My Java Experience: Tips for first time travelers to Indonesia (PART 1)
It’s been a while since I wrote something here but August has brought a lot of wonderful experiences that I just couldn’t help but share it to the blogosphere. To everyone who’s been asking for itineraries, here is “My Java Experience” series. I hope you can pick an idea or two on how to create your own amazing travel itinerary in the beautiful land of Indonesia.
Is this your first time to visit Indonesia? If so, let us talk about some guidelines that could help you understand the culture of this awesome archipelago!
Research. Research. Research
There are countless things you can do in this country and it all boils down to answering the basic question, “What do you want to do?” In my case, I decided to go to Indonesia because I wanted to climb Mt. Bromo which is situated in East Java. Since I had time to spare, I went to Central Java and visited the city of Yogyakarta (pronounced as Jogjakarta). This is home to two world-known cultural/religious sites: Prambanan and Borobudur. The first is a Hindu temple and the latter a Buddhist temple. I also further explored the West Java area via city of Bandung and visited tea plantations, bathe at hot spring resorts and took a selfie with a sulphur-filled lake called “Kawah Putih.” (Want to know my itinerary? More to come in this series.
Brace yourself for some chilli in every meal. I already researched about the food norm in Indonesia but no amount of research can prepare me from the hotness of Sambal. It’s Indonesian’s basic condiment for almost everything they eat. I mean everything – from Nasi Goreng (Fried rice) to Mi Goreng (Pancit Canton), from Sotto (soup), Baksu (Batchoy-like soup) to a Dunkin Donut Beef Croissant. I literally wasn’t able to finish my first meal of Nasi Goreng because I was crying from all the chilli. Though, it was my fault because I did ask it to be spicy. The good news for you is that you can always say no to it. So when the waiter asks if you want your meal to be spicy, just say no.
Prepare to be a millionaire.
When I exchanged peso to rupiah (August 4, 2017) the conversion was PHP1= 247 IDR. So my 10k pesos converted to 2 million rupiah. I stayed a full week in Indonesia with only the first two days as actual planned travel, so obviously I had to look for a money changer shop midweek. It always helps to bring extra cash and make sure to google the nearest Money Changer in your area to avoid the hassle of walking under the sun with your travel bag on a Sunday! Extra tip: They don’t normally have money changers in malls. Banks don’t ensure money conversion, too. So you really have to look for an actual money changer shop for it. The one I found in Bandung is Dollar Asia.
Learning basic words/phrases will help you go a long way.
Talking to locals in English was quite a challenge to say the least. There were times when a merchant had to get a calculator to show me how much the product cost and a cab driver had to use google translate to let me know what he wanted to say. Compensating with hand gestures won’t help much either so might as well prepare yourself with basic phrases like “Berapa?” which means “How much?” or “Terima Kasih” which means “Thank you.” I bought a local prepaid sim and registered to a data plan. They have fast internet service even in the highlands so it’s so easy to use the wonders of google translate if need be.
Be ready with an exciting toilet experience.
I thought I could escape it, but alas, I still had to deal with their interesting toilet setup albeit just once. In airports they have certain cubicles with familiar toilet bowls and offer bidets and special bowl cleanser dispensers, in other areas though, such as the toilets in Kawah Putih, you are left with this type of toilet (like squatting in camping trips) and a bucket of water on the side. Bonus tip: Bring your own toilet paper.
Want more tips? Watch out for Part 2! Coming out soon!