Indonesia is a country of contrasts with arguably it’s most iconic images being of Bali, a predominantly Hindu island in the middle of the most populous Muslim country on earth. It has stunning sunsets and equally stunning traffic. For a backpacker, it offers some wonderful opportunities to explore exotic islands or just lounge on the beach for a few days.
We spent three weeks at the very beginning of our year long voyage taveling from Bali to Jakarta overland.
In the sphere of cutlery, the first world has a known and preferred pecking order. First comes the fork with its piercing, scooping and sometimes even cutting thrusts. In the silverware section, the fork takes a backseat to no one.
Next comes the knife. Half of everything is served too large to be consumed in one piece. The answer has always been a sharp blade. Preferably with a solid gripping handle.
When Susana and I originally planned the first leg of our trip, Indonesia wasn’t in the plans. We were scheduled to land in Bangkok and then proceed to Cambodia and Vietnam from there. The flooding in Thailand changed our minds and left us looking for another destination to let Thailand dry out for a bit. We picked Indonesia mostly based on the beaches of Bali.
Our one night in Jakarta was spent in a fun hotel called Max One located just south of the train station and national monument. The hotel aesthetic is almost like a childs play room with lots of vibrant colors. Given the convenient location and average price for a downtown hotel in Jakarta, I would recommend it to others.
We stayed in the standard room which came with a/c and a queen bed and a flat screen TV. Fancy stuff for us.
Moving on from Yogyakarta, our next stop was the industrial town of Bandung. There is not much to get excited about Bandung. It is gritty and is submerged in an endless sea of motor vehicle traffic. Our reason to stop was to climb up Tangkuban Prahu. Having not gone to Bromo or any other volcano climb, Bandung offered us the last opportunity.
The first place you will visit in Yogyakarta is almost certainly going to be the Sultan Palace. And I suspect you will be disappointed. The palace, pushed by every tout in town, is not worth the price of admission and it is very inexpensive.
The Temples of Borobudur and Prambanan are favorite day trip destinations when in Yogyakarta. And for good reason. Both are very impressive sites. In particular, I found Borobudur fantastic in subtle ways and would strongly recommend at least to visit it if not both. Beyond the monuments, we also had a lot of fun speaking with the local school children and helping them to practice a bit of english.
You spot them a mile away; a group of young children heading your way. Your eyes lock in across the distance. Your palms go sweaty and heart rate jumps. ‘Options’ you think to yourself. ‘I need options!’. Unfortunately you dont have many. You brace for a hard sell and practice that persistent ‘No thank you. I dont need any’ oft repeated defense phrase. Just stick to your guns and you’ll be fine. you think. The children swarm around you, smiling. Brace for impact!
The first stop on our round-the-world journey started in the Kuta-Legian-Seminyak area in southern Bali. It is the biggest resort area on the island and boasts of some of the finest beaches around, great surf and a plethora of nightlife.
This is the place to be if you’re looking to party, catch waves or be pampered at 5-star resorts. If, however, you’re looking for the chilled and spiritual Bali from [amazon_link id="0143038419" target="_blank" ]Eat, Pray, Love[/amazon_link], head over to Ubud in the heart of Bali instead.
Here are some more sample videos from the Gamelan and Dance, in Ubud, Bali. Enjoy.