Duration: 16 days
Expenses: AUD$532 or AUD$31/day
Internal Flights: Surabaya to Bali AUD$41
Indonesia really feels like a place I could backpack around for months. The food is fantastic, the people are kind, the islands are beautiful and I only saw a handful of them. Unfortunately I only budgeted 16 days in Indonesia – 8 for East Java and 8 for Lombok. The purpose of my trip was to hike Mt Rinjani (Lombok) and Mt Bromo (East Java), but I feel fairly certain that I will come back to see more someday. Indonesia has so much to offer: mountains, volcanoes, jungle, rainforest, beaches, diving, hiking, food and more!
I nabbed a cheap flight from Singapore direct to Surabaya with Air Asia and I was on my way. Surabaya was a pleasant surprise, though really only due to the people I met and the things I experienced. I never stepped foot in the city centre!
The volcanic landscape was stunning and uniquely different to volcanic landscapes that I’d seen before in the Atacama Desert and Iceland. The 3am alpine style start was tough, but the sunrise was certainly worth it.
From Mt Bromo I joined a small group and we went to the Ijen Crater together in the far east to see the blue fire phenomenon. I can’t say I’d seen anything like that before. Before we went there I couldn’t have said that I’ve nearly choked to death on sulphur dioxide before either. So it was a first for many things!
After that I enjoyed the suicide bus ride back around to Probolinggo, got scammed by Mr Toto (though I like to think I still came out ahead) and then headed back to Surabaya briefly to grab my bags and fly to Bali.
After a very brief stay at Kuta Beach (let’s not talk about that ever again), I met up with my amigos from Java and we travelled from Bali across to Lombok. Andrés and I stayed in Senggigi to chill out for a few days whilst Carlos headed down to the southern beaches.
A few days passed and then we all met up again to travel to Senaru and tackle Mt Rinjani. We developed a bit of a phobia of tour agencies and rip off package deals so we decided to go tramping on our own without a guide. We put the package tourists to shame and then were put to shame ourselves by the porters and their incredible flip flop hiking abilities. You’ll never see such tough people.
The sunrise at Mt Rinjani was incredible and in my opinion the landscape is best appreciated from the crater rim. Hot springs were handy to sooth tired feet which still had a further 9 hours of hiking to get back to Senaru. In total it was 18.5 hours of hiking in 36 hours.
Sonja from the guesthouse in Senggigi picked us up and dropped me at Bangsal harbour for the crossing to the Gili Islands. I stayed two nights on Gili Air, the happy medium island of the group of three.
Indonesian food is fantastic! Do try capcay, bakso, gado-gado, penyet, lalapan and, well, if you can’t find fried rice with any of those dishes somewhere your really doing something wrong!
Like Indonesia as a whole, I think I will need to head back to the Gili Islands again one day. They are a great place to chill on a budget, but still have loads to offer. I definitely added a few shades of brown here and on the ride back to Denpassar airport.
It was just a quick sample of 4 of the 922 inhabited islands of Indonesia. There are plenty of bad eggs in Indonesia to be wary of, namely tourism operators and taxi drivers, but don’t let them discourage you because I’m sure the majority of Indonesians are kind and honest like so many that I met. Remember to look after the little people at warungs and guesthouses. They are the most humble and kind people.
From Indonesia I then flew to Vietnam where the wet season was brewing in the south, but fortunately Hanoi and the north run on a different weather system because it’s such a long country.