Being the largest archipelagic country in the whole world, Indonesia has always interested me. Imagine, if our country, the Philippines, has 7,641 islands and we have so many beautiful places to go to, what more of Indonesia that has 13,466 islands?
Our group, the #ShembotSquad, has eyed Indonesia to be our next travel goal after our escapade in Balabac in 2017. And from last week of February to first week of March 2018, we have explored Indonesia’s beautiful islands. From the interesting beaches of Yogyakarta, the centuries-old temples of Borobudur, the mystical and spectacular Mt. Bromo to the interesting creatures and stunningly luscious coves of Komodo National Park, the fantastic travel destinations in Lombok and the wild, exhilarating Bali, we have tried to explore Indonesia the best way we can.
Read on to prepare yourself should you decide to travel to the Emerald of the Equator: Indonesia!
IMPORTANT REMINDERS BEFORE GOING TO INDONESIA
- Secure your passport! This is a given every time you travel out of the country. If you already have one, make sure it isn’t expired yet. Renew it as soon as you see that it’s nearing 6 months of expiry/ validity.
- Indonesia is a big country! In fact, it is the 14th largest in the world for having more than 1.9 million square kilometers in terms of lands area. This country consists of many islands that are far from each other much like the Philippines. Since our group was planning to visit many places in a relatively short period of time, we opted to travel from each destination to the next by riding the airplane. Yes! Our trip consisted of many flights, about 8 in total!
- We went out of the country via Manila and entered Indonesia via Jakarta. From Jakarta, we flew to Yogyakarta. After exploring Yogyakarta for 2 days, we flew to Surabaya where we would witness and experience Mt. Bromo. After this, we departed Surabaya and flew to Denpasar (Bali). We did not explore Bali yet, because we had to go farther east to explore Komodo National Park. From Denpasar, we flew to Labuan Bajo where the gateway to Komodo National Park is located. After exploring this paradise on earth, we flew to Lombok and spent a few days there. Finally, we flew back to Denpasar and explored Bali for a few days before finally heading back to the country.
- Indonesia’s currency is RUPIAH, and you might be surprised that your thousands of pesos are equivalent to millions here. Anyway, it is not wise to bring Philippine peso here because the exchange rate between Indonesia Rupiah (IDR) and Philippine Peso (PHP) isn’t boding well for the peso. Believe me when I say that you’d lose a lot of money when you exchange your hard-earned Philippine money directly to IDR. Instead, exchange your PHP to US Dollars (USD) before going to Indonesia. Good currency exchange shops are located in Greenhills and some parts of Manila so if you want to have a good deal exchanging your money, go to these places. When you finally reach Indonesia, that’s the time you have to exchange your USD to IDR. You’d have a better deal exchanging your money in money changers outside the airport, but for the purpose of having some money to spend for the immediate time, exchange some of your money here.
- The largest country in Southeast Asia offers some of the tastiest foods out there! And one thing is consistent with their meals- they contain at least one SPICY dish! No, make that two or three. Haha. If you like spicy food, then you’ll love their food! If you do not love spicy food, let’s just say try to like it while you are traveling here because you’re going to encounter them every meal!
- Bring with you a respectable BUDGET depending on the duration of your travel, the activities that you’ll be doing and the products that you’ll be buying. It’s always better to have extra money on hand than find yourself short for your expenses! Our pocket money for our Indonesian trip ranged from P25,000 to P35,000 and that is mainly due to the variety of activities that we did in the country. The amount given is exclusive of our flight expenses!
- Bring with you ample amount of clothes. Depending on what you’re planning to do for each and every single day of your stay, the number of clothes should be within your baggage allowance or hand-carry baggage! Do not hesitate to add baggage allowances in your flight (thank God because most of our flights in Indonesia already have free baggage allowance just like our own Philippine Airlines) because you don’t want to be having problems carrying your big bags around.
- Decide whether you’d be buying a SIM card that you can use to avail the Internet, a pocket WIFI in which your whole group can benefit or just rely on the Internet in the hotels/hostels where you’d be staying (if available there, that is). It’s a must to just enjoy the place and the company you are with, but also be mindful of the people and work that you’d be leaving for a while. Message and update them as necessary.
- Prepare your cameras and phones! You don’t want to go traveling here in Indonesia without capturing some of the most beautiful places that you’ll ever see, do you? Bring with you trusty cameras and phones to take snapshots of your time here with your friends (or family and loved ones, perhaps). Bring with you extra SD cards and batteries to avoid the hassle of deleting pictures and videos every now and then.
HOW TO DO IT
- DECIDE WHETHER YOU’LL BE TRAVELING HERE SOLO OR IN GROUP. This one matters because you’ll be spending a lot of money if you’re going to travel solo. If you decide to travel here with a group, it matters whom you will be traveling with. Word of advice, travel with your friends whom you’re willing to go through the best and also possibly, the worst. Trust me, you’ll be spending so much time with each other, which means you’ll be going through a lot! Whether you like it or not, the trip’s going to be a test of your friendship. Haha. If you decided to travel with your special someone, it’s gonna test your relationship then! With your family? You may do so but I think you know there are repercussions to that. Would you travel with them like you’re always in a hurry? Hmm, I don’t think so.
