Being an Indonesian who wanders around the world

My goal in my life is Travel around the world.

I gave up my idealism to teach and move to Singapore, doing office work just to get more money so I could save more for travelling. Yeah, I gave up teaching, the job I love the most. But I have to stay focus. I support my parents financially you know, so being a teacher won’t make me go anywhere.

I always take long trip on summer (May-July) even though I know in Southeast Asia, the whole year is summer. But at least, rain won’t likely to pour on those months.

Last month, I took a long trip from Kuala Lumpur – Siem Reap – Pnomh Penh – Bangkok – Hanoi – KL – back to Singapore. I already prepared myself to make so many review posting in my blog, but being an Indonesian really ruined your standard of travelling. I am hard to please.

I tell you why.

Angkor wat is not Borobudur

So, after I read so many positive reviews about this place, I had a big expectation. I arrived at Siem Reap in the morning, picked up at the airport by my tuk-tuk driver who speaks Malay! (Anyone wants his contact I’ll happily give. Just leave me a comment or tweet me.) He brought us to Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, and some random temples that I forgot the names because too much temples name to remember with such foreign name. After time reached 3 pm, the tuk tuk driver asked whether I still wanted to visit Bantey Srei (because I already insisted since morning). He told me that it’s very far. I replied that I don’t mind and I also don’t mind to pay extra dollars because the pictures I saw in the internet are very mesmerizing.

The Famous Angkor Wat

Reading the history and map of Angkor Wat from “The Rough Guide” Book

The tuk tuk driver was right. It’s very far and I slept all the way there. I woke up with a major headache because I slept with natural fan blown upon my body! (In Bahasa called masuk angin.) When I arrived at Bantey Srei, I was like… JENG! JENG! Is this it? Why all the pictures in the internet look so pretty?!

The Famous Bantey Srei for “It’s worth the trip” motto. Well, NOT worth the trip.

Angkor wat sure was big, but I told you, I’m Indonesian. I saw Borobudur when I was 11 and I couldn’t sleep for the next week because it was sooooo gorgeous.

I took shuttle bus to Pnomh Penh, that was about 5 hours journey full of sudden break and extreme maneuver by the driver. Thank god again, I’m Indonesian. I had worse with Kopaja driver. LOL

I cannot say many things about Pnomh Penh because that city is so depressing with all the history. I had a nightmare sleeping after visiting the Genocide museum (used to be the actual prison where all the victims were tortured) and Genocide Center or Killing Fields where all the victims were killed massively.

So, there goes my Cambodian trip. Not what I expected from a holiday.


Halong Bay is not Padang Bai

Another excitement I was looking forward to is Hanoi and of course the legendary Halong Bay. Let me cut you to the chase of Hanoi. It sucks. It’s just Jakarta 10 years ago, with worse taste of food and more rude people.

The only good thing about Hanoi is the museums. I love all the museums. I visited Vietnamese Women Museum which was great and Ho Chi Minh Museum which was remarkable, one of the most artistic and weirdest museum I’ve ever seen.

Ho Chi Minh Museum

Vietnamese Women Museum

So if you love museums, Hanoi won’t be such a bad idea. But you know how much I hate crowded and messy city. I ran away from it, I live in one now, so I don’t ask for one again on my holiday. But anyway I could only blame myself.

The next day, I went to Ha Long! The legendary village of the dragon and took a cruise to Ha Long Bay. Highlights: Even my trip from Padang Bai to Lembar by 15,000 rupiah ferry has much better view than this!

The Famous Halong Bay, the path after visiting the colorful cave (don’t even bother to remember the name.)

We cruised through the limestone (that is similar to one when going to the Phi Phi Island in Phuket) and visited caves (great but not that great) and stopped in the floating village, which is originated from Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The Floating Village, NOT Photoshopped.

After going kayaking, and saw the floating village, we all cruised back to Ha Long City. I really couldn’t believe my eyes that the water in the ocean is not blue. It is greenish kind of dirty. Oh my god it’s too bad to be true. I can’t even compare with the water near Lombok Island.

