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Indonesia Holiday



Borobudur Statue
As most of you will know, I’m back from an incredible month-long holiday in Indonesia, together with my girlfriend Roser. It was an amazing growth experience. As well as helping me get connected with myself, this Indonesian holiday helped me reach new viewpoints and a sense of the wonder of life.

Note: this article is roughly 5800 words long. The average reader can read it in about 25 minutes.

If you want you could read only Section 1, where I talk about the holiday as a growth experience (1600 words / 6.5 minutes);  Section 2, where I talk about Indonesia as a whole (2300 words / 9 minutes); or Section 3, where I talk about some of the details of our trip and the places we’ve been to (2000 words / 8 minutes).

Contents


Section 1: Holiday Growth Experience

Happiness
Psychological Freedom
Growing In Self Love
Personal Growth On Holiday
Growing As A Couple On Holiday

Section 2: Indonesia

Entrepreneurism In Indonesia
Indonesian Culture And People
Holiday Vaccines
On Weather
Fruit Tourism
Food In Indonesia
Indigos In Indonesia

Section 3: Our Holiday In Indonesia

Jakarta
The Thousand Islands
Yogyakarta
Bali
Lombok
Gili Islands

Conclusion

Holiday Growth Experience

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Now I’m back from my Indonesia holiday, I’m taking on life in a very different way. It wasn’t just the trip: I think it’s also the result of the self work I’ve been doing recently (particularly with Chris Liaguno). But I think the holiday definitely made a huge difference to me.

To describe it simply, I’d just say that I’ve bumped up a level in vibration.

For those who don’t know exactly what I mean by the term, understand that in New Age thought “vibration” means something like my overall mood, energy, attitude, or vibe. A high or positive vibration means happiness, joy, love, peace, wellbeing, and so on. A low or negative vibration means a tendency to get stuck in negativity and negative emotions such as anger or depression.

While a person’s vibration will vary from moment to moment, there is also a more general vibration which will determine how often you dip into negative states or how often you buoy yourself up into positive states.

It’s actually possible to track your general vibration by feeling into your body. For a long time I had noticed two major centres of negative energy that I built up in the early parts of my life; one in the back (which I see as symbolising a “backpack” of pain I carry around), and one around my anus (the humiliation of being overpowered and hit there by my father, and generally symbolising powerlessness and self-disgust).

In the trip then, I’ve noticed both of these reduce in size significantly. In fact, compared to how they were at their peak, they seem to be almost gone.

The practical meaning of this is that I’m much freer psychologically, and of course, much happier and well balanced.

Happiness

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The happiness speaks for itself. You know, I’ve come to the opinion that true, authentic joy; deep joy, the sort of joy which has no opposite; that is, not the sort of unconscious euphoria which later becomes an equal measure of pain — I’ve come to the opinion that this sort of joy is a rare thing. I’ve rarely experienced that joy for very long, though I count myself lucky to be one of the people who has at least once in a lifetime.

You know if you have. It makes most other human pursuits seem hollow in comparison.

But these days I’m feeling a measure of peace and wellbeing in my day-to-day life which I don’t think I’ve had for a very long time. I can sit down and feel into my body, and there doesn’t seem to be so much of that itch of dissatisfaction, omnipresent among most people, dragging me into searching for the next bigger and better something to fill the void. I feel blessed to be able, to a much greater extent, to just be and not search for happiness outside the present moment.

There’s more work to do in this regard, of course, but I’m feeling very positive about the place I’m at right now.

Psychological Freedom

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The extra psychological freedom I’ve found seems to have come from the general bumping up of my vibration in this time in my holiday.

In effect, it lets me go about my life in a much more empowered and self-honouring way. As soon as I’ve gotten back here from Indonesia, I’ve started to go about my days in a much more joyful way, doing things to care for myself because I felt genuinely enthusiastic to do so, rather than forcing myself, pushing against inner resistence and hurting myself in the process.

I’ve started doing exercise, for instance. It’s not a huge amount, but that’s great in my book; something is something and it’s better than overextending myself. As I write this, I’m feeling a delicious after-sport euphoria in my body.

