When it comes time to pre-game for a new country, I like to check the facts. You know, the detailed, broad-level statistics that are mostly useless: demographics, import/export ratios, the president’s name, etc.
So before I entered Indonesia, all I knew was that it’s massive, and diverse, culturally and biologically.
The essence of a country lies not just in the land, but in her people. Attempting to put a metric on a nation is challenging and unfair, but I’ve found peoples’ smiles are the best window to a nation’s character.
Not just the number of smiles like in Thailand, but the warmth behind them like in Indonesia.
I don’t know if the shocking beauty or tremendous scale of this land are more to like, but the warmth and hospitality of her people caught me most by surprise. A rapidly developing country full of curiosity and excitement, the energy there is electric.
Although the month I spent in Indonesia felt tragically short, it was enough time for me to start uttering that familiar line I hear from travelers around the world:
Simply put, Flores is one of the most interesting and hospitable islands in the Indonesian archipelago, if not the world. The flavor and diversity of life in Flores is astounding, even against any island I’ve visited before. Highlights include Gunung Kelimutu, Komodo Dragons and world class snorkeling and diving.
One of the best things to do in Bali is get a bike and get the hell outta Kuta / Ubud. The more remote, less crowded areas of the island are truly amazing. Check out my Balinese road trip:
Highlights featured in the video: Babi Guling in Muduk, Denpasar, mountains near Munduk, Bunut Bolong (a tunnel through a tree), fresh coffee at Ngiring Ngewedang, the Hindu Temple Tanah Lot and sunset at Pantai Berawa.
There are tons of busses and ferries to get around Bali and between the neighboring islands. Of course Merpati, Sky Aviation and Lion Air are good choices for flights within Indonesia. I hear Batavia Air has plane crashes on the reg so watch out for them!
If you want to stay in the south, look for places in Seminyak to be close to the clubs or do a homestay in Canggu for a quieter, local experience.
The cheapest place to stay near Ubud is in Bona, at Ketut and Geks House. Their homestay was some of the friendliest hospitality I ever had to pay for and their village life so close to Ubud is really interesting. For 150,000 Rp. you get your own house with a bathroom, kitchen, living room and porch. With three sleeping surfaces, your stay could be quite cheap if you split it.
Ketut and Gek are really friendly hosts, a real pleasure to stay with.
My other recommendation in Bali is close to Negara. Hotel CSB is the “mellow surfers retreat” in the town of Pekutatan. One room with two beds costs 75,000 Rp. The hosts are nice and you can rent a surfboard for 50,000 Rp. a day (better than Kuta’s 50,000 Rp. per hour).
The view from the room: about 100 meters away is an empty beach with nice breakers.
Eats & Drinks
There’s a huge variety of foods in Bali. Areas in and around Kuta have just about anything you can think of, but the prices tend to be pretty high, in the 50,000 Rp.+ range. But the warungs throughout the island offer all kinds of good Indonesia food for about 10,000 Rp.
Babi Guling, a Balinese traditional slow pig roast can’t be missed.
The undisputed king of Babi Guling is Selingsing Cepaka, found in Buduk, just north of Canggu on the way to Tabanan. It’s down some backroads and really hard to describe where it is so you might have to find someone who already knows to reach this place. They open at 4am and close at 6am so get there early before the pig’s devoured.
At the core this traditional Balinese plate (or sack) is just a hodgepodge of pig parts. Lawar as it’s called in Indonesian is a mixture of pig meat, skin and blood. Don’t write it off as disgusting till you try it. Somehow these elements wrap around each other to create a surprising fusion of flavor.
It all starts here the night before: a Babi Guling (suckling pig) roast.
If you don’t wake up early enough (or stay up late enough) for the actual pig roast, you can still find Nasi Babi Guling in the morning. Open her up and you’ll find a nice medley of different foods.
My sack revealed rice, lawar, krupuk (pig skin)—the yellow stuff, and spinach and beans.
One of the biggest and culturally/biologically diverse countries on the planet, Indonesia deserves so much more than the standard 60 day tourist visa. Befriending a local to sponsor a longer stay is a must!
Welcome to the world’s largest archipelago state (more than 17,500 islands), largest Muslim state and fourth most populous country. It’s an unbelievably beautiful land of idyllic beaches, primary rainforests and stunning volcanoes. The landscape is generally made up of coastal lowlands, but the larger islands are dominated by interior mountains (the highest point of the country is at 4884m or 16,117ft, much higher than any point in the continental US). Every major island has its own unique flavor and feel, with different dominant religions and languages on each. The fact that so many diverse areas and peoples have been incorporated under one nation is quite a feat. Now the government is challenged to simultaneously create even economic distribution through remote areas while maintaining conservation efforts in diverse and abundant resource basins. The beauty, the challenges to travel and the shockingly privileged role of white foreigners make Indonesia one of my favorite destinations in Southeast Asia.
Unfulfilled by consumer lifestyles, I left on a really slow trip around the world. As a 3rd eye traveler on the New American Dream, my aim is to inspire and cultivate conscious living along the way....Read More...