What Indonesia Taught Me And The 15 Things You Should Experience There Too

Exploring Gili Trawangan – Indonesia – A World to Travel-45

Travel is like an endless university. You never stop learning.

– Harvey Lloyd

And that is exactly one of the things I travel for. To learn. After writing about the things I learnt in Dubai and Israel, today I want to share with you all what Indonesia taught me:

1. Indonesia is huge.

And its more than 17000 islands make it easier to remember. No one has ever been in all of them and I doubt that challenge will be conquered anytime soon.

2. You can be a millionaire there.

Even if you are on a budget. Because as of today’s exchange rate, $1.00 equals to 13,355.00 IDR (Indonesian Rupiah).

3. Traveling in Indonesia is easy.

Boarding domestic flights is as straightforward as taking buses and the tourism industry is one of the most developed ones in the country.

4. Indonesians might be the most smily people on earth.

And if you don’t believe me, please check our Humans of Indonesia project now.

5. The country is home to a stunning underwater paradise.

If Komodo and Gili Islands left me speechless already, can’t even begin to understand how places like Raja Ampat will be.

Indonesian islands from above

Indonesian islands from above

6. There aren’t enough Unesco listed sites in Indonesia.

At the moment, Indonesia has four cultural Unesco World Heritage sites:

  • Borobudur Temple Compounds – 1991

Borobudur Temple - Java Island - Indonesia - A World to Travel-5

  • Prambanan Temple Compounds – 1991

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  • Sangiran Early Man Site – 1996
  • Cultural Landscape of Bali Province – 2012

Exploring Bali Island - Indonesia - A World to Travel-11

and four natural ones:

  • Komodo National Park – 1991
Pulau Padar, Komodo National Park, Indonesia.

Pulau Padar, Komodo National Park, Indonesia.

  • Ujung Kulon National Park – 1991
  • Lorentz National Park – 1999
  • Tropical Rainforest Heritage of Sumatra – 2004

Well, after visiting 4 of them (Borobudur, Prambanan, Bali and Komodo) I gotta say they were all mind-blowing in a way. On the other hand, many other were pretty unique and, IMHO, deserve a spot in the catalog as well.

Unesco, listen up! Revise your World Heritage List and try to add more Indonesia goodness to it. Places like Bromo, Tangkuban Perahu, Kawah Putih and Gili islands should be there too.

7. Tourism is controversial and usually has two sides.

Let’s take for instance Bromo Mount.

This volcano truly blew our minds as it showed us the best:

  • A stunning sight for all landscape addicts like us.
  • With a warm local community.
  • And a range of adventures and experiences to suit all tastes.

and worst faces of tourism:

  • Dubious sustainability of the touristic spot, where an overwhelming amount of visitors head there every morning to see the sunrise just to find out there’s literally no room for everyone when they get to the top.
  • High health risks for the visitors (sulphur filled air that condenses and falls right in your face if you make it up the Bromo volcano to catch a glimpse of the crater from the best spot) and locals that work endless hours daily inspiring it in, again, very bad working conditions.
  • Animal abuse where you can witness dozens of exhausted horses carrying tourists as they commute back and forth from the parking lot to the crater itself all day long, without being fed properly and in the same polluted conditions than everyone else.
  • Plus other endless dangers that no one tells you about as you make your way to the top as how easy is to slip if you adventure yourself away from the designated paths (and therefore fall in the crater hole disappearing forever) and how the 4 wheelers can run you over in the early hours in what is a disorganized chaos with all kind of vehicles trying to get to the top.
Bromo is the perfect example of a sigh that needs to be taken care of to develop a sustainable way to be presented to the masses. That, we should forget about it altogether and just leave it be. Without ruining it as we are doing.

8. Organized chaos is such a thing.

And usually it works just fine. Then there’s Kuta, which is the most chaotic spot ever. You want to leave that area as quick as possible, trust me.



9. Unwinding in an oasis steps away from the madness is possible.

And a quiet place like a temple, a garden or a Traveloka listed hotel is never far from you. See now.

10. Religions respect each other pretty nicely.

And the most significant are observed in places I hadn’t noticed before. Like your typical inflight magazine, that saved a few ‘real state’ sheets for listing prayers of a few different religions.

11. The highs and lows of traveling in tropical weather.

I first experienced it in Mexico, the moment I stepped out of my air-con luxurious suite. There I witnessed how moisture entered my camera lens (god knows how) without being able to avoid it while my just straightened hair curled in minutes.

Well, Indonesia weather wasn’t very different to the Caribbean, India, Thailand or Sri Lanka.

You can’t fight the humid heat, just need to embrace it as you learn to live with it. And once you do, life will smile back at you again.

12. Beer is more expensive than a meal.

And let’s just not talk about wine, usually seen as a luxurious product for special occasions.

Bandung - Indonesia - A World to Travel-46

13. Fresh, local produced and high quality food is everywhere.

And not necessarily in the form of street food carts like other South East Asian countries do – and I can’t stop picturing Khao San Road, in Bangkok now… – but everywhere.

14. Indonesia’s 250M people are a diverse bunch.

Indonesia is home to hundreds of ethnic groups speaking many languages. What makes it one of the ‘richest countries’ if we are discussing culture and traditions for a starter.

15. Lunch boxes are there to stay.

Don’t kill me just yet.

I just wanted to end this article on a funny note and seriously, I never felt more intimidated by something (stuff!) as in Indonesia with lunch boxes.

Dozens and dozens of those tiny cardboard packages would pile up in our bus and reproduce themselves after every stop. It was insane, but only showed once again how hospitable the country is. Even when Indonesians think we, travelers or tourists (see what I did there!), must be hungry 24/7!

Bandung - Indonesia - A World to Travel-15

Disclaimer: Jose and I were invited to uncover 6 different destinations within the country by Indonesia Tourism during 2 weeks last year, before continue exploring it for a while slower and on our own dime.

More on our Indonesia trip here.

There are 9 comments

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  1. muhafazakar

    Wonderful post and amazing photos. I really like your shots. Thanks for showing people of that place too, they seem so friendly!

  2. gonilecruise

    perfect photos thanks for enriching our imagination and fuel our desire to visit those places.

  3. Janice & George

    Absolutely gorgeous photos of Indonesia! And how nice that you got to spend a whole lot of time really exploring the nation :-). We spent some 6 weeks in Bali, Lombok and Komodo (awesome scuba diving in Komodo!). Our big regret was not making it to Borobudur. Next time :-).

  4. Alex

    You photos blew my mind! Really captured the heart and soul of Indonesian culture with this post, and re-ignited my desire to get back there!

    I would like to add one thing to this list, which has come about only in the last few years:

    The Indonesian craft coffee scene!

    5 years ago it was minimal, but now, Indonesia’s craft coffee culture is on fire!

    Bali Jakarta and Sulawesi – get honorable mentions, especially the 2 latter – where you can drink some of the best coffee in the world, with some of the proudest coffee producers in the world!

  5. Michael Bach

    Gread info for Indonesia. You should consider adding the ability to downlad this article as a PDF. It is pretty much a complete guide to Indonesia. Nice to have on your phone when traveling there 🙂

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