As with exercise, I’ve improved my diet too. Instead of overextending myself, again, I’m eating as healthily as seems comfortable. I’m getting a very real amount of raw fruit and vegetables into me, without forcing myself to eat 100% raw or anything like that. I’m also eating what I feel my body needs, rather than what I think my body needs. No more bananas; they may be raw but they don’t make me feel good. That sort of thing.

In the same vein as with exercise and diet, I’ve improved my working routine. Instead of beating myself up about work, I’m going about what I do with a calm pace and genuine enthusiasm. Currently the line between work and play seems nonexistent; I just do what I want to do, at all times. Some of those things have a specific end (money or other things), and others don’t.

Growing In Self Love

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All of these things seem to be a product of caring for myself more. Instead of doing what I thought I needed and disregarding what I actually needed, I’ve started to listen more to my needs and to honour them.

I’m sure Chris Liaguno (see above) will be happy to hear this, because this is what we were working on in the sessions I had before the holiday. I’ve also been greatly helped by Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power of Now” which I listened to in audio format during the holiday.

Personal Growth On Holiday

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In Boat, Jakarta in the distance

I think all of these improvements have something to do with giving myself some space to release from daily stresses, something to do with giving myself space to think and feel… and something to do with filling my life with more space in general. As Eckhart Tolle would say, spaciousness lets us connect with the infinite, while excess “stuff” (thoughts, words, activity) blocks that connection.

And so leaving the confines of everyday life and letting myself live in a much more open space than before… what better a way to get connected?

This can all be summed up with what I experienced on a long boat voyage at the beginning of the trip.

In that boat I had the sense of connecting with the larger voyage of souls which we all go through.

The sea ahead was the future, and the sea behind was the past. In both directions, past and future lives spread out to infinity.

When I was in my normal life and everything was crowded so close to me, it seemed that the problems I had were overwhelming, and that the suffering of myself and the world were too weighty to bear.

But give it all space… touch the infinite and none of that seems to matter.

Some times I’d thought that so many lives, if they contained as much suffering as I’ve known, would be unbearable. But looking out across the sea, feeling the infinity of it like the infinity of my past and future lives, it didn’t feel like that anymore. With so much space, problems didn’t seem to have so much reality anymore.

And in some way I felt accompanied by infinity. Somehow infinity had been with me all this time… and somehow that made it all OK.

You could call infinity “God”, but it meant something to me that I had felt it first, and given it my own name, and could later connect it with the more commonly used word. Cause that way I wasn’t being conditioned by the way other people had used the word.

Image: In boat, Jakarta in the distance

Growing As A Couple On Holiday

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So those are a lot of ways in which I grew personally during my holiday in Indonesia. The relationship I share with Roser also greatly improved.

They say that going on holiday is the biggest test for a new relationship. Actually, I saw a movie once about two 20-or-so-year-old newlyweds whose honeymoon broke down into a mess of ugly bickering. I get the idea that this must be a common scenario in holidays that are done as a couple.

Me and Roser were blessed to have a relatively argument-free holiday. Well, I think at the last count there were 4 real arguments in a total of 30 days of being almost constantly together.

Seeing it written down it doesn’t seem like such a proud achievement; but I know a lot of people fare a lot worse, and in the past I think we could have fared worse too. I guess most couples hide how much work it is to stay on peaceful terms together; society is invested in turning romantic relationships into rainbows and moonbeams. It’s not; when you’re bared before a partner with no barriers between you, you have to confront your collective “stuff” and it’s not always that pretty.

But this holiday was, in the general picture, a peaceful and loving thing. I think me and Roser have never been so happy together; and the shared experience went a long way to bringing us closer, and not pulling us apart.

On an interesting note I’ve noticed a much greater incidence in telepathy between us since about the second half of the holiday. The sort of thing where I will think one thing, and Roser will say it, or vice versa. And it’s pretty clear it’s telepathy. Yesterday I was thinking about something utterly trivial – I think it was a specific sort of food – and Roser, in another room, with no direct contact with me, called out something to me about that specific food.

These sorts of telepathic moments are common now; they’re happening about once or twice a day . I picked the above example because it’s a hard one for a skeptic to dismiss. :)

Indonesia

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Indonesia then… let’s talk about Indonesia.

