Admittedly, Indonesia is out of my travel comfort zone. Why? For one, the driving conditions leave a visitor completely and utterly overwhelmed. Based on our own personal experiences, driving in Bali leaves you breathless, white knuckled and stupefied. Secondly, I am a spoiled, suburban white chick and Indonesia has pockets of poverty. Seeing others with so little, and knowing you have so much is an uncomfortable truth. So now you know the truth. It is out there.
But, is being out of your comfort zone bad? Heck no!
Traveling is about getting out there and exploring. Traveling is about getting honked at, getting yelled at, getting over your prejudices of poor people. Traveling is seeing true humility and need in the begging man on the street corner and then the feeling of true compassion and thankfulness when you give away the granola bar you were going to eat when you got “hungry.”
Yes, Indonesia is out of my comfort zone, but traveling to and through Bali, Indonesia has given me a case wanderlust for other islands in Indonesia, mainly the island of Java. Yes, it is hot and humid, but I am a Florida girl, so I feel right at home in that kind of heat. Yes, it takes a flipping long time to get here. But you know what? I want to go back. It might be because I like coffee, but here are some of my other thoughts on the matter.
Follow me as I list my top 5 reasons for traveling in Indonesia.
The Culture – Talk about culture shock! I am a white, Christian who has an advanced degree and owns my own business. Could I be any more opposite that most of the Indonesian women? While I do not believe in their gods, learning about their faith and touring their places of worship was beautiful. Seeing women dress in a very specific, traditional way made me appreciate my ability to wear whatever I want. Watching men doing the back-breaking work of harvesting rice made me appreciate my air-conditioned office. Indonesia is different from Western culture; it is the best kind of culture shock that I look forward to re-experiencing.
The Hotels – Oh em gee! You can stay in any kind of hotel you want in Indonesia. There are chain hotels in the big city of Jakarta like this one, you can go to this site for a great resort and spa in the city of Bogor, or here for yoga retreat in smaller towns like Yogyakarta (what a fitting name!), and bed and breakfasts in mountains of Malang. Y’all know my prissy feelings about hostels, but there are some of those too! Plus, with the currency exchange I feel like we Americans get a lot more hotel for a lot less cash. I am excited to splurge on a room somewhere swanky when we go back!
The Jungles – Indonesia is similar to Florida because of its beaches, humidity and cyclones (hurricanes). But, on the flip side, Florida has scrub brush and cypress forests. Indonesia has rain forests. Glorious forests home to exotic plants and animals that are, once again, so different from everything we see here in The States. The jungles are not far from the cities either, in most cases. This means you do not have to spend the night with the mosquitoes if you do not want to.
The Food – Chicken on a stick was foreign to me before traveling in Indonesia. Scratch that, I have made kebabs on the grill. OK, maybe Indonesians do it better. I throw BBQ sauce on mine. They have complex spices and herbs to season theirs in a way that packs so much flavor into every bite. And their rice? It is always perfect; mine is always sticky. And how do they get the rice to stay in the conical shape for Tumpeng? It is just fascinatingly delicious. Plus, you cannot forget about their coffee and tea. Do Sumatra and Java ring a bell?
The People – I think the people of a certain place can make or break it. For example, a man legitimately followed us on the streets of Chiang Mai and as much as I loved the elephants and temples and food of that city, this fact completely tarnished my view on the city. On the other hand, the Indonesian people, when not driving a vehicle, are laid back, kind souls. We saw a big difference in just how laid back the people were when staying in the more rural areas, versus the cities. But I think that is true for most places. We had farmers smile and wave to us as we walked the rice fields. Our servers in restaurants were attentive and sweet. The staff at the hotels were so welcoming and helpful. Truly, the people of Bali are representative of the Indonesian people as a whole. Who wouldn’t want to explore more?
I think these 5 (stellar, awesome, honest and ridiculously great) reasons to visit Indonesia are true for most places. There is not a particular site or city I want to visit in Indonesia. I just want to experience their culture, hospitality, nature, cuisine, and people through walks, talks, hiking and biking. I want to return to Indonesia to face being slightly uncomfortable; just the opposite of what most vacationers want. But if I am completely honest, I will do this from the comfort of a resort like Pesona Alam Resort and Spa, just sayin’!
Hey! You can take the girl out of the suburbs, but you can’t take the suburbs out of the girl. 😉