A few weeks ago I was living vicariously (and very enviously) through the Instagram posts and Snapchat stories of my brother and his girlfriend while they had the most amazing adventures in Indonesia. Brianne was kind enough to write up a post of their incredible trip to share with you all! Thanks B!
For over a year, my family has been saving and planning the trip of a lifetime in Indonesia. As a family, we’ve been to Indonesia a couple times before, but there was always an agenda planned for us by my family who lives there, leaving so many things left unexplored. This time, we wanted to plan our own trip, and we invited my boyfriend Jimmy along for the ride. Over the 21 days we spent in Indonesia, we experienced an incredible amount. With much excitement and anticipation, we left Denver at around noon, and after more than 20 hours of travel, we finally arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia at midnight. We rested in an airport hotel for around 5 hours, and woke up early the next morning to fresh Indonesian curry delivered to our room for breakfast.
After we ate, we were back on the tarmac, boarding another flight to Indonesia’s most popular tourist island, Bali.
Bali is home to some of the most beautiful architecture. Everything is built with immense detail – even toll booths on the highway.
Not long after, we arrived at our beach side hotel, where our Indonesian relatives were already checked in and waiting for us. Following our reunion hugs, we headed across the street to the beach, where the sun was setting.
We spent a few days in Bali, lounging on the beach munching on Balinese barbecue and sipping on fresh coconuts.
We also spent some time wandering the touristy shops that line the streets, where the price is however low you can haggle it. At night, we visited a great party spot, Finn’s Beach Club. Its bar located in the pool and live DJs make it the perfect place for dancing while you enjoy some refreshing alcoholic beverages.
One of our most memorable days in Bali was spent adventuring through a village town on ATVs.
The guide led us through the woods on muddy paths, roads surrounded by rice fields, and lastly a wet muddy trail that left all of our socks soaking, despite the rain boots they provided for us. We even stopped for a minute next to the rice fields where some sweet ladies smiled and waved at us “Bules.” Bule (pronounced boo-leh) is an Indonesian word used to describe foreigners – we quickly became accustomed to this description as we heard it pretty much everywhere we went.
Next, we visited one of Bali’s monkey forests.
In this forest, the locals have trained the monkeys to climb onto visitors for the reward of some peanuts.
There are other monkey forests in Bali that allow you to walk freely without a guide. Those forests sell you a bundle of bananas before you enter and as you walk through numerous monkeys will climb up your body to sit on your shoulders and get their bananas. Without a guide, you have to be much more careful not to have your valuables stolen by the monkeys. The forest we went to was a much more tame experience.
Our last Bali adventure was water sports in the ocean. We did some classic tubing then headed out on a boat to a floating dock where they geared us up in wet-suit shirts, water shoes, and these heavy helmets that allowed us to breathe underwater without oxygen tanks.
They led us down a ladder into the ocean, where guides would help your hands find the railings so that you could follow the path and keep your balance. Our depth perception was impaired with the helmets on, but other than that they were pretty comfortable. The guides handed us plastic baggies with sandwich bread inside which the fish would flock to once released in the water.
The next day, we split from the majority of our Indonesian family and headed to a new location, Yogyakarta.
We checked into our hotel, “the nicest hotel in Yogya,” as my cousin described it, and in my opinion the nicest place we stayed at in Indonesia.
After taking in the room’s incredible view of the city, we headed out to shop for some Batik (traditional Indonesian textiles) and then took a Horse Beca (pronounced beh-cha. The Indonesian equivalent of a horse carriage) to eat some traditional Yogya food: Gudeg.
I know Gudeg doesn’t look terribly appetizing, and the way it was served out of buckets on the floor in a tiny little shop definitely concerned me at first. After we began eating, all thoughts of uncertainty faded away and all I could think about was how delicious this chicken, jackfruit, egg and pork skin tasted. In the middle of our meal, this gentleman began playing the guitar and singing to a song that Jimmy and I had been singing since we arrived in Indonesia, Take Me Home, Country Roads by John Denver. We tipped our entertainment and headed back to the hotel where we got massages and coining treatments done at the beautiful spa in the hotel.
The next day, we headed to Borobodur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and the reason we were visiting Yogyakarta.
Upon admittance, the temple ensured no one had their shoulders or knees exposed; providing sarongs for anyone who did.
The same day, we boarded our 5th flight over the course of one week and headed to Bandung, my family’s hometown. Bandung greeted us with a rain shower, but luckily the airline staff provided everyone with umbrellas. In Indonesia, you get on and off the plane on the tarmac itself, not directly from the airport.
We spent the majority of our trip in Bandung. There, we were treated to many delicious meals and were taken to many incredible sights, so I’ll just touch on the highlights. The first beautiful place we visited was Lembang, a small mountain town with an adventure park.
On our way out, we also enjoyed some of the delicious treats the locals make, including Tofu Susu Lembang (milky tofu), and Lembang ice cream.
We stayed at my uncle’s home in the heart of Bandung. His rooftop view was incredible. They told us Bandung was like the Colorado of Indonesia.
In Indonesia, traffic is terrible, so most people prefer to ride motorcycles. There are no rules when it comes to lanes, everyone weaves in and out, pushing their vehicles through anywhere they will fit.
Something that makes Indonesia such an ideal travelling experience is the conversion rate. While we were there, 14,000 rupiah converted to 1 US dollar. We got multiple massages throughout the trip. Masseuses would travel to your home or hotel to massage you; with tip included, this typically cost around $12 USD.
We even had a spa day where everyone (men included) got mani/pedis and facials. Afterwards, we felt nice and fresh to eat dinner at my aunt’s traditional restaurant.
We then embarked on a 6 hour drive to Pangandaran beach, which was notably both the best and worst part of the trip.
Pangandaran was the most laid back and enjoyable part of our trip. The ocean was once again right across the street from our hotel, but here the waves were so huge there were designated swim areas and everyone was required to exit the water at 5pm. When we were kicked out of the ocean, we rented motorcycles and cruised through the town.
Pangandaran is a small beach town with much less traffic, and lots of seafood. So much seafood. Too much seafood. We stayed in Pangandaran for 3 days, over the course of which my cousins fed us seafood 4 times. Cue the worst part of the trip.
On our last day in Pangandaran, we revisited a seafood restaurant we ate at on the first day, and unfortunately all of us (including the Indonesia natives) got food poisoning. On the 6 hour drive home, we all fought our sick urges. Unfortunately, this sickness ate up pretty much all of our free days when we returned to Bandung. With our Bandung trip coming to an end, we visited Kawah Putih, a volcanic crater lake surrounded by tea plantations.
The next day, we headed to Jakarta to catch our flight home. On the way, we stopped at Taman Safari in Bogor. This safari sells you carrots and bananas before you enter and on the way to the actual park there are free roaming animals who approach your car and stick their heads in your window to beg for treats. We fed alpacas, deer, zebras, camels, and even tossed carrots into the mouth of a hippo who was resting in a body of water next to the road.
We also got to ride on an elephant and take photos with an adorable red panda!
After our safari adventure, we spent two more nights in Jakarta before the long journey home. It’s been about a month since we’ve been back. Like with any long trip away from home, there were many times where I was homesick. Now that I’m home, I find myself missing our adventures and experiences more and more each day! It is definitely a privilege to travel across the world for such a long period of time and to experience what we were able to experience. Thanks for all the good times, Indonesia! I look forward to seeing you again.