Indonesia Map

Indonesia is a country that consists of a conglomerate of hundreds of islands, hundreds of cultures and hundreds of languages. Its claim to national identity comes from its history as a Dutch colony. Its people came together to throw off the foreign oppressors, and the country kept its unity afterwards.

The common language is Indonesian, and is spoken by almost all the people in Indonesia. It was used as a lingua franca in the region for hundreds of years, and was taken up as a common language when they resolved to create a common identity to bring the country together.

Nowadays Indonesia is known for various things. Its dominance in the world of coffee for one (“Java” often being used to mean coffee — actually the name of the most populous island in Indonesia). It’s also a world supplier of chocolate and cashew nuts.

You might have also heard of Bali (an island with rich art and culture), Sumatra, Krakatoa (site of one of the most devastating volcanic explosions in history) and Komodo island (home to the Komodo dragons).

Actually, Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world. It’s also the most populous muslim country. A strange thing considering its very low profile in the world’s consciousness.

While the people aren’t hugely wealthy, it’s not third world on the same level that India, for example, is. In India you can see rotting corpses of starved children on the streets. In Indonesia you can’t. In general there seems to be a basic, unostentatious prosperity going around the general population. According to Wikipedia, it has a proportion of people living below the country’s official poverty line that’s similar to Western countries. While this is a very subjective measure, this seems about right to me.

I mean, not everyone can afford Coca-Cola every day, but even the cheapest restaurants have big LED TV screens for their clients, and no one I met was starving. I also noticed remarkably few people who were living on the streets.

Entrepreneurism In Indonesia

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Speaking of prosperity, on the journey to Indonesia I just so happened to read a business magazine which mentioned Indonesia. Apparently Indonesia is the best place in the world to start your own business.

While no one defined “best”, I think there was some truth there. In Indonesia, it seems that there are very few legal blocks to starting up a business. In fact most people I talked to either had a business, or were thinking about starting one up. Unlike in Europe, this didn’t seem to be such a rare, scary, eccentric thing. It was pretty refreshing to get a sense of people taking responsibility for their own financial situation rather than leaving it all to an all-powerful “boss”.

In fact, I might go into business with an Indonesian friend, importing and marketing Indonesian breadfruit crisps. I’ll tell you if anything comes of that :)

Indonesian Culture And People

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Market In IndonesiaWhat else can I say about Indonesia… what stands out is that it’s an incredibly diverse place. The only constant is its perfect weather. In the different areas we went to, though, we experienced wooded country and plains, mountains and islands; buddhism, hinduism, christianity and islam; modernness and ancient tradition.

The Indonesian people are very friendly and go to great lengths to show hospitality. Though we wanted to help out with our high powered European money, our Indonesian friends were very insistent in providing for us – everything they could give us that we needed – and trying to pay our restaurant bills. We tried not to let them do the latter, although it had to be done tactfully so it didn’t seem like we were rejecting their hospitality.

On the flip side, Indonesian tourist hunters are the worst – incredibly invasive and insistent with their attempts to sell whatever it is to you. I had to work out advanced tactics like squeaking a rubber duck in their faces to distract them from their hard sell. Lol. :)

The worst you can get from an Indonesian is theft, though I felt very safe at all times from anything worse than that. Indonesia has a much lower crime rate (ex) than America, and is similar to European countries.

What else…

Holiday Vaccines

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We briefly considered the idea of getting vaccines to go to Indonesia. Well, Roser did the larger part of the considering, really.

In the end we didn’t get any vaccine. Mostly because we both strongly distrust the medical establishment (and for a good reason, as they aren’t trustworthy).

I’m not as reactionary as I have been and am willing to admit that sometimes it makes sense to use modern medicine. And, in fact, I’m not entirely sure if an Indonesia holiday might be one of those times. I can’t attempt to give advice to my readers here.

Except that I prefer to use invasive medical methods as sparingly as possible. And I felt like I could manage what Indonesia had to offer. So, without a compelling reason to do otherwise, I stayed with my standard position and eschewed modern medicine.

