When in Indonesia, there is a lot more reasons to enjoy its sights and sounds – and that is, not just by tuning in to Eat Bulaga! Indonesia. There are a lot of things to do that a 3 days, 2 nights vacation might not be enough. First, you need to decide if you want to explore Bali, Jakarta or the other little islands of this exotic country. One thing is for sure, you will need your usual dabarkads (friends) and travel buddies to explore Indonesia’s more than 18,000 islands. Or maybe, not. I went there alone and got back to Manila with more friends in my Facebook account.
Borobudur Temple in Java, Indonesia
I got the chance to live for a month in the country which so much reminds me of the Philippines – from the people, the music (yes, I heard Christian Bautista’s songs being played in the radio!), to the usual traffic and demonstrations. I was a bit hesitant to accept the offer and travel more than 5 hours to live in the country. I was expecting I would be sent to Kenya, South Africa or Russia for a volunteer assignment. But Indonesia didn’t just offered me a once in a lifetime experience and good memories, but more importantly, friendship.
Here are my 10 reasons why I love Indonesia (and why I am still dreaming of going back to the country).
1. Good Food
If you love good food with that spice tickling your palette with every bite, you will love Indonesian cuisine. The dishes are mostly cooked with chili; or if not, served with chili sauce or minced Bird’s Eye Chili. The table is usually set with dips and sauces – but be careful when getting a serving, they might be too spicy and hot for Filipino tastebuds.
Just like the Philippines, Indonesia is an archipelago, which doesn’t just mean beaches but also seafood! Expect seafood and fish in the dining table and restaurant menus. If you love vegetables, there are also variety of choices. Gado-gado is a vegetables dish with peanut sauce and shrimp crackers. It is one dish that I truly miss that made me forget about our very own Kare-kare.
Grilled meat and fish are also favorites which are best eaten with hands (yes, they do it too!) Just don’t forget to request for soy sauce and bottle of Bintang (local beer).
A dining etiquette, left hand is considered a “dirty hand”, so always pass the food using your right hand.
2. Dark Roasted Coffee
If you love dark roasted coffee with high acidity and rich aroma, Indonesia will be your Mecca. Indonesia is known as one of the leading exporters of coffee. The finest brews and grinds can be found, not just in coffee shops, but in local markets. In the South Sulawesi region, I discovered a good coffee from the locals who brew their coffee traditionally. Not with complex coffeemaker, but with just a pot and stove.
The Toraja Coffee is one of the best coffee I tasted. The aroma itself is enough to keep me awake and enjoy the cup of fresh brew. It is good even without the usual vanilla, or caramel syrup.
3. A Certified Millionaire
I don’t need to wait for my retirement age, or hope to win in the lottery to be a millionaire. All I have to do is to book a flight to Indonesia, and exchange some dollars, and call myself a millionaire!
Php4,410 is all you need to get IDR1,000,000. Only in Indonesia, you will experience paying for thousands or hundred thousands, for a single meal. Even my friends from Austria, Brazil, Mexico, India and United States were happy to be millionaires (like me) in this exotic country.
Just a tip, Indonesia Rupiah cannot be exchanged and used in Manila. So make sure to exchange them all or use them for shopping before boarding the plane.
4. A Visit to the Tana Toraja
It is ironic that Tana Toraja is listed in the book, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die (by Patricia Schultz) and this exotic land of Toraja is famous for its unusual and elaborate funeral feasts. Tana Toraja is also famous for its houses with boat-shaped roofs.
But before you go and close this window, let me tell you, I am not posting any pictures here or share any details of the month-long funeral ceremony. Let me just share with you some pictures and a shout-out – Yes! That’s another place down to the 1,000 places to see before I die!
Traditional graves in Tana Toraja
A white buffalo is offered during the funeral ceremony
5. Beautiful Mosques
Indonesia is a Muslim country with around 88% of its total population composed of Muslim. Aside from the beautiful buildings and interesting architectures, you will find beautiful Mosques all over the country which not also serve as places of worship, but also tourist attraction.
6. Wonderful and Warm People
I am not surprised with this fact. Filipinos and some ethnic groups of Indonesia came from the same race, and we probably share the same values, like hospitality.
