Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2

Tripoto
4th May 2018
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

I’m the sort of person who plans his trip to the tee so as to not lose out on what a country has to offer the moment his foot’s out of the plane. And, to be honest, it has worked out quite well for me all these years. Though, theoretically being aware of how backpacking and hostels work; I have often wondered how the experience would unfold if I did end up getting out of my comfort zone and actually doing it.

So, there I was all set with a backpack in May 2018 for a short 17 day soiree to Indonesia with just my flight tickets, no accommodation booked and having only a faint idea of the places that I wanted to see. Sort of a go-with-the-flow trip.

To lay it out, the city is lovely and vibrant. But, that would be the same with almost any other city in the world. The difference, however, is in the people; not just in Jakarta but throughout Indonesia – very respectful, warm and friendly. The easiest way to test the friendliness pulse of a city is by interacting with its cab drivers. Travelling solo, I pretty much hailed the two wheeler taxi’s run by Go-Jek and Grab (traffic congestions are pretty snarly in Jakarta). And, each ride was an experience in itself with fascinating conversations with the taxi drivers who were nothing short of super friendly.

Photo of Jakarta, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

My tryst with food mainly involved sampling Indonesian fare which was exquisite to my taste buds, particularly the Padang spread and the sambal (predominantly their staple; apart from the all-time favorite Nasi goreng). Well, I wouldn’t be a wee bit surprised if they even added ‘Sambal’ to a burger instead of ketchup. It’s that serious!

Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

Yogyakarta pronounced as "Jogja" is a quiet city located in central Java and is the celebrated cultural capital known for its heritage, batik prints and fine arts. I booked myself on a 3.30 am ride to Borobudur to catch the sunrise which was nothing short of spectacular. The 8th century UNESCO protected structure with its openwork stupas is considered to be the biggest Buddhist temple in the world and absolutely stunning at sunrise.

Openwork stupas each containing a statue of the Buddha

Photo of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

That customary selfie!

Photo of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Borobudur temple at sunrise!

Photo of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Next on my bucket list was to hike up Mount Merapi which means 'Fire mountain' – Indonesia’s most active 9,610 foot volcano for sunrise the next day. This entailed starting the hike at 1 am for a strenuous beat of 5 hours. Plans were dashed as we did not have the minimum number of people necessary to do the hike. So, I decidedly flew out of Jogja into Bali the next day. It so happened that exactly two weeks later, Merapi erupted while I was in the southern isles sipping a Gin & Tonic by the beach.

The regions of Seminyak and Canggu

This is where my real experience began. I had booked myself into a hostel for two days in Seminyak. And, this being my first hostel experience, I walked in with great trepidation, but with one leg out the door – ready to scoot back to the comfort zone of an airbnb / hotel. I literally found all of Europe here and I was the only brown guy in the hostel; which can be a bit unnerving for a first backpack experience. But boy, was I in for an experience of a lifetime. The people, energy of the place and the vibes are something that ought to be experienced.

If one were