Our holiday was happily disease free, except for a cold that started before the holiday and persisted quite a long time. Apart from that, we both got some diarrhoea towards the second half of the holiday which went on for the rest of the trip. Nothing worse happened.

On Weather

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Indonesian ButterflyNow I’d like to talk about weather.

What, exactly, is the deal with winter? There seems no god-damn point to it. Half the year you’re uncomfortable, low in energy, and moody. It’s harder to grow some food, especially fruit, and you just enjoy life less.

Indonesia doesn’t have winter. The countries near to the equator share in that. They don’t have winter, and what’s more, they’re cooler than other places in summer. In the South of Spain, for instance, summer is suffocating. Indonesia on the other hand has a perfect ~24 degrees ºC all year round.

Let’s just all admit that winter is dumb. We wouldn’t even survive it if it weren’t for technology such as clothing and houses; let’s just admit it, that humans weren’t designed for going outside of the tropics. Our stomachs aren’t built, in fact, for eating the sorts of staples we can find outside the rainforest. We have to cook them just to make them edible for God’s sake.

Have you ever seen a monkey or primate living wild outside the tropics? No. So what the heck are we human monkeys doing here? We seem the butt of some massive joke. All the other monkeys are laughing at us, people.

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Poor weather makes us unhappy and bitter. Just observe the difference in attitude between a tropically born person and a frozen Brit or a baked Saudi Arabian. Tropical people are happier, healthier, more social, and take life more easy.

Fruit Tourism

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Indonesian FruitFollowing that rant I’d like to shakily transition to some musings on the food in Indonesia.

I mentioned that humans are built for the sort of diet found in the tropics. That is, fruit; all of our close primate cousins live in the rainforest, the only place where abundant fruit is available all year round.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that people who are serious about eating the natural diet (raw fruit and vegetables) get interested in doing some sort of fruit tourism.

And Indonesia is such a great place to go to eat fruit.

Quite apart from local fruit being available all year round, there’s also such great variety and quality that it blows a fruit lover’s mind.

The last day I was in Indonesia I ate a star fruit so sweet and juicy I could have sworn to never eat one in Spain again.

I also ate a giant papaya which was truly intense in flavour.

Mangosteens me and Roser bought by the sack. It’s our mutually favourite fruit. Actually it’s known as “queen of the fruits”. (“King of the fruits” is reserved for the durian, though I think if we have to title it as some sort of ruler “evil overlord” would be more accurate. It’s revolting).

We discovered the delight of fresh guavas late in the voyage – very different, and much better, than any guava I’d tried in Spain – though we emptied every supermarket we passed of guava juice from day 1.

Mangos of course… and delicious pineapples… incredibly sweet and delicious rambutans… and a few exotic fruits that I can’t remember the name of. So, so good.

In the photo: the green things are mangos, the brown things are mangosteens. The yellow things are starfruit. Big red things are jambu (you can see their white flesh in the one I’ve bitten), while the little red things are sour Indonesian attempts at strawberries. The hairy red-brown fruits are rambutans.

Food In Indonesia

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Indonesian people, like others, have forgotten their monkey origins, so they also eat other food apart from raw fruit and vegetables.

Indonesian cuisine is, almost surprisingly, very much what you might guess it to be; something of a splice between Asian and Indian. On the Asian side, it has a tendency towards stir-fry type vegetable dishes and a lot of rice and noodles. In common with Japan, Indonesian cuisine often features tofu and tempeh*, which is a blessing for us vegans. (Be sure to make sure that the tofu you’re being served is not egg tofu [tofu telur], though).

*Tempeh is, in fact, an Indonesian invention.

On the Indian side, we get a few curry type dishes and a tendency towards spicy food. Actually, it can sometimes be overwhelmingly spicy, though I think most places are smart enough to tone it down for tourists.

Indonesians also favour soups, juices, and funny, coloured, tapioca crackers (e.g. prawn crackers without necessarily any prawn). They often cut vegetables such as carrots into flower-like shapes.

We managed to eat very well, despite being vegans (and me needing to eat gluten-free). In the fashionable/touristic areas, there were plenty of vegetarian places, and in Bali there were even two restaurants serving some raw vegan cuisine.


