The decision to visit Indonesia is an impulsive one, triggered by the low-priced air tickets available in a promo sale on AirAsia. Normally, this is the most significant reason behind my international travels. I regularly check the fare offered by the airlines from Delhi and once I feel that the fare is cheap enough to book a flight, I grab that fare without any delay. So, I decide an international destination solely on the basis of cheap air tickets, and only once in a year.
Since, I have a desire to visit as many countries as possible in the future , I don’t have any preference for the choice of destination (I never feel that the number count will go beyond 45-50 countries at the end, but I really wish to cover at least the whole of Asia, Africa, Greece and Italy and probably, a more trip to Europe..Rest others are not on my list as of now…looks like a long list 🙂 ). Coming to the point, the airfare is the biggest criteria to decide a destination and thereafter some other criteria may also come in the mind.
I was in no mood of any international travel this year. Rather, I was actually booked for the SAR Pass Trekking Expedition organized by The Youth Hostel Association of India in the month of June. But, one day something triggered in the mind and I became restless to plan a trip to Myanmar. I actually planned a road trip from India to Vietnam via Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.
However, that trip was only on the paper. In reality, there were many hindrances in that plan. Entry into Myanmar was possible from Manipur side, but the further journey to Bagan appeared very tough. The prices of air tickets were really high and 30 days appeared very less for the entire itinerary. I kept changing that itinerary for next 20 days, even excluded Myanmar to cover Vietnam, Laos and probably Northern Thailand, but nothing was finalized. SAR Trek was, however, still on the card.
Then one day, I found a dirt cheap ticket (hand baggage only fare) to Kuala Lumpur on an AirAsia flight from Delhi. I booked that immediately. The flight was for KualaLumpur, but I knew that Malaysia was not going to be the only destination for the trip. While looking on the map of Asia, I thought to go for the Scuba Diving on the proposed trip. The places, I thought, were Sipadan Island in Malaysia and Philippines. Indonesia also appeared as a nice option for Scuba Diving.
After lot of thinking and permutation-combination, I finally decided to visit Indonesia on a 24 days journey. And here, I am leaving for Indonesia in a couple of days. Let us talk about the other major factors that helped me to choose Indonesia as the next travel destination? There are plenty of attractions in this country of more than 17000 Islands to cater the interest of every traveller, a history buff, a wildlife lover, or an adventure sports enthusiast, and it also has some of the Scuba Diving heavens in the world. I decided to visit Indonesia due to below-mentioned reasons:
1. Timing of The Trip (July Month): The month of July is the high probability time for destructive typhoons in Philippines. But, in Indonesia, this probability is almost negligible. It is a major reason to choose Indonesia over Philippines in the month of July. I want to reduce this risk factor.
2. Scuba Diving: The underwater life near the Gili Islands in Indonesia is world famous for its exotic beauty. In fact, there are many more beautiful diving heavens existing in Indonesia. Since, my focus is mainly on diving this time, it seems a better choice among other options. However, I am planning to dive only at Bali and Gili Islands, not at any other place.
3. Trekking On The Volcanic Mountains: Although they are not very high like the Himalayas, but the Volcanic Mountains in Indonesia have its own charm of hiking. The surreal photographs of sunrise views from the top of these mountains are the highlights of every tourist’s album. I have plans to hike at least three volcanic mountains (Mt. Merapi, Mt.Batur and Mt.Rinjani) during my 24-days journey.
4. Borobudur: Aah Borobudur! If I have to choose only one reason to visit Indonesia apart from the diving, then it is The Borobudur. My love with Borobudur is equally old as it is with Angkor Wat. Beyond the descriptions of the history texts, I have a long desire to greet these iconic monuments face-to-face. The Pyramids of Giza, Trans-Siberian Railways, The Great Wall of China, The Grand Ruins of Athens, The Colosseum in Rome, The Legendary City of Venice..etc etc..all these attractions draw me constantly. I have already visited few, but many are still pending. This year is the time to witness the sheer grandeur of Borobudur.
5. Bali: There is no need to say anything about this paradise. Bali is world famous for the many Hindu Temples and exotic beaches. It is a major center of Hindu religion outside India. However, I am not that much interested in its beaches. So, my plan is to spend most of time in Ubud and beyond, towards the Northern part.
6. Friendly People of Indonesia: Luckily, many followers of my blog on social media are the natives of Indonesia. When I interacted with some of them, I found them very helpful and kind-hearted. First time during my trip, I know many local people beforehand at almost every destinations in my proposed itinerary and they are the real travellers, not the tour guides.
Some Hindrances and Challenges: First time, I left a lot of things unplanned while finalizing my itinerary. The only real preparation that I did is the network building and a multiple entry visa for Malaysia. So, I expect to encounter the lot of surprises during my journey.
The biggest concern in this journey is the holy month of Ramadan. Indonesia is the biggest muslim country in the world. There are basically two challenges due to this one month long festival. First, the life comes to the standstill in the daytime during the Ramadan, because majority of its population is fasting during the day. Second challenge is known as Mudik in the local language. Mudik means the movement of people at a very large scale from one city to another. On the occasion of Id-Ul-Fitr, most of the people wish to spend their time with their families. So, the people, who are working away or studying away, moves to their home. The people, who are already staying with their families, take them on a vacation to the nearby tourist places.
This movement of people creates a complete chaos on the public facilities. Due to this festival, the hotels, resorts and tour operators run with the bare minimum staffs, since most of the employees go on the leave. And, the popular tourist places turn very crowded due to the people travelling for the vacation with their families. It all results in the reduction of facilities at the hotels and public transportation or their unavailability at all due to high rate of bookings. In turn, every available things from flights, hotels to the other tourism related activities suddenly become too costly to afford as a backpacker. This is the major reason why most of the foreign visitors completely avoid Indonesia during the month of Ramadan.
But, there is a good side hidden under all these chaos. The holy month of Ramadan provides a nice opportunity to experience the culture and traditions of the world’s most populous Islamic country.
Anyway, I think, I will spend most of the time during the peak travel period (3 days before Id-Ul-Fitr to 3 days after Id-Ul-Fitr) on the islands of Bali. Bali has the majority of population following Hinduism, therefore it doesn’t witness significant changes in the day to day life in the month of Ramadan also, except the tourist crowd at its beaches on the Southern part.
Apart from Indonesia, I have a plan to spend three nigts in Kuala Lumpur city also. I have plans to visit Chinatown, Petronas Towers and Batu Caves there in KualaLumpur city.
My experiences and the mysteries of this journey will only be unfolding during the trip. As of now, I am busy dreaming about Borobudur and Scuba Diving. Keep following my journey on the social media and on this blog. I will share day to day details of my trip on these platforms. If you have any suggestions, tips, couch offerings, meetups etc, do share with me. I will be happy to connect with all good people during this journey.