Why You Should Travel to Indonesia

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When most people think about travel to Indonesia they think about picturesque beaches and sprawling temples. However, when I think about travel to Indonesia I think about motorbikes and eating satay outside of the train station surrounded by smiling faces. Indonesia offers so much more than the beach resorts and spas. It is complex, dynamic, and deceivingly large.

Travel to Indonesia - Balinese Farm

Enjoying farm life in inland Bali

For starters, Indonesia has a population of nearly 250 million people, with 141 million on the island of Java alone. Such a large population has put a serious strain on infrastructure, sometimes making travel very difficult, especially after you leave the “safety” of the all-inclusive resort. Again, I’m not one to paint an unrealistic version of the place by showing you fancy selfies of me jumping around ignorantly enjoying my vacation. Travel often involves enduring some type of conflict and my time in Indonesia is no exception. I chose to travel using local transport and try my best to stay with local hosts. Overall, the entire experience chewed me up and spit me back out, but I would do it again in a heartbeat.

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Life is good at my friend’s place in Bali – nestled among the rice paddies

What’s the Fuss about Indonesia?

So why travel to Indonesia? The answer is simple. Indonesia has the world’s friendliest people. Period. It was what made me fall in love with Indo, made me come back to Indo, and what will ultimately drive me to return to Indonesia. There is one story in particular that exemplifies just how hospitable Indonesians are.

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Goofing off with my Couchsurfing host, Pandu while motorbiking in the foothills surrounding Jogjakarta. He said I looked like a terrorist, I said it was cold speeding through the hills early in the AM!

Travel by Local Transport

I was 48 hours deep into a long, weary journey from Bali to Jogjakarta. During that time I had traveled by local bus, suspiciously un-seaworthy ferry, crappy bus, inconceivably crappier bus, taxi, foot, and finally – train. To give you a sense of how far I traveled Jogjakarta and Denpasar, Bali are roughly the same distance as Los Angeles is to San Francisco. In other words, about a 5 hour car ride in America. Without going into too much detail, as this particular stint is a story on its own, I was filthy, I was exhausted, I was hungry, and at the end of my rope. To make matters worse, my SIM card had run out of credit and I hadn’t been able to find a place to stay.

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Travel to Indonesia involves vast amounts of time on public transportation, but it’s hard to complain when the scenery is this good. Even if your bum has gone numb from sitting on wooden seats

Wearily I stepped off the train into Jogjakarta. It was late at night, but the heavy, humid heat still lingered thick in the air. I was at a loss. There was nowhere for me to go and I didn’t have much of a clue as to where I actually was. Bodies were piled around, trying to sleep over the deafening voices booming incoherently over an old school intercom.

Desperate, I spotted a tourist information booth and approached a young girl playing with her cellphone.

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When you travel to Indonesia, always wake up for sunrise.

“Bahasa Engrish?” I asked, too brain dead to attempt to use my language skills.

“Yes.” She replied.

I explained to her my problem. She told me she would help me find a place to stay. 20 minutes later she was at a loss. It was after Ramadan, hotels, hostels you name it were full from family being in town and locals on holiday.

“Hold on, I will call my boss, he will come from his home to help you.”

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Living a different kind of life

Within 15 minutes a man who called himself “Eric” appeared.

“Hello! Oh please, have some soup! Please eat! Eat! You look tired and hungry. My name is Eric, I will take care of you. We will find you a place to sleep.”

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Helping my host grocery shop at a local market

He handed me a styrofoam cup filled to the brim with steaming hot Bakso Soup. I had never tasted anything so comforting in my life. Furthermore, I had never been so grateful for such a simple thing. An hour went by and Eric slaved away calling place after place after place trying to find a bed. Just about the time I was eyeing a vacant corner to curl up in and attempt to call it a night Eric ended his phone call and approached me.

“I have found a place for you and a taxi is on the way. It is a bit outside of town, but it is by the Prambanan Temple, very nice to visit and there’s a pool.” Later I would find out that “pool” really meant 1950s style water park, a sight to behold in itself.

“Thank you. I ask, how much is it a night?”

“30,000 rupiah.” At the time this was roughly $30 USD and for what I was getting, insanely expensive, but after Ramadan prices of hotels nearly triple. Not to mention, I wasn’t exactly in a position to bargain.

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The Prambanan Temple complex

“Your taxi has been paid for.” He continued. “I want you to have the best time in Jogjakarta, and I do not want anyone to visit this city and not enjoy their stay. I pray you enjoy your time. If you need anything, ANYTHING, you come see me.”

After I thanked him and tried to offer him money (he refused), I was on my way. As I absentmindedly stared out the window I reflected on the entire ordeal. This is the reality of travel. This is life on the road. Where else on Earth would someone leave their home during a holiday and come to work just to comfort and help a stranger?

Final Thoughts About Travel to Indonesia

Honestly, it would have been easy for the young girl to shrug her shoulders and say sorry, leaving me to fend for myself. However, this isn’t the Indonesian way. Random acts of kindness and conversation from strangers are commonplace. The curiosity and friendly nature of the people is contagious. You are left reminded that world isn’t out to get you. There is a beauty and compassion. This is why I love to travel to Indonesia.

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The sun sets on another day in the Kampung (village) outside of Jogja

Get out there, have an adventure and travel to Indonesia. See for yourself just how amazing the people are. Do you have a travel story? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Happy Adventuring!
-Fox
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21 thoughts on “Why You Should Travel to Indonesia

  1. Kerri

    I spent time in the more remote parts of Indonesia earlier this year and it certainly opened my eyes to a country that is really only ever known as “Bali”. Jogyi is a great place too and so full of wonderful history.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Kerri exactly! There is so much more to see and experience. Jogya is a fascinating place filled with lots of culture and it gets so easily overlooked. I feel like I could spend a lifetime discovering Indonesia.