Indonesian Restaurant House of Peace

In the capital Jakarta, on the other hand, we found two wonderful vegan restaurants that were run by Buddhists with a more traditional slant. Their creed brought them to vegan food, and somehow I think their inherited culture has endowed them with an almost freakishly good ability to make mock meat. It was almost all gluten free, and I swear their mock beef was so good it could change the world if only people knew about it. (After searching the web frantically, I found a U.S. supplier of what I think is the same product: May Wah Healthy Vegetarian Food Inc)

If you ever go to Jakarta, I emphatically recommend the vegan restaurant House of Peace. It’s got the best food, the best ambience, and a big library of spiritual books. I name it the best restaurant I’ve ever been to – no hyperbole.

Image: Us, with Irma and Graha, in the best restaurant in the Universe, House of Peace.

Indigos In Indonesia

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One last thing about Indonesia in general before moving on to explaining our voyage in a bit more detail.

The first thing that got me interested in Indonesia as a destination was the idea of it as a place with a lot of indigos in it. (If you need to know more about indigos, check out my article, How To Tell If You Are Indigo).

I met a lot of people in Indonesia through the facebook group I-Nesia (Indigo Indonesia). I was particularly inspired by the warm reception I got from them, though I think a part of it must have also been the Indonesian culture, not just the indigo nature.

From them, I got the idea that indigos are particularly numerous in Indonesia. I was interested in meeting them – I’m always interested in meeting new indigo family – and I was particularly interested in finding out the secret of this indigo influx. If it was real or just an illusion caused by unusual factors, and if it was real, why.

When I got to Indonesia, I very much enjoyed meeting up with my indigo friends. Most of them were authentic indigos, with one or two who I thought might be false indigos. A lot of them became very good friends. We also met at least three indigos through the people we’d met online.

As for the secret of indigos, I never got a very satisfactory answer, though it didn’t seem that important. Well, I didn’t run into indigos randomly on the street. But I guess if indigos were that common in any one place, that place would be undergoing revolution; it’d stand out. So if indigos are more common in Indonesia, I doubt they are that much more common.

I talked with two indigos who were working on some research into indigos – psychology PHD students. They said that they would survey random people for the indigo traits, and a lot of people would identify with them. This was interesting, but unfortunately I didn’t have much chance to talk about the research.

I have two pet theories. One is that the indigo concept may have become more fashionable in Indonesia due to chance. This would cause more people have have the opportunity to identify as indigo — and would spawn presumably more false indigos, although probably not more than in other places, in terms of proportion.

The other pet theory is that maybe a lot of indigos incarnated in Indonesia because the conditions are good. People are relatively kind and connected there, and there is a good vein of mysticism and not relatively much general suffering; and, as discussed above, entrepreneurialism is easier, making an indigo’s struggle for self-sovereignty that much less bitter.

In the end I don’t know. But as I said it didn’t seem to matter that much. Let mysteries be mysteries; a great holiday is worth it for its own sake.

Our Holiday In Indonesia

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In this monstrously long article I’ve explained a bit of everything that struck me as interesting about Indonesia in general. Now let me explain a little about the exact journey we took while we were there.

Jakarta

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We landed, by necessity, in Jakarta, the capital city. It’s at the Westernmost point of Java, the most populous island in Indonesia. In itself, including all of its outer areas, it contains approximately 20 million people. It’s a sprawling, chaotic mass of a city.

Kites In National Monument Park, Jakarta

To start with, you can’t help but think that Jakarta sucks. And it does, truly. Our friend Graha told us how intent he was on getting the heck out of the place.

But as time passed, I think we came to appreciate the city to an extent. Its complexity has a certain intoxicating quality to it. Really, the place is full of life. What sort of life — is the question, but life it is, and that means something. It’s an experience. You experience life.

In Jakarta we met Graha, Inez and Irma, all from I-Nesia. We had a great time with all of them. Irma showed some amazing hospitality by coming to pick us up at the airport. We later went shopping in one of Jakarta’s gargantuan shopping centres with I-Nesia, getting some insanely good prices on clothes, and ate twice at House of Peace with Graha and Irma.

