There can be places in the world that don’t get their fair share of promotion, there are so many little tucked away corners of the world that are hiding wonderful gems and secrets that only the locals know about. Indonesia is one of those countries part of the issue with Asian countries is that they are often overshadowed by the places like China or Japan. But of all the wonders Indonesia has, from its eight UNESCO world heritage sites to the Borobudur, which is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, how do you explore Indonesia like a true local?
To begin your quest to sample the wonders of Indonesia like a true local, you need to find the best way to ditch the typical tourist trail, and while the temples and world heritage sites are truly amazing wonders, it’s time to get truly integrated with its culture, and that means a few simple approaches.
Explore the islands
If you want to get a true experience of the islands of Indonesia, avoid Bali, as beautiful as it is. And while Bali has some of the most beautiful sights you could ever expect to see in the world, there are so much more that nobody tends to visit. Sumatra, arguably better known for the Sumatran tiger, is one of the largest islands in western Indonesia, after Borneo and New Guinea. Borneo is another one and has one of the oldest rainforests in the world, as well as grand sites, including its capital city, Samarinda.
Relish The Nightlife
Indonesia has some elegant night spots, not least in its capital city, Jakarta. If you’re after a respectful and restrained night out, South Jakarta is the place to go. You’ve got trendy areas, such as SCBD, as well as Mega Kuningan, which is full of the spirit of the west. And if you find yourself drawn to these more westernized areas, you may want to rent a property while you are staying over there, via sites like https://rumahdijual.com/, so you can truly get a sense for the place. If you have a taste for the nightlife, there is always a busy nightclub in south Jakarta that is open usually until 3 or 4 in the morning.
Eat The Right Food
Now we’re onto the good stuff! The street food in Indonesia is probably going to be the tastiest food you will ever eat. There are street stalls or food carts, known as warung, that can be found on almost any street corner, and serve the tastiest of food. Be warned, it can be very spicy, meals such as sambal manis, which is a chili sauce, is usually served with something like catfish. However, there are milder dishes, such as sate ayam, which is basically chicken skewers, barbecued, served with a peanut sauce. There are also various delicacies that are the pride, but for the cholesterol conscious, there are various steamed foods, such as the lemur, which are rice balls that have been steamed in banana leaves and have soy flavored chicken on the inside. The one trick to eating like a local, just go where it’s busiest! The problem with street food is that it can vary in quality, so just go where everybody else is! That may mean waiting a bit longer for your food, but it will be totally worth it!
Get Into Rural Living
While there are numerous beautiful beaches, if you’re looking for a bit more of what makes Indonesia tick, you need to explore the landscape of the country. Indonesia has many rice paddies, as well as vast tea plantations, but if you really want to get under the skin of living in Indonesia, the best way is to organize a homestay with a local family. You may be forgiven for thinking that some locals are reticent to let people into their homes, and you would be quite right, but there are some who are starting to come around to the idea of opening their doors to foreign visitors. But there are also organizations that can help organize this for you, such as on http://volunteerinjava.com/, that offer opportunities for people to stay in homes as well as volunteer in west java. For a truly authentic experience of living in this landscape, you can get down and dirty and work in the rice paddies if you really want to. If this doesn’t float your boat, you can go exploring the local markets, or have a gander at the fishing villages that float on water!
Know Your Transport Links
The concept of road travel in Indonesia is akin to putting your life in your own hands every time you don’t show on the road, regardless of the vehicle you step in. From bicycles to horse and carts, tuk-tuks to taxi, the experience is unlike any commute you have had to endure. The one thing to bear in mind with these long journeys is that there will be delays, and very narrow seats, so if you’ve got long legs, you may curse Indonesian public transport! The trick to navigating travel in Indonesia is to look for the cheapest options, because sometimes the brand new couches cost exactly the same as the slow, old school buses. And they won’t tell you where you need to get off, and signs, or even bus stations, are rarities, so be sure to alert the bus driver, and maybe even a few passengers, where you need to get off. If you’re trying to make short journeys, the best method of travel is to take a moto-taxi. But in doing this, you might be experiencing a frustrating journey, especially if you have a driver who tends to ignore the rules of the road. Before you get in, agree on a price, especially if you stick out like a sore thumb or a tourist. Another handy tip, wear a helmet. Although there are many moto-taxis that have passenger helmets, some don’t, and make sure you don’t get on these bikes!
Speak The Lingo
This may not have even crossed your mind, but speaking the local language, even a few words, can help you out a lot. Although it’s not as simple as getting the local Indonesian phrasebook out and saying a few words, there are different languages in different regions, such as Balinese, Sudanese, and even some villages speak Dutch! But to navigate past all this, learn some phrases in Bahasa Indonesia, the official language. Here are a few tasters to start you off, “selamat pagi” means “good morning,” and “nama sayi” means “my name is.” This will get you from A to B, but if you’ve got an early morning flight back home, and you need to know where your flight is departing from, you may want to speak to someone in your native tongue instead! Knowing a few of the basic phrases means you’ll be able to order food, find the nearest bathroom, or get some basic directions at least!
Indonesia is a land of indescribable beauty; the many islands that surround it, as well as all of the beautiful beaches, make it to paradise to explore. Most people think about Bali when they think of Indonesia, but if you really want to get there and experience the culture like a local does, these should provide you with the suitable starting blocks. As much as we would all benefit from a beautiful beach vacation, and Indonesia certainly has many of those, you need to experience the true culture of Indonesia. So get some food, enjoy the nightlife, and be careful when navigating the roads!