Halo from Indonesia
Halo, the Bahasa word for “Hello.”
We stayed in Bali for six days and Jakarta for three. Indonesia’s culture is probably the most different from America’s that we’ve experienced so far, Mexico being the second.
In Bali/Jakarta, you can eat very cheaply, and still be getting great quality food. For just $2.00 USD, you can get a bowl of soup, a large plate of meat (duck, pork, chicken), AND a large plate of rice. Go ahead and grab a big glass of orange juice as well for just fifty cents. You can get dessert (little rolls shaped like cylinders and made out of coconut, with some brown sugar in the middle, served hot), for just a couple cents more.
Indonesian food is great, spicy, and filling. Noodles, rice, curry and meat make up a lot of the food served in Indonesia. A nice plate of noodles is delicious with the right soup and iced tea. Of course, you could just go to the mall and grab some pizza from Pizza Hut (no joke), if you’re not feeling adventurous, or just don’t like spicy food.
Shops line every street in Bali, selling things from dresses and t-shirts, to beautifully carved wooden animals and meditating buddhas. If you do so much as look at a leather bracelet, the owner will race over, put it on your wrist, and name his/her price. And trying to get out of it is hard: every time you say no, they lower the price, even if you don’t want it.
But how do you get to all these towns and markets? There are lots of different ways to get around Bali and Jakarta. There are, of course, taxis, where you flag someone down, get in, and tell them where you want to go. There are angkots, which are essentially shuttles, that cram as many people as they can into their vehicle, stopping at different points in the city. Ankgots have a single bench lining the inside of the car, no middle seats.
There are also motorcycle taxis, called ojeks, which are exactly what they sound like. We never rode in one of those, but they are a fast and relatively safe way to get around in the crazy streets of Bali/Jakarta. Just tell them where you want to go, hop on, and enjoy the ride. You could also rent a motorbike, but streets are CRAZY in Indonesia.
There is almost no order on the roads. Motorcycles weave in and out of the smallest gaps in cars, and cars weave in and out of gaps as well. Give them a little space, and they will take it. Often there are one lane streets that are not one way. Cars are constantly veering off into the grass, allowing other cars driving in the opposite direction to pass them.
When you want to enter a temple, usually you will have to put on a robe or something like that, as a sign of respect. One of the temples had monkeys, which we visited right after we went to the monkey forest, which was, of course, filled with monkeys. You could buy bananas, and monkeys will jump on your back and try to grab them from your hands.
Overall, Indonesia is a great to place to try new food, a great place to explore nature when you go to the right places, and a great place to see the monkeys, or just experience a new culture.