Sunday, September 25, 2011

Indonesia wrap-up

This wrap up is going to be a little different from the others. I've struggled in Indonesia. Yes, there was the decompressing and thinking spree in Gili T and the seasickness on my way to Komodo. But this struggle came more from a disconnect that I've felt overall during my time in Indonesia with the country itself. I felt it the first time I was here, back in July with Jenna. I chalked it up to other stuff, because what's not to like about Indonesia? To be honest I can't come up with a single identifiable reason for this feeling. And trust me, I've had HOURS to analyze it.
One factor has been my transportation experiences. They've all been trying and left a bitter taste in my mouth by the end. Getting to Gili T was frustrating and I felt taken advantage of by the time I made it to the island. Traveling from Flores to Bali was also long and agonizing. There was a very frustrating encounter with some bemo drivers that resulted in taking a taxi instead. I understand that all these people are trying to make a living and some of it is a cultural differences as well as a language barrier. But they hassle you non-stop, trying to beat you down, get you in a corner to make the sale.
Then there's the issue with cost. I feel like most of Indonesia is kinda pricey for what you're getting. I knew Gili T and Ubud would be more expensive, but 150,000R ($17) for a fan and cold/salt water room in Labuanbajo? That harbor town was a dump! I actually paid LESS in Ubud and I got air con and fresh hot water. It's not like Thailand, Laos, Malaysia where there's an abundance of tasty and cheap street food. I found a lot of the warung shacks to be on the sketchy side. Leaving me eating in more restaurants and therefore paying higher prices. I would around towns going where's all my money going? Because Indonesia is a pretty poor country. I would place it between Thailand and Cambodia in terms of poorness. Yet I found cheaper rooms and cheaper food in both of those countries. Oh wait, I know where the money's going. It's so men and toddlers can smoke (see post on transportation)!
These factors and more have left me feeling kinda "eh" about Indonesia as a whole. Which is strange because I've liked everywhere I've been so far. Even if it wasn't the most mind blowing life experience I have always been able to take something positive from each place. I can't say the same for Indonesia. Sorry Indonesia, it's nothing personal. I will say Ubud has done a lot to ease this feeling of disconnect. The Balinese are known for their smiles. They smile from the heart, a true genuine smile and kindness radiate from them. Did I get asked if I wanted taxi, motorbike, or transportation 20 times a day? Yes! But the harshness I felt elsewhere wasn't present with the sweet Balinese.

Here is the Indonesia wrap-up

1. Ubud and yoga classes: between smoothies and all the savansana poses I rested, relaxed, and recharged myself.

2. Rice fields: I wish I could figure out a way to bottle up the greenness of the fields to take home for a rainy day.

3. Mount Bromo: you might not remember this, but I climbed this active volcano at 4am for sunrise back in July with Jenna, and loved it.   

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