Indonesia in Summary

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What we did: 29 days around the island of Bali. We originally planned to spend an even 30 here but upon arrival customs officials informed us that our scheduled flight times would be counted as 31 days- thus overextending our visas. We ended up having to change our flights. A mistake that cost us $150.

Where we went: Two weeks scattered around different sections of the Legian/Kuta beach area, a few days in the quiet scuba town of Candi Dasa, a day in Tulamben, 11 days in Sanur, and a quick trip through Ubud.

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About Costs: Bali is a welcoming place on a budget, especially after so much time in NZ and Australia. Our budget of $60/day was perfect for us. Our biggest lesson learned is that cost is in no way proportional to quality. Our guesthouses ranged from $15/nt up to $40/nt. Our favorite spots were all under $20/nt, including wifi, breakfast, beautiful gardens, and in one case, a pool. We looked at quite a few places that were significantly higher in price for lesser quality grounds and rooms. We are still trying to understand how people price their guesthouses, as there seems to be no common gauge. The same rule goes for food. Our favorite meals ranged from under $1 (at street stands) and up to about $3 or $4 (in local restaurants). Try to go above $5 and quality seems to go downhill. Stick to the local restaurants, risk ordering things you can’t translate, and you’ll usually end up very well fed. On the few occasions where we ended up in a place geared to tourists our dinner bills were three to four times the price and never nearly as satisfying.

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Our favorite meals: The night market’s noodle carts, where we feasted on hand pulled noodles stirred with spiced beef, greens, and an egg hard boiled in black tea. Also at the night market- rice noodle soup topped with dense cheese-stuffed meatballs and crisp fried crackers. We also frequented the Nasi Campur establishments, which were usually a few tables set up beside someone’s home kitchen. The meal consists of rice topped with whatever is available that day- typically curried vegetable dishes, potato cakes, dried meats, eggs boiled with chili sauce, and skewers seasoned with coconut. Sate Lilit was another favorite: a mix of fish, lemongrass, and coconut formed onto the end of a bamboo skewer, then fried or grilled (a bit harder to find than the other stuff but well worth the hunt!). Lastly, we picked up some lemongrass crackers at the grocery store during our first week here. They became our ‘go to’ snack for the rest of the trip. We were never able to figure out what they were made of, but we will never forget their perfection.

What we’ll miss: The flowers, the stray cats, papaya and banana juice, the brightly painted boats along the waterfront, the sweet smell incense and the daily Hindu offerings, the frequent power outages that somehow made things more exciting, tamarillo, mangosteen, and ‘snake skin’ (the great fruits of Bali), and the phenomenal beaches. And lastly, the small family shops– many don’t keep much coin in their registers. If they don’t have correct change, they keep a bag of candy under the desk and hand a few pieces over to you in exchange. We Loved this- we tried candy we wouldn’t otherwise have tasted, and the system itself is adorable. Besides, small change of 100 or 200 rupees in Indonesia is not worth much anyway.

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What we won’t miss: Constant harassment by taxi drivers, chain smokers in restaurants, Crossing the street, and the early morning crows of every rooster in town (and there are a lot of them!)

Next Stop: Singapore!

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