From the Indonesian guy who I seated next with in the plane, to the hotel staff and the village people we met, everyone was so warm and friendly. They greeted us with their sweetest smile, and even adopting the greetings that we were used to – from handshakes to kisses on the cheeks – they are that flexible and warm. It was even more awesome when most of the people we met could gamely do monster shots/wacky poses (see below).
The hospital employees (client site) did a monster pose
We had a lot of good samaritan encounters in the country – like, when one time my friend left her expensive sunglasses in the village. After an hour, we went back and found an old woman who kept it and prayed that we would come back for it. Another time, when my friend left her bag in the village after she came from a traditional wedding; one village woman ran after their car service holding her bag and calling out her name. Then, during a very long road trip, my friend had to use the toilet and just asked one humble home along the road if she could use the washroom. They welcomed her without hesitation.
This article wouldn’t come to an end if I would list all the good things we experienced. For now, here are some fun pictures to share with the fun and friendly locals we met.
Students, divers and advocates of Coral Reef Check
These boys are bugging me about Julie Ann and Elmo Magalona
They are bunch of fun kids!
I and my friend Cheryl (USA) with our Muslim sisters (and little brothers)
The ladies do watch Pangako Sayo Series and fell inlove with Kristine Hermosa and Jericho Rosales loveteam!
They are soo cute!
7. Bahasa Indonesia Language
It is always interesting to know and be able to speak a different language. But what is more interesting is to know phrases/words from different language with the same meaning as your native language. Below are some of the Tagalog/Filipino words with the same meaning in Bahasa Indonesia.
puti = white
kanan = right direction
mahal = expensive
takot = afraid
guro/guru = teacher
So even if English is not commonly used in Indonesia, there is no reason to be afraid at interacting with the locals. Or, you can always consult the ever reliable Google Translator. Here are some of the phrases I commonly used:
Selamat Pagi = Good Morning
Selamat Malam = Good Evening
Terima Kasih = Thank you!
Indonesia may not be the first place you can think of when you say “shopping”, but the country also hosts designer brands and local favorites like Forever 21, Payless, and The Little Things She Needs. I know, I am talking a girl’s language.
Grand Mall beside Hotel Kempinski, Jakarta
But the great fashion finds of Indonesia are the Malong (sold at local market for only Php100), scarves (there are alot of them!), and Batik which make a good souvenir.
A Batik Dress for Women
9. Relaxing Spa Salons
With non-stop activities to do, things to discover, and places to see in Indonesia, you need relaxing massage to keep you ready for the next day’s trip. Indonesia is the perfect place to get relaxing massages – elaborate spa salons, with aromatic essences, the sight of rose petals, and a serving of your favorite tea drink is just perfect – as you close your eyes and think of the calm sea and imagine birds chirping.
A suggested place is Celi Emas in Bali.
In Bali, you might also consider visiting Robin Lim (a CNN Hero Awardee) and her health clinic. Too bad, we were not able to meet her and visit her nurturing nest.
10. Endless List of Things to Do
One month was not enough for me to do all the wonderful things that Indonesia was offering me. Just to give you an idea of what else you can do:
Go clubbing and dance (or even sing with the live band).
Yes, we did it!
We, Filipinos love Karaoke/Videokes (and I am the only exception but I had fun!).
Be a kid once again in Trans Studio –
an indoor theme park in Makassar, Indonesia.
Ride a boat, dive and enjoy the rich marine life in this side of Asia.
A must-visit place is the Bira Beach.
Enjoy the nature and sunset from a different side of the globe.
Or just pose with your friends, and rock on!
When in Indonesia, there are more than 10 reasons to fall inlove with its beauty, no matter how similar it looks like with our beloved Philippines.
Thank you to my friends, Cheryl Patchin, Jessica, Tom (USA), Vivek, Nitu, Arun (India), Javier (Mexico), Marcelo (Brazil) and Sabine (Austria) for sharing their pictures for this article; and to the wonderful people of Indonesia for the amazing experience!
When in Indonesia: 10 Reasons To Visit Indonesia