You obviously know that Indonesia is in Southeast Asia and that Bali is one of the main attractions. Doh! You already know that since elementary school. Indonesia is so diverse. It has various landscapes, ethnic groups, languages and dialects, beliefs and habits. Are you thinking about your winter escape at the moment? Why not Indonesia? When Indonesia is the main topic, allow me to share some insider tips about places and habits that maybe, just maybe, many travellers have not discovered it.
Bali is so yesterday!
As well as international travellers, local travellers has already “rambled” Bali for many decades. This island is indeed the island of the gods, that little piece of paradise on earth, you name it. I could not agree more. However, Indonesia is not only Bali. If you still cannot resist the temptation of the Balinese sun, sea and beaches, choose the quiet areas such as Lovina (in the far north), Candidasa, Amed or all the way to West Bali, where you can visit the national park and admire the nature and wild animals.
The trend now is: leave Bali after a day or two and go on an adventure to Flores. Reach the islands per boat. Observe the simple life of the locals in Labuan Bajo. A must visit is the Komodo Island (Pulau Komodo) where you can see the biggest lizard on earth. Also a must see: Climb the mountain and see the breathtaking view of Lake Kelimutu from above.
Almost all travellers avoid Jakarta because it is too crowded and chaotic. I however think that you ought to go to Jakarta because of the extravaganza’s that you will experience in that capital city. But please, choose a very good hotel. At least a three stars, so that at the end of the day you can still relax and blow off steam properly.
In Jakarta you have to experience Go-Jek (motorbike taxi or car cab). You have to download the Go-Jek app and order the cab online. They do not only have a taxi service. Go-Jek is a hype in Jakarta (since two years ago). With Go-jek you can order food, deliver you package, buy movie tickets, order a masseur, hair and make-up stylist and even a cleaning crew to clean your home! Where is the traffic jam? I do not see it! Oh, it’s because I’m sitting comfortably in my hotel room or apartment and have everything delivered by Go-Jek.
I would recommend to rent a taxi or car (with driver) rather than drive a car on your own. It is a jungle out there. But as they all say: “If you can drive in Jakarta, you can drive anywhere!” I used to drive everywhere in Jakarta. I have driven there since I was 18 years old. But nowadays I’d rather go with a taxi. For me it is more comfortable and I would not have to be stressed out because of the traffic.
If you want to know how Jakartan’s live and do, then one of the best way to know it is from having a conversation with the taxi driver. Want to go somewhere to eat where the locals always go? Ask him, he’ll know where to go. Please give some tip after a ride. Taxi drivers do not earn that much in Jakarta and the competition is extremely high.
Knife and fork (almost) do not exist
Indonesians eat with a spoon or simply with their hands. In propper restaurants they will give you a spoon and a fork. What if you order rice with beef stew and vegetables? Well, you have to cut the meat with your spoon.
What if you order rice with fried chicken? Then use your hands to tear it apart or when you want to act decent (which I think very difficult to do when you eat a burger or fried chicken) then use the spoon to slice the chicken (won’t happen, I’m telling you!). Only in restaurants where they serve Western steak, they will give you a knife and a fork.
You do not have to finish your drink
You would probably see this often in Indonesia: Hey, they do not finish their drinks. That’s a shame! No, that is normal and it is not rude. It is in Indonesia ruder to say no. When one comes to visit and and the host asks whether he wants a drink, he must say yes (though he might actually not thirsty, at all).
In restaurants you can also see this often as well. When they have had enough, they would not finish it. You don’t have to feel offended if someone do not finish the drinks that you have ordered. You even do not have to worry when you, your self, can not finish your drink (well, unless if you find it shameful).
All you need is love (or food)
If you love to eat and adore food, then you will be fine in Indonesia. Even Anthony Bourdain was thinking to settle down in Indonesia just because of the food (No Reservation, season 2, ep. 9). If you have relatives or friends in Indonesia please always bring something tasty when you pay a visit. Flowers or souvenirs are nice but they find it even more respectable if you bring some food. When you are invited to someone’s home, I am pretty sure, that you will go back to your hotel room with a full stomach. The host always prepares a meal for her guests. Albeit only rice with vegetables; thy would eat!
Are you invited to a party in Indonesia, such as a wedding party? Then you’re a lucky! You will not only eat peanuts, snacks, cheeses, olives or other small bites, but you will see food all over, served in lots of buffet tables. Think of rice, fried rice, daging semor, fried chicken, stir-fried vegetables, gado-gado, satay, prawn crackers and more. Everything is prepared with love. The love of food, but most certainly the love to share the joy.
So when you feel a little bit weary this winter: Grab your laptop, book a ticket to Indonesia, escape the cold and go enjoy the hospitality of the locals, the beautiful scenery of the various islands and eat a lot, till we have to roll you down to your hotel room. I always say: It is not eat, pray and love in Indonesia. It is eat, pray, love and eat again!