So this is a little introduction to our trip. We get asked many of the same questions when we come home. The main one being, why Indonesia? So I thought I'd answer the common questions we are always asked and then I can get started on our trip city by city.
• Why Indonesia?
Well to be completely honest, we weren't going to go to Indonesia at first choice, we were going to go to Africa. I've always wanted to go there so I planned out our entire trip with a route ready to go. As we were going to purchase our tickets I kept having Indonesia pop-up in the back of my mind. I just wanted one good last cultural, adventurous experience for our "last summer" of our lives. We had good family friends who lived in Indonesia for 2 years who only had good things to say about it ... and I must admit that their wall of Indonesian wooden masks maybe convinced me more than anything. So then I kinda backtracked and read more about Indonesia; I realized that we could see more in a shorter amount of time and then we decided... Indonesia it was!! We also thought going to Africa with a purpose would be a better trip for us, so when Landon becomes a doctor we will hopefully go to Africa for medical missions.
• Do they speak English there?
Indonesia is made up of 17,000 islands, they have their national speaking language as well as regional languages depending on what island you are on. We traveled to 4 different islands and as we felt like we "knew & remembered" the important words, we would fly to the next island and realize nothing was the same! On each island there were always some people who spoke good English but compared to India, we found that there weren't as many people there (besides the tourist-focused locals) that could really speak it. There were times where they couldn't understand us at all, so we would use our hands to speak or write down numbers to bargain on things to buy.
• How was the food?
To be completely honest, I wasn't the biggest fan. Landon and I were dreaming up of the spiciest meals and at our disappointment, it was never spicy enough. For a week straight (and many times after that) we had fried rice for lunch and dinner, so I was really sick of it by the end of our trip.
But to end with some positives... I am the biggest seafood-ie ever so I loved eating fish and fresh seafood on Bali and the Gili Islands. They would fry the entire fish with everything intact (besides the guts) and that was my favorite meal. The crispy fish skin and the flaky flesh on the inside...mmm I'm just getting hungry thinking about it, I could eat it everyday. Landon's favorite meal was the sate (sa-tay) which was chicken & lamb kabobs cooked on charcoals until charred and crispy. They then would smother them with molasses, hot sauce & peanut sauce. I was weary in the beginning of the raw chicken laying around for hours and always just passed up eating them, but at our last city I tried them and loved them too. So crispy, rich and spicy.
• How did you travel from island to island?
I hope someone out there reading this figured, oh you just traveled by boat from island to island? Well that's what we figured but didn't realize it wasn't as convenient or the cheapest way all the time. We ended up flying from Singapore to Sumatra, then Sumatra to Java, and then from there we took the cheap route and drove on a bus to the coast to finally take a ferry to Bali, and then from Bali to the Gili Islands we paid more than we wanted and took a speed boat. We didn't take the flights into consideration for our budget so that kinda bummed us out.
• How was the cost of living, was it cheap to travel?
I will start out by saying, we travel cheap. Instead of tourist air conditioned buses or private cars, we would rather go the local under $1 sweat-your-brains-out, cram in a metal box on wheels head ache route. And Indonesia was perfect for that in some ways, others not so much. It was cheaper to live there compared to India for the US dollar, but as we got to Bali and the Gili Islands all the food and housing sky-rocketed to a higher price we weren't really pleased with paying. Our cheapest hostel we stayed at was $5 a night in the jungle and our most expensive place we stayed at was $25 a night on the Gili Islands, and that was one of the cheaper ones we could find. On the island of Java we were able to buy meals for $1-2 and I think the most we paid for a meal was $20 at a fancy restaurant. So the beginning of our trip we were able to travel very cheap but as we got to the more touristy populated areas our planned budget was put to side, unfortunately.
• What was my favorite part about our trip?
It's hard to pick one experience and rank it at my favorite because they were all so different but the one that stuck out to me the most was our experience hiking up to the Madakaripura Waterfalls. There were no tourists, it was well off the beaten track and it was used by the locals as a place to meditate. I had found in on the internet while I was planning for our trip and I had starred it as a must see. I will go much more in detail when I post about it, but it was quite the experience that Landon and I will never forget.
• What was my favorite thing I brought home?
MASKS!! Wooden, colorful masks! I have this weird obsession with masks, I just love faces, I love taking pictures of them, I love drawing and painting them so it just makes sense that I love masks. I essentially wanted to go to Africa and just bring home a crate load of hand-carved sculptures and masks, African art influence is probably the most inspiring thing to me. But when I found out about the Indonesian masks I got excited and came home with 30 wooden masks! I sacrificed and carried a tall skinny 3 ft. mask everywhere we went for more than half of our trip. It was wrapped in a brown paper bag and it always made me hungry for baguettes. Landon was a trooper and bought me another suitcase to fill, he lugged around that heavy thing for half of our trip, with very little complaining I might add.
• What camera gear did you bring?
I brought the bare minimum again, my 5D body, a 50mm lens for mostly all the shots I will be showing and a wide angle to get the temples/buildings and just for memories sake. Oh and we brought my waterproof crappy digital camera that broke our first time snorkeling, of course that would happen.