Saturday, 4 March 2017

Indonesia -a review

The last couple of days have been pretty much covered by my photos, tomorrow will be getting to Medan and then I'm off to the jungle, so I decided to review a whole country. Because why not?

1. Do not travel by road, you will have worked this out from my previous posts but seriously just don't. Getting anywhere takes about a day, roads are bad and driving worse and let's not even mentioned what pass for vehicles. Take internal flights it will be worth it.

2. Food is highly variable. I had some amazing meals especially in Ubud, but I also had some terrible ones. In Java the sauces tend to be watery and in Sumatra many places think food counts as fresh and hot if it has been cooked the same day. On the other hand Sumatra also provided Jemny's on Samosir, where I just ate freshly caught and fried lake fish, which was great. If in doubt go for the fruit, there is lots often straight off the trees.

3. English is rarely spoken and even people who think they speak it will struggle with questions like "What time is the bus".

4. If you can interact with an Indonesian in a non commercial setting you won't find anyone more friendly and helpful. If they are in any tourist related business you can trust them only after you have paid and even then expect to be given the hard sell for something extra. The big exception bizarrely is actual shops where they seem content to leave the door open and be somewhere in the neighbourhood rather than actually sit behind the counter.

5. Despite being the largest Muslim country in the world an awful lot seems to be non Muslim. Bali is Hindu of course but so is the area around Bromo and the lake Toba area seems to be mostly Christian although with traces of another religion that involved ghosts, magicians and sacrificing bulls.

6. In hotels you will find proper toilets, elsewhere, I was very glad that as a man I don't have to touch anything except with the soles of my shoes. Squat toilets are common and the flushing and washing arrangement is usually an open tank and a small bucket so you can pour the water from it.

7. On the subject. One of the oddest things has been the way so many places like petrol stations have a prayer room in with the toilets.

8. The landscape can be truly amazing.

9. The adverts include the bizarre Pro Mild. Which I think are cigarettes, although that makes the use of the English language slogan never quit all the more questionable. Which brings me to.

10. No I don't smoke and actually yes I do mind if you do, especially in a confined space like a minibus.  

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