The place that most stayed with me in Jakarta (which we actually saw on our return trip, just before the flight back) was the National Monument park. Not beautiful in itself, it was nonetheless a picture of joy with all the colourful kites and toy birds being flown around the place. I loved the vibe.

Image: Kites in National Monument Park, Jakarta

The Thousand Islands

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Shack In Thousand Islands, IndonesiaThat weekend, things aligned so that we could go and visit the Thousand Islands North of Jakarta with Graha and two of his friends (both indigo, a cool couple). It was a great experience, and in the boat ride there I had the brush with infinity that I wrote about in the beginning of this article.

Later I got sunburnt due to a rather inexperienced and gung-ho attitude towards sun exposure. The following days I experienced various shades of agony as I recovered from that.

Though I’m not feeling like going into a full blown story about it, I got the feeling that there was a lesson in this experience. At the beginning of the journey, after my infinity experience, I got a little giddy about how perfect everything was. I was making crazy jokes and jumping off bridges and generally revelling. Somehow I think that at some point I got attached to the good stuff — too attached. And when you make happiness conditional, unhappiness seems to always be just round the corner.

Later on I began to let go a bit more and let good stuff happen, or not, as it will. Grasping after happiness seems to drive it away, while flowing with things and calmly recieving gifts without struggling after them seems to bring about magical moments. The sort of magical moments you dream about. They happen when you let go and let God… the moment you try to have a hand in their appearence they disappear.

Yogyakarta

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From the Thousand Islands, we went back to Jakarta and from there travelled East to Yogyakarta. After a brief stop in Bandung — a city that I don’t feel qualified to write about — we got to this wonderful cosmopolitan city.

Yogya (as it is popularly called) is the cultural heart of Java. It contains the incredibly beautiful and potent temples such as the ancient Borobudur.

BorobudurRegarding Borobudur, I found it sadly commercialised – a 15$ entry fee for what should be considered a world heritage. By that I mean, it belongs to everyone. It somehow takes the sacredness away – or at least insults it – to turn it into a paid attraction. No reverence there, just shallowness.

The next temple we went to, we snuck in from the back and didn’t pay.

In Yogya we also saw a traditional ballet which was beautiful (if a bit long) and had ourselves a party with all of the wonderful vegetarian friendly restaurants geared towards tourists. We must have had a particular dish of fried tofu about 5 times. (In the last two days, in fact, we’ve been making it at home. If there’s interest I’ll put the recipe up on my food site).

From Yogya, we travelled to Bali, stopping at Mount Bromo on the way. Mount Bromo, an active volcano, was a spectacular sight. The volcanic ash was a bit hard on our lungs, though.

Bali

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Bali is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Indonesia – possibly THE most popular. Although the tourism itself takes away from some of its charm, you can see why.

Bali is one of the cultural centres of Indonesia, with a flourishing arts and crafts industry. We must have bought more things in Bali than in any other place combined. Ubud, where we stayed, is the heart of that, with many, many shops, plus traditional dance and some incredible food. The monkey forest, with its hindu temples and abundant monkeys, was fun, too.

Flower Offering In BaliBali is the only place in Indonesia which is still predominantly Hindu. While Hindu temples and even culture can still be found in other parts of Indonesia, the religion was pushed out with the advance of Islam. At the risk of offending some of our Indonesian friends, I have to say I think it’s a pity. Hinduism is generally closer to our beliefs than Islam is, and I think it lets people live a little freer. Again, forgive me if I’ve offended you with this – it’s just an opinion. :)

Besides having some beautiful temples, Bali is wonderful in terms of nature, including mountains, forests and white beaches. The next island to the East, Lombok, is equal to Bali in this, though. I preferred it as a tourist-free version of the same.

Because of the tourism industry, prices have risen immensely in Bali, making it often equal to Europe in terms of what you can expect to pay. The upside of this is that tourists can expect to be well catered for, with great hotels and delicious restaurants that included vegan and raw vegan options. But me and Roser, having counted on the low prices of Indonesia in general to make our holiday possible, didn’t like that too much. Staying in Bali was like a black hole for money.

We didn’t stay too long in Bali, just two days. We lived it up while we were there — but touristic places were just not our thing.

