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The Best and Worst of Indonesia

INDONESIA | Monday, 5 September 2011 | Views [4551]

A panoramic view of layering rice fields in Tabanan

A panoramic view of layering rice fields in Tabanan

First of all: no, Bali is not the only thing we could offer here. The faces of the land is an immense delight, and the diverse cultures, as well as their colorful traditional ceremonies and customary life really are adorable. But Indonesia is an equatorial maritime country; it has more than thirteen thousand islands separated by seas and straits, and each part of the land has much more of an adventure and experience i could really jumble in one summary. Nor even, i may say, our 742 range of different ethnic languages and dialects. But let's start my list of the best and worst thing you may run into in Indonesia.

Best of Indonesia

Traditional Hospitality

Photo by Tanenhaus

As individual as it could get for modern people in big cities as Jakarta or Bandung, i may guarantee that you will, at some point, experience surprising humble welcomes and treatments in places and from people you might not expect. Maybe, a glass of jamu—a traditional herbal nutrition drink—at a remote house of an old Javanese farmer in your intercity trip? Be prepared, also, to kindly respond to the common invitation for an overnight stay in their modest wooden houses.

Edible Adventures

Oily and red. Picture by Mama Tamy

Be it spicy, greasy and savoury as can be; Indonesia’s traditional food ranging wide throughout the archipelago, and it’s charming. Indulge your journey experience with Nasi Padang’s playful combinations of spices in West Sumatra, or maybe a Sulawesi tender grilled fish (yes, you may pick your own fish in Sulawesi’s floating market) in a hot soy gravy. Now, pay close attention on what you’re eating and how they’re made: somehow, you could learn a lot about the rich culture from foods they are serving.

Inexpensive Indulgence

Indonesia provides a thrifty way to spend money on your travel. Cheap city hostels in Jakarta or Lombok village homestays? Check. Budget-friendly food feast in a great portion and a nice domestic beer in Bali? Check. Low-cost transportation from Bandung to Surabaya? Check! Be sure, of course, you have double-checked what all those budgeting options could really offer you from a trustworthy reference.

But then again, this third-world country still has some unpreparedness in welcoming foreign travelers to its cities. Here are things you may have to prepare yourself just in case:

Complicated Administrations

The immigration sections in the airport could be the first thing you can learn about adminitrations in Indonesia. But that is not the only problematical encounter: ticketings in tourist places, tourism informations, emergency calls and their operations, and don’t forget the dealings with police if you’re out of luck: they tend to over-complicate things. Learn yourself some basic Bahasa Indonesia just in case you bump into those mumbo-jumbo.

The Not-Really-There Tippings

How are we notorious, mostly even to ourselves, with under the table transaction cultures spreading viral in every general service you may find the need, here in Indonesia. You will surely have to allocate some of your budget in small changes of Rupiahs for those, say, charges over car-parking (which could literally be anywhere you’ll find it somehow laughable), the seemingly sincere young men helping you out with your dead rented car, or any other false generosity. You can always politely decline their helps, but then again— it’s a confusing hospitality.

Living in The Sprawl

As the most populous island in the world, you may find it hard to establish silence and peaceful mind in Java. Say, Jakarta, with its traffic trouble every single day. People here may have their own way in facing their demon everyday in the streets, but this bedlam could be rather depressing if you’re new to it. Malls and tourist places are as crowded as the city slums, people jumble themselves up in commuters and public buses—prepare yourself well.

Tags: #blogyourbackyard, indonesia, review

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