This cruise supposed to be a breathtaking cruise. :(

It’s not that I didn’t enjoy the whole journey. I did. I tasted new food, met new people and learned new things. It’s just that sometimes it pissed me off when they exaggerate about something . This place is not breathtaking. Maybe for some people it is, because people has different standard and level of bitchiness (well mine is sure high). I hate when things are overrated. Halong Bay is definitely overrated. There goes my only review for the holiday.

Call me hard to please. I’m sorry for having high standard of scenery since I am an Indonesian. I’ve so many universe great creations in my country, and I’m gonna live up to that.

Even for Bandi who has gone to so many places on earth, he still agree that Indonesia has it all. Sometimes I wonder why Indonesian (including me) loves to go to abroad when our country has it all. The answer would be… The beautiful places in Indonesia are not tourist friendly. Government doesn’t care so much and don’t bother to start to care.

A lot of potential hidden in every part of Indonesia. We’re so huge for god’s sake! But sadly, all of our neighboring country is smarter than us to attract tourists. They have their advertisement everywhere and those pretty pictures which I bet photoshopped. When I took picture in Gili Trawangan with my pocket camera, the photos were already breathtaking.

So many places in part of Indonesia I haven’t visited. And guess what? The air tickets to those places could be twice or three times more expensive than going to Phuket or Hong Kong. But I guess price doesn’t lie, does it? :p





Gili Trawangan: A little piece of heaven.

I put Lombok on my itinerary last Summer Holiday, although I was only excited about Bali because Bali seems to have everything I need for holiday: Great beaches, great foods, great night clubs, interesting culture and hundreds other reason to go. But it turned out I got a surprise! :)

I arrived at Denpasar in the afternoon of a rainy May, bargained for 80.000 rupiahs with the cab driver to take me to my friend’s house near Sanur Beach.

When I told my friend Cininta about my plan to Lombok, she was very nice to drive me to Padang Bai that night. Padang Bai is the harbor where you can find ferry to Lembar, Lombok’s harbor. I decided to leave all ofmy things in Cininta’s house but some cash, one spare shirt, camera, and of course,bikini!!! :D

It was a 2-hours drive from Denpasar to Padang Bai. I didn’t know it was actually far. It was about 10 pm when we arrived. And we didn’t know that the harbor was quite scary. My man, Bandi planned to take the midnight ferry so we’ve waited about 2 hours. However, I thought it was a bad decision to take a midnight ferry coz we were the only traveler here and everyone seemed suspicious. We walked around the beach in Padang Bai and thankfully found an inn to stay.

The next morning, we were ready to say bye bye to our Lombok plan and looked for shuttle bus back to Kuta. Bandi was bargaining price with a travel agent when a Canadian guy asked me, “Where you’re going?”
“We were hoping Gili, but I don’t—“
“It was GORGEOUS!!!” and he was unstoppable of telling me how gorgeous the island was and his experience of trekking the Rinjani Mountain in Lombok.

However, again, we changed our mind, and til this time, it was the best decision ever!

There are 3 Gilis in the northwest of Lombok Island. Gili Air, Gili Meno and Gili Trawangan. Gili Trawangan is the biggest one and the most visited, so we picked it.

We got quite low price because we’re Indonesian people and could bargain the price in bahasa, but the Canadian guy said some western people could get our price when they’re lucky, including him. It was about 450.000rupiahs (2 persons) for the whole transport from padang bai to Gili and back to Kuta. I will explain later about how to get thereThe ferry was surprisingly comfortable and if the weather is great you could see this the whole day.. I hate long trip but thank god, it’s worth it. The ferry was surprisingly comfortable and if the weather is great you could see this the whole day.

View from the Ferry. It's a 6 hours trip!

Arrived at Lembar, Lombok, we still had to take the shuttle bus from the harbor ro the other side of the island, to Bangsal harbor. But this harbor is only for small boat like fast boat and fisherman boat. We took the fisherman boat and it was pretty cool!

15 minutes in fisherman boat

I will fast forward to the moment when I finally arrived to this awesome Island and the first thing I said was “don’t you think God was reaaallly serious when he created this island?”

