice fields around almost every corner. Indonesia is very affordable (at least for western standards). It’s also a very safe country. It’s suitable for backpackers, as well as the ones, who are after resort accommodation. Indonesia is great if you want to visit well traveled destinations (Bali or Gili islands) and even better if you want to wonder off the beaten track. There’s something for every taste!
Where have we been?
We visited Nusa Lembongan, flew to Labuan Bajo, went on a multi day boat trip from Flores to Lombok, stayed on Gili Trawangan and visited Gili Meno. Than we went to Bali, where we stayed in Ubud and in Jimbaran (Bukit peninsula). We spent our last day in Jakarta.
What we loved the most?
- Swimming with manta rays for the first time! It was a long lasting dream come true 🙂
- The tranquility of Nusa Lembongan. It was the best possible introduction to our Indonesian trip.
- Seeing rice terraces for the first time. We could lose ourselves in all the green. It was definitely one of the highlights.
- The fact that Indonesia is very affordable country. We even afford ourselves quite some luxuries and in the end we didn’t spend a lot.
- Talking to the local people. Everybody was really friendly and helpful.
- Getting up close to the famous Komodo dragons as well as hiking in Komodo National park. It has unique scenery. At times you feel like you’re in the middle of African savanna and at others like you’re in a tropical rainforest.
- The boat trip from Flores to Lombok. We really got to see the beautiful underwater world and all the uninhabited islands.
- Mmmm the food. Food in Indonesia is very diverse, but mainly it’s similar to the other SE Asian food. So if you like food in Thailand, Malaysia…, you will enjoy it here. Food prices vary between regions and restaurants, but in general, it’s very cheap. What’s better than spicy Indonesian rice first thing in the morning? 🙂
- Indonesians aren’t really animal lovers. There are a lot (really a lot) of abandoned cats and dogs wondering around every island and all the towns. We love animals and at times it was heartbreaking to see the poor animals struggling to get a piece of food.
- Indonesia is beautiful, but it won’t be forever, if they’ll continue throwing garbage everywhere. They burn their garbage as well…
- Even though we liked the boat trip from Flores to Lombok, it was also one of the scariest moments of our lives. At night, when we found ourselves in the middle of thunderstorm on a very unsafe small slow boat and the captain even lost direction, we thought to ourselves that it was the worst decision ever to go on that trip. When we look back, it wasn’t that bad. We still wouldn’t go again on that boat, but it was the best way to see the islands, Komodo dragons and to snorkel in Komodo National park. It was a highlight as well as the lowlight.
- We were very disappointed by the seafood found on Gili Trawangan. Almost all the restaurants, as well as the night food market, were selling very old fish. Usually locals, living by the sea, sell fresh seafood, since the sea isn’t far and they go fishing every day.
- I (Gašper) had a few problems with digestion. I don’t know what the reason was, but I suspect ice. Luckily it was not so bad, so we could enjoy our trip without any problems.
Our Indonesia in numbers
- Days on trip: 18
- Money spent: 19.000.000 IDR (1.600 EUR)
- Domestic flights: 3
- Islands visited: 12
- Boat trips: 7 (1 long distance)
- Different accommodation: 7
- Great snorkeling experiences: 6
- Manta encounters: 3!
- Sea turtle encounters: 3
- Taxi transports offered: 17.315.247 (seriously a lot)
- Rice consumed: a few kilograms
- Bintangs drank: too many
- Number of WOW moments: infinitive
- Travelers diarrhea: If you travel to Indonesia, you should make sure, that you have with you at least something for re-hydration in case of food poisoning and diarrhea. We got even some pills and antibiotics, but we didn’t use them. Spirits after each meal usually serve well as a cure against food poisoning. We practice it and it helps (ok, this time it failed, but it usually doesn’t).
- Transportation: For longer distances we arranged a private transport (a car with a driver). They are comfortable and not very expensive. You could probably get a shuttle service anywhere for a good price. For shorter trips or sightseeing, we rented a scooter and cruise around. You can get one very cheap (for around 3€ per day) and fuel is also cheap (1€ for full tank). We recommend renting a scooter if you want to see more. Taxi service can be a problem. We used a Blue Bird Company in Jakarta, but got ripped off by a driver anyway. In big cities, be sure that you use licensed taxi services. In Jakarta we also travelled by bus. It is good and safe, maybe a bit confusing at first, but you soon get used to the system. Just as a precaution, we didn’t use it at night.
- Malaria and antimalarials: We were in Indonesia in April, just after the rainy season. In our travel clinic, we were recommended to take antimalarials (we always use Malarones) at least for the time we spent around Flores and Lombok. We decided to eat antimalarials just for that period. If we were in Indonesia later (in dry season), we would reconsider taking them.
Go! It’s not that far…
Have you ever visited Indonesia? What were your pros and cons?