Indonesia – Thoughts so far

Well now, where to begin. We left France 10 days ago, and we’re in a whole new world. The flights were decent, and Brandon managed to stock up on Yorkshire teabags before we left the UK, so no fear there. We had a long wait in Singapore airport (almost 15 hours between flights) and we ended up sleeping on some airport chairs. However once we actually passed through security on our way to the lounge, we noticed there were big lounging chairs specifically for taking a nap on! Ah well, lesson learnt, it’s only a back. Who really needs it.

The initial hotel that we’d booked was a disappointment, there were, ahem, excrement stains on the toilet, and the “kitchenette” was literally a sink on a shelf. We saw another, far better looking hotel room (with a proper kitchen) and wanted to book that. The cancellation fee for the other hotel through booking.com would have been 2,400,000 IDR (around £122) but I proposed to the owner that seeing as I wasn’t happy I’d only pay 1,800,000 IDR. He accepted this, on the condition that I ‘do not leave a bad review’ which I agreed too. Cheeky huh. But anyway, this new hotel is much nicer and way larger, for only a slight cost more than the previous one, so we’re happy boys.

Bali

First off let me just say, you should definitely come here, this place is amazing. We’ve learnt a lot in a week already, and are making an effort to Duolingo Indonesian for a few hours each day so that we can at least make an attempt to say a few phrases to the locals. Despite this surely being such a tourist hotspot the locals are super interested to see white people just wandering around. Because we’ve gone somewhat budget but not at all close to the beach (an hours walk away), we suspect that not a lot of tourists stay where we seem to be. You get a lot of looks when walking down the street, and a noticeable number of people wave and shout out “hello!” to you. The most interesting that we’ve had so far has been when we went to a laundrette to get some washing done and the lady there insisted she take photos of us with her daughter. Being Western is desirable here it seems, you have children waving at you from across the road and yelling “hello!”, and it feels like a dramatic cowboy entrance into a saloon whenever you walk into a small shop, with the locals all turning to look at you. Mayhaps all they see is a big walking wallet, but hey whatever keeps them friendly is A-OK with me.

The weather is unsurprisingly hot and humid, sitting around 30 degrees celsius each day, and dropping down to a positively freezing 24 degrees during the nighttimes. A walk around the local area will result in a shower afterwards to remove the sweat, and probably a change of clothes. To this point you actually don’t see an awful amount of people walking around. Though this could also be because there are basically no paths here, and when there are the floor simply has giant holes in it or massive steps for no reason. I often think when I walk around foreign countries “how would a wheelchair get around here?!” when I see cars parked on pavements or pavements with no slopes. But here? Yeah you’ve simply got no chance, even if you’re not in a wheelchair if you are disabled in a way that makes walking on uneven terrain a struggle, do yourself a favour and do NOT walk anywhere, because frankly you won’t get beyond a driveway.

If you did choose to walk around however you must be aware of various risks to your person, from the killer pavements, to the stray dogs that wander the streets and bark at scooters (so basically never stop barking). The lack of paths forces you to walk along the side of the road, which is akin to balancing on a beam on which one side is a stream of disgusting draining water, and the other is a stream of beeping scooters and overloaded trucks, being driven by people who would fail a drivers test in the west by the end of the facilities driveway. 

The lawless roads are not as much chaotic are they are just an utter mess. I’d say I’m surprised that they stop at red lights, but literally not all of them do, and so my surprise is by this point in my stay gone. It is replaced with a sense of wonder as to how every single person on the roads does not die every single day that they travel, and the suspicion that there may be a reason I’ve not seen many old people around.

On the plus side, maybe, however is that transport around this beeping metropolis is extremely easy and to hand. As a westerner be prepared to reject many offers of taxis just whilst walking down the road to the shop, and do some research on how much a reasonable price for a journey is so as not to get ripped off. I now realise that the airport pick-up that cost me 150,000 IDR (£7.60) was actually a rip off, considering I can see now that a taxi from my current location to the airport would be charged at around 40,000 IDR (£2.07) from my new favourite app, Go-jek.

GO-JEK – This is my new favourite toy. Oh boy, you think Uber is handy and cheap? Think again friends. Imagine if you will that the road is 100 vehicles. 90 of them are scooters, 5 are cars, and the rest are trucks or something else that you don’t want to be transported it (unless you like being transported in trucks, there is no judgement here). Now of those 90 scooters, 40 of them are also part-time Go-Jek employees, and can be summoned at a moment’s notice via the app. Maybe around 2 of the cars also. Not only can you hop on a scooter or jump in a car for your transport needs, these people are also your delivery drivers should you order food from the app. You can ask them to go to the shop for you with your shopping list and it’ll be delivered to you right then and there, you can send a parcel across the city, order a massage, or a haircut. I’ll be making a separate article entirely on the Go-Jek app because honestly it’s blown my mind. And the cost?! Well now, you recall I mentioned the Beach was around an hours walk away? Well according to the app it’s 4.9km away. With a Go-Jek car they would charge me 21,000 IDR (£1.07). A scooter would cost me 9000 IDR! That’s £0.46, to go pretty much 5km! This place is insane. I love it.

Bali has hugely impressed me. Its people are so friendly and happy, the food is delicious and EVERYWHERE, and the city never sleeps. If I walk out at 3am the traffic would be just as mental, there would be food stalls open and shops flogging their wares. We like it so much we’ve casually been looking at how much a monthly rent is here, and the amount we’d need to make to be comfortable living here (it isn’t much guys. Seriously.)

Here are some top tips for your travels to Bali if you feel inspired:

  • Find breathable clothing, shorts and T-shirts and loose fitting ones at that
  • Shower once you’ve gotten inside and are feeling sweaty. This will help prevent the bug bites!
  • Don’t buy anything at the beaches if you know you’ve seen it elsewhere. The price hike is beyond crazy as they rely on tourists not knowing price conversions
  • If you do buy from a more tourist shop, HAGGLE! You’ll definitely be able to get the product for at most 50% of what they originally stated, probably less if you are determined. 
  • Remember, there are ALWAYS other shops selling the same stuff.
  • Use the Go-jek app for your transport
  • Check out where the locals eat. If it looks busy, it’s good! Don’t head to the mcdonalds, try the local food and be amazed (also way cheaper!)
  • Do your research into etiquette so you don’t offend anyone. For example you don’t use your left hand for waving to someone, or handing money to them etc because it’s offensive (you use your left hand to wipe your butt!)
  • Don’t spend all your time at the beach. Sure it’s beautiful but you’ll get lot’s more memorable experiences just looking around markets and interacting with people

Safe to say the journey is going well, but what’s really unbelievable is that we have another 4 countries to go to, with totally different cultures and foods and cities to experience. Follow our youtube for both mine and Brandons adventures in South East Asia, and Carl and Fyns travels through Europe in the van.

Should you wish to check out South East Asia for yourself, check out Etihad airways (Non UK based readers link here) to get the best deals for your amazing journey!

Hope you enjoy reading, and feel free to contact us at our facebook or twitter page.

Love, Danny


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