Indonesia has a special place in my heart, as it was the first country I “Really” traveled through. From a young age the love and necessity of travel was drilled into me. I grew up listening to stories, of my mum backpacking through Mexico, going weeks without a word of English, My dad sleeping on the beaches of Asia, living off 11c a day, and my uncle chancing a monkey through the African desert that had stolen his very valuable box of Weetbix’s, (the best Aussie cereal in existence) only to realise he that they had seen a cheater in the area 20 minutes earlier, and promptly returned to his camp defeated and empty handed. As such my first visit to Indonesia had more forest treks, out door squat “toilets” and bamboo beds and than it did beaches, hot showers and banana splits. This trip is where I contracted the incurable “Travel Bug” that 60 countries latter I have not yet shock and hope never to. Having recently returned to Indonesia I have developed a new appreciation and perspective. One thing that hit me almost immediate is how much the country and changed a developed, It is not the same Indonesia I visited as a school kid, this is why you need to visit It NOW, not next year, not when you retire, not when you win the lottery or quit that crappy job, you’ve been talking about leaving for past two years, Now!
Every day we are loosing more and more of Indonesia’s rainforests, little villages, and culture to modern development and Tourism. Have a look at my ‘leave the right footprint’ post to learn how important it is to be a conscious and considerate traveller.
For starters Indonesia is made up of over 17,508 islands! That mean if you were to visit a different island every day it would take you almost half a century to get through them all. I’m going to make a wild guess and assume you don’t have a spare 50 years to travel Indonesia, so here’s a breakdown on what you should expect while exploring this crazy country.
You can’t talk about Indonesia with out mentioning the notorious Bali. Bali is on almost everyone’s bucked list, and so it should be, it’s an amazing place. Bali has become a major tourist attraction, and as such it is extremely tourist friendly, there is countless hotels, restaurants, activities, and markets selling everything from wooden penis bottle openers (Why are these everywhere is bali, just why???) to high-end fashion (Same, same, but different).
Additionally there is 101 different activity’s that are made extremely ease to book, with a tourist office, or a couple on every street, making it a very desirable place to spend a week snorkeling, partying and getting amazing massages at.
But don’t get stuck, its very, very easy to find that time has just slipped away and before you know it you’re a leathery 60 year old that never returned, chilled Bail lifestyle having absorbed any desire to return to reality.
So get out of Bail and try out Bali’s neighbour; the Island of Java. If the first thing you think of when you’re here Java is coffee your on the right track. Indonesia is the 4th largest producer of coffee and most of that is grown in Java, so make sure you try out an espresso or two while you’re there, or better yet go for a coffee tour around a plantation and learn how the globes most widely used drug is goes from cherry to the sweet nectar of life residing in your mug.
As we head east, and away from the tourist hot spots the first thing you’ll notice is a change in the people. As we’ve established you’re a “hardcore traveller” and enjoy getting into remote areas, but like anything else this comes with a few complications and consequences. Remember when you were a child and wished you where famous, well your dreams have come true, through only in this reality you have all the fame and next to none of the skills and talent. There’s going to be a lot of cat calling and a lot of photos and your going to get bloody pissed off. Try hard to remember that to them your just as rare as seeing Justin Bieber or Kim Kardashian walking down the street, and if you can say you wouldn’t be wiping out your phone and grabbing a few shots, then you’re a liar and can’t be trusted, because you would, you and I both know it.
This kind of sucks, but take it with a grain of salt because it’s absolutely worth the visit. Java has some truly amazing sights unlike anywhere else. Check out Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Prambana and Kawah Putih. Get your bargaining on and hire a driver to take you around, I recommend starting real early like 4am early (Crazy, I know) this way you can skip the clouds, get more out of your day and get to watch the amazing sunrise over the mountains.
Next stop… Sumatra.
Sumatra is just as cool as it sounds, but if you think the attention was too much in Java ‘you ain’t seen nothing yet’. You’ve been bumped up from Justin Beiber to the Queen of England, none the less, you’re a ‘hardcore traveler’ and can handle it.
You can’t visit Sumatra with out spending so time at Lake Toba. It a bit of a pain in the ass to get to but do it you wont regret it. So Sumatra is an island and at its cater is the worlds biggest volcanic lake, Lake Toba and at its centre is another island ‘Samosir’ and to make things even trippyer there’s another lake at its centre with another Island in that. After about an 8 hour bus from Medan, and a 30minute ferry and a 10minute motor bike ride you will find your self in a 5 start cabin watching the sunset over the lake with a cocktail with a little umbrella in one hand selfie stick in the other, cause lets face it, did you even go travelling if no one see’s your cliché selfie pop up on their social media with a few #wonderlust #Moday #lovelife #followforfollow hashtags.
So that’s three islands done, only 17,505 to go.