      Reply
  2. Melissa

    How lovely of them to take care of you like that. When I think of Indonesia, I generally think of Bali – being an aussie its our home away from home. But I have been seeing some beautiful spots and am now kicking myself wondering why I haven’t visited more places in Indonesia.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hi Melissa! It truly was one of the most amazing things a stranger has ever done for me. I’ve spent a lot of time in Bali as well (I used to live in Kuala Lumpur). You totally have to get out and explore more of Indonesia. It is a magical place! Cheers 🙂

      Reply
  3. Carmen Baguio

    What a wonderful story of humanity. For every bad experience I’ve had, I’ve had 10 times the good. The good hearts of most people never cease to amaze me. Especially when my children were young, many people went out of their way to make sure we were safe and having a good time.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Thanks Carmen. It’s so true! There are a lot of people out there who believe the world is a scary and hateful place, but the more I travel the more I realize that we really all want the same things.

      Reply
  4. Lisa

    Great story and love the fact that a stranger did not hesitate to help. That alone will be a wonderful memory for you. I would like to visit one day and get off the beaten path. It would be wonderful to hike through those old temple ruins too. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  5. Anna

    Great post! I am from Australia and Indonesia is so close but i have never been. I will definitely come back to read again when i’ll be traveling there Oh or i could just bookmark it right now 😀

    Reply
  6. Angelique

    Indonesia looks amazing! I traveled to Asia and Thailand for the first time last year and has such a great experience. Bali is on my travel bucket list, but the flight is just sooooo long 😉

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hi Angelique. Thanks for stopping by. Isn’t South East Asia just fascinating? I’ve been to Bali a few times. It’s a dynamic island for sure. I get what you mean with the flight though. I try to break it up when I can. Have a long layover that lets you get out of the airport somewhere so you don’t aren’t constantly on a plane for 24 hours straight 😂 Hopefully you get to go soon.

      Reply
  7. Rhiannon

    That was such a heart-warming story to read! I hope karma came right back around and gave Eric and that girl their dues (in a good way!). I’d absolutely love to visit Indonesia some day, but to be honest have never really seen or heard anything other than the beach/yoga side of things. So reading about this slightly different side was refreshing! I also love your style of writing and am looking forward to exploring a little more of your blog!

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hi Rhiannon,
      I hope so to! And thank you very much for your kind words. I’m glad you enjoy the blog. There is a veery obvious tourist route in Indonesia and I really made an effort to try to avoid it – even in touristy areas. It’s easy to get away from all of that. To me Indonesia was much more about being involved in local culture and way of life. I highly encourage you to go. In order to jump start something like that I relied heavily on Couchsurfing (eventually I ended up spending several nights with a family in Jogjakarta and even attending a wedding). If you aren’t comfortable staying with a stranger or it isn’t your thing Couchsurfing has tons of meetups where you can do stuff like go out to dinner or wander around with a local. Another option is to allow yourself to get lost. Head into a less traveled part of town and explore! Don’t be afraid to get into the countryside either. I’ve found this to be a great way to see any place. Thanks again for stopping by!

      Reply
  8. Brown Gal Trekker

    Ah, Indonesia – the cousin of the Philippines where I’m from by birth. Indonesia has world class trekking such as Rinjani, Ijen etc… one more reason to love the country. I agree, like its sister Asian countries, Indonesia has very lovely and friendly people. That’s one asset when you travel in Asia.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      SEA is one of my favorite regions to travel. I have never trekked there but I definitely plan on it. I’d love to explore more of Borneo and Sumatra – do some jungle trekking. I have yet to go to the Philipeans but I hear it’s beautiful. I’ll have to hit you up when I plan my next trip out that way.

      Reply
  9. Michelel D

    Indonesia has always been on my list of places to visit and now after reading this post I have a travel bug bite that is massive. Sooo jealous I can’t wait to visit myself.

    Reply
  10. Alaine

    I’m always curious to hear what travelers think of Indonesia. Its my passport country and I spent a few years as a young child living in an expat/Chinese minority bubble in Jakarta. I didn’t particularly have very good memories but I do love a good bowl of bakmi bakso with tons of fried onion as well as a plate of satay ayam. Indonesian food in my opinion is actually a much more palatable Southeast Asian cuisine than the others as it has a lot of mild curries, Chinese and Dutch food influences but you can also have the burn in your mouth spicy padang food. I’ve only been to Jakarta, Bandung, Bogor, Puncak, and Bali. The problem with the infrastructure with the growing population is the traffic jams. Chewing gum time and lateness of Indonesians is always blamed on the traffic. Anyways, I’m glad that you love going back to Indonesia. We always need countries we gravitate towards and return to because we love it so much. My country is Sweden, I love the gender equality, fika, architecture, Viking history, and the sweet, honest, and direct Swedes.

    Reply
    1. foxintheforest Post author

      Hi Alaine,
      Jakarta is a tough place – I only spent a few hours there but the traffic was enough to drive me bonkers – and that was AFTER living in Asia for a few months. The food is amazing though – everywhere I went I was always asked if I wanted something to eat. I ended up going to a sambal bar in Jogja…that was an experience! I came bursting into the kitchen shouting “sedap, tapi PEDAS!! (delicious but hot!)” They lost it laughing at this sweaty white girl haha. Sweden is a pretty fantastic spot too! I studied architecture for a semester in Denmark and spent a lot of time there. Thank you for sharing your story 🙂

      Reply

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