A little piece of heaven

The water was clean so we can see shells on the bottom of the sea, the sandy white beaches seem to welcome me when I first stepped off from the boat. The color of the beach was gradation form white-green-turquoise-blue-dark blue. It was breathtaking. I stopped for a while and took a mental picture of that moment.

The first thing we did was renting a bike. well, it wasn’t really a good decision coz it turned out that you can walk around the island for maybe an hour (if you walk fast), and the path was mostly sandy so it was hard for riding a bike.

If you had so much time, you can try my way. I was going half round the island just to find a perfect bungalow to stay. Well, it cost a little bit more but I loved that place, it called Grasia. Most of the hotels or inns are run buy expatriate and Indonesian people works for them. It was a sad fact actually, coz Indonesian government doesn’t really care about our tourism. The funny thing is the local people speaks English very well, I think even better than they speak proper Bahasa. They speak local language (which I didn’t understand at all) with local people, and English with the travelers.

Let the picture tells

The food was average. It was mostly grilled seafood and woods burnt pizza. My favorite was pizza from Coral Beach 1. It was definitely not the best pizza I’ve ever tasted but, on that island, that pizza might be the best. :p

There are tons to do on the island. You can go diving with the diving community, or if you can’t dive, you can take a lesson there. It was about 800.000 rupiahs. Or if you’re afraid (like me), let’s justsnorkel. It wasn’t my best snorkel experience, but Bandi said it was pretty good. Well, Bandi swam way further to the sea so I think he got better view.

view from the hut.

You can also just stay on the small huts and read a book. If you ate in Coral Beach 1, you could stay in the small hut andlay down or just sit there watching the gorgeous beach. You can trek around the island, you can bike, you can get drunk at night or eat the ‘magic mushroom’, which is the must-try-local-mushroom. You get what I mean, right?

This might be the best tip I would ever give to you so listen, don’t eat dinner far from your hotel, coz at night, there aren’t lights at all. WHY? I stayed at the east side of the island and ate dinner at the west side of the island, so when I walked back after dinner (about 7:30 p.m.) to my bungalow the path was REALLY scary! Seriously it was creepy! And remember, Asia has so many creepy ghosts. (I can’t believe I said that). You can take ‘andong’ (a two wheel carriage drawn by a horse) but the cost is 50.000!

Imagine this, at night, complete dark.

So, no! I’d rather walk and took the risk of anything it was. Thankfully everything was ok, but it was the longest walk I’ve ever had, especially in some path where there were no buildings at all. I could only walk as I was blindfolded, hearing the sound of waves and crickets and feeling the grass all over my calves. IT WAS BEYOND SCARY!
So the bottom line,

“Don’t eat dinner far from your hotel!”

How to go there:

  • The easiest way is taking a fast boat from Padang Bai, Bali straight to Gili Trawangan, but the cost is 600.000 per person. It’s one hour trip.
  • Or you could fly from Denpasar to Mataram, Lombok and take a shuttle bus and boat to Gili Trawangan. But I think it would be waaayy more expensive. It will also be a one hour trip
  • Or you can take my way, which is the cheapest way of all:
  1. Shuttle Bus from Kuta to Padang Bai : IDR 60.000 (two hours)
  2. Ferry from Padang Bai to Lembar, Lombok : IDR 31.000 (5-7 hours, depends on the wheather)
  3. Shuttle bus from Lembar –Senggigi – Bangsal (or you can go straight to Bangsal): 45.000 – 60.000 (1,5 hours)
  4. Boat from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan : about IDR 10.000

And going back to Bali with the same route. I got a good deal with paying 450.000 for two persons for a round trip. Try to bargain!

I would like to go back to Gili Trawangan one day and stay there for a month and forget about works and stuffs. Just lay down on the beach, watching waves, and fishermen’s boats come and go…

The night then falls.

Of all the places I’ve gone that summer holiday, Gili Trawangan was the only place I crave for more. Definitely will  go back there! :)

Mental Picture, CLICK

Love, May