Indonesia

Indonesia was the first stop on the South East Asia leg of our trip and it turned out to be a tough learning curve for us. We travelled through Java, Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands during our six week trip to Indonesia and learnt a lot along the way. Find out more about our journey through Indonesia by checking out our stories, tips, videos and pictures below.

The best parts of our turbulent trip to Indonesia were without a doubt the days when we were out exploring the country, as opposed to working in a hotel room or killing time hanging around in one place trying to stick to our stringent budget. Our happiest days were those spent visiting Borobodour temple and Mount Bromo, snorkelling on the Gili Islands and taking on the Campuhan Ridge walk in Ubud.  Another highlight was our one-day Eco Cycling tour; we got to explore the countryside and get an insight into Bali life as we biked through the heart of the island – here’s how it went.

One of the things we had been looking forward to about Indonesia was the prospect of slowing down after two hectic months of zipping around New Zealand and Australia. Back in London I’d organised 60-day visas so that we’d be able to stop and catch our breath once we arrived in Indonesia. I had pictured us staying in luxurious, cheap hotels where we could go swimming; I imagined days filled with relaxing and exploring combined with plenty of time to write and catch up with freelance work – it would be perfect.

Ubud became, without a doubt, our favourite place in Indonesia - a cool, leafy haven away from the strangeness of Java, the bars in Kuta and the fierce heat of the beaches in Lombok and the Gili islands. Overall, we had a pretty tough time in Indonesia; the six weeks we spent there were marked with struggles, tears, illness, frustration and plenty of soul searching. Ubud, however, became a kind of refuge for us and we look back on our time there as the most serene during our six-week stay – here are the highlights of our time in Ubud Bali.

I’m a great fan of monkeys and apes. Back home my mum and I often visit Monkey World, an ape rescue centre in Dorset; when we went on safari in Kenya my favourite animal wasn’t one of the impressive big five, it was the gangster of the animal world – the baboon. So, I was pretty excited at the prospect of getting up close to some Macaques at the Monkey Forest in Ubud – that was, until they started attacking us.
No trip to Indonesia would be complete without visiting Bali, the most well-known of all the country’s 17,000 islands. We spent more than half our six-week trip to Indonesia in Bali exploring the beaches, rice paddies, volcanoes and temples. We ate tasty vegetarian meals, trekked and cycled in Ubud, experienced the bright lights of Kuta and chilled out in Kerobokan – here’s the story of our trip to Bali.
Despite the nightmare of our first few days in Java, we were determined to do one more thing before we fled to Bali – hike up to watch the sunrise over mighty Mount Bromo. We were moving fast through Java, an island half the size as the UK but infinitely more challenging to get around. Our second sweltering train journey took us six hours from Yogyakarta to Surabaya, a city almost as huge, ugly and difficult to negotiate as Jakarta. Visits to Mount Bromo are popular with tourists since it’s the most well-known active volcano on the island, but in typical Java-fashion, it still took us hours to find and book a tour.

I couldn’t stop them any longer – flopping down on the hotel bed I buried my miserable face in the pillow and let the tears flow. I’d been holding them back for days, trying to ignore the disquieting feeling in my gut that I’d made a terrible mistake coming to this country. We’d been in Indonesia less than a week and I was already longing to leave – what had gone so horribly wrong?