- PLAN AHEAD. Before going to Indonesia, bear in mind the places you want to go to. Research about their geographical location and also how to go in and out of each of these places. Remember, Indonesia is a very large country. You don’t want to be scrambling because you do not know what to do next while you are here. In your travel planning, have in mind these three factors: key travel destination, time frame and budget.
*In our trip, it was mainly my good friend, Louis Brian Cancino, who conceived of the general plan of our Indonesia itinerary. He consulted us along the way and so we contributed based on what we wanted to do and places we wanted to visit. My other good friend, Carlo Enriquez, was his second-hand in researching for our itinerary. He’s able to roughly specify the activities that we would be doing on an hour-to-hour basis. Even though our itinerary wasn’t always followed, it still served as a guideline on our entire trip. Remember, it’s always good and wise to have a plan especially if you only have a limited amount of time to spend in a number of travel destinations that you want to explore!
- DELEGATE ROLES IN THE GROUP. While it’s always good to be doing something for the group, it isn’t healthy to do all the work by yourself. Delegate tasks within the group. Ask somebody to book for the flights that you’d need for the whole trip. Tell someone to contact somebody who isn’t replying in the group chat to clear something that needs to be clarified. Ask someone from the group to look for hotels or hostels that you can avail on each of the places you’re going to. I hope you’re getting the drift of what I want to say.
- BOOK, CONTACT AND UPDATE! Now, it’s time to book for your flights and contact the people necessary for your travel. Negotiate as well as you can to get the best deal out there. Update the whole group with important developments in your travel plan.
*In our case, we have booked most of the flights going in and out and around Indonesia a few months before the trip. There’s one that we had to rebook due to conflict in schedule days before the trip. Try to avoid this by reviewing the specifics of your itinerary as soon as possible.
- ENJOY! This is of utmost importance. You do not go to Indonesia just by merely being there. You have to be in the moment, take awesome pictures and enjoy your trip with your friends!
*I am proud of our group as we were able to accomplish a 10-day travel in the islands of Indonesia together. Such a big adventure to pull off!
A GLIMPSE OF WHAT YOU CAN EXPLORE IN INDONESIA
This is our first travel destination in Indonesia. Main draws of Yogyakarta (called “Jogjakarta” by locals but “Yogyakarta” is also accepted, though the latter is more formal than the former as explained to me by a local) include the huge waves in Timang Beach as well as the ancient temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. Aside from Timang Beach, you can also head to lesser known beaches here.
This is where I felt best while exploring Indonesia. I can still clearly recall the events that day we were here. In spite of having only slept for about two hours, we headed to a viewpoint where we can witness the sunrise with the view of Mt. Bromo and nearby mountains and volcanoes. It was one of the most beautiful sunrises that I’ve ever seen! Imagine the dark skies being pierced by light- white, yellow, orange and then red hues – until a full blown of sunshine has emerged enlightening and beautifying the landscape! I was happy to witness it then but I got so much happier afterwards when we headed to the caldera of Mt. Bromo. It was my first time to be going to a volcano’s crater! And what a view it was when we went there! But then, a most surprising thing happened: sulfur mists that resemble swirls of clouds embraced us while we were on top! There came a point when we couldn’t see anything around us but ourselves! It was such a surreal moment!!!
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Now, here is where I really felt what Indonesia as an archipelagic country was all about. For two days, we boarded a special boat customized for travelers traversing Flores Sea and exploring the southeastern islands of Indonesia.
We froze in disbelief that we were seeing true-to-life dragons! Haha just kidding. They might not be real dragons, but they were as bad ass as well. The Komodo Dragon, dubbed as the last dinosaur, is the largest lizard in the world. Being carnivorous, they can grow up to 3 meters and weigh up to 200 pounds! Not only that, they have poisonous saliva that can cause death to an unwilling prey!
Rinca Island is one of the four islands where komodo dragons reside. This island is such a beauty with its lush hills and vegetation. It felt like I was in Mararison Island for a second when we were there!
I saw the pinkest beach that I’ve ever seen in the island of Komodo! I couldn’t believe that a beach can be as pink as what we saw there! Truth be told, it was more pinkish than what I have seen in our own pink beaches in Palawan and Zamboanga City! FYI, the sand in pink beaches gets its pink hues from red corals that are crushed by waves then mixed with sand.
The one that matches the view that we experienced in Mt. Bromo was that of Padar Island! An island that has these three coves bearing white sand beaches is so beautiful it can make you wonder about how beautiful life is! Hiking towards the top won’t be that easy but it is going to be more than worth it!
Other activities that we did here in the Komodo National Park include snorkeling! There was this point in the Flores Sea where we saw manta rays swimming with us!
One of the alternative travel destinations while staying in Bali, Lombok is known for its amazing waterfalls, fine sand beaches and party vibe. You’d also meet a lot of foreigners here! Just be careful whom you’re going to deal with because some of them might be looking for some other kind of fun.
Bali is the place where travelers and tourists alike won’t lack of any activity to do! From partying in Jalan Raya Legian to go swinging in Ubud, from witnessing beautiful Buddhist and Hindu temples to coffee-tasting and shopping in outlet stores, there’s always something for anyone in Bali!
I hope you got hyped on what you can see, do and explore in Indonesia! This country is bound to make any traveler’s heart happy, contented and gratified. Watch out for my individual blog posts of each of these places we went to! Thanks, guys!