Image: One of the omnipresent flower offerings in Bali

Lombok

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View From Rinjani

The next stop was Lombok. After an eventful voyage where we first had to fend off scam artists trying to sell us 60€ tickets (the ferry ride cost about 3€), and where later someone tried to charge us 5€ to sit on a mattress in the boat (we told them to piss off), we got to Sengiggi.

Sengiggi is a small beach town which seems to function almost entirely for tourism sector. There, we spent several nights in a cheap but friendly hotel and I discovered what lounging on the beach really means.

From there, we took the fateful decision to climb the Rinjani volcano.

This guided trek was supposed to last three days and bring us to the summit of Rinjani, stopping to bathe in the hot springs on the way. I think at about half an hour in I was already puffing and asking myself when it would be over.

It’s not like I’m that unfit but the path was an insanely steep one. In the end, we reached the ridge of the volcanic crater at the beginning of day two, incredibly sore from the journey, and demanded someone to take us back when we saw what they were planning to do from there. In short, they were going to take us climbing up a Mordor-esque rocky peak that looked even steeper than the way we’d just come up.

The view from the ridge was incredible, but the exertion was even moreso. Despite the amazing view, I wouldn’t have done it if I’d known what was in store for me.

Image: The view from Rinjani

Gili Islands

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Beach Fire

The next few days I was literally (literally literally) hobbling like an old man. We took a day out on the beach, then took a boat for a few more days out in the famous Gili islands.

These islands really are famous for a reason. A perfect tropical paradise, with beautiful white sands and incredible coral.

The island we stayed in, Gili Meno, was the least populated of the three, and while it got most of its livelihood from tourism, it wasn’t a suffocating environment. On the contrary, there was plenty of space to be alone. Tourism had raised the prices though not excessively; except for the horse carts serving as taxis in the area, who, after long bargaining, we eventually had to tell to get stuffed.

The last day was the best. One of those magical moments you can’t plan for but just happen when they happen.

To begin with we scraped together some money and took an introductory course in scuba diving. When we got out into the deep sea, it was absolutely indescribable. Both me and Roser fixeated most of all on the turtles. These ancient creatures seem to live in a slower flow of time, and in their eyes they held infinity; gazing at them was an intensely spiritual experience. For a tiny short moment, I felt that time had stopped. That moment was all too brief, though.

That night we went to see the sunset, and as we rested there a man came and built a fire on the beach. It turned out that he was very much a kindred soul, and we talked, and sang, and danced, and meditated.

The day after he disappeared from our lives as we went our separate ways, and somehow it felt right. Not because I didn’t enjoy his company — totally the opposite — but because the sacredness of the moment seemed to dictate that there would be no grasping, no trying to hold onto what was experienced.

A beautiful gem in our memory.

From there it was back to Jakarta, and after spending two days shopping for clothes and food (including a massive sack of mangosteens) we took the plane back home.

For the interested, you can see photos on my profile on Facebook, or if you don’t have Facebook or haven’t added me yet, I also have them up on Photobucket.

Conclusion

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I’m not sorry to be back from Indonesia. I like my normal life too. Both being there, and coming back, to me, were absolutely perfect.

I’ve never had such a long holiday before, nor such a good one. Holidays with a family who I didn’t feel much in common with were nothing like being with my girlfriend on the road, and I’d also never been outside of Europe. The sights and experiences are so different from what I was used to. It’s hard for my eyes not to have been opened.

I’ve always observed in my experience that the coolest people I’ve known are the ones who have travelled (whether tourism or living in new places). So I want to keep travelling in the future.

We really want to see our friends from Indonesia again in the future too. We’ve invited them back here, and we may possibly go back some time again too. There’s enough to see in Indonesia for two trips, for sure.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this monster post, or whatever parts you’ve read of it. And I hope it inspires you to do some travelling too, I think it’s so worth it.

Sophia


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{ 1 comment… add one }

  • Triadi May 27, 2014, 6:22 pm

    Thank you for your article about Indonesia, i like it. Many places that you have not visit. such as The paradisical 17 Islands Riung Marine Park of Flores, Lengkuas Island at Bangka Belitung, Raja Ampat at Papua island or etc. about foods, many foods for vegans too, gado- gado is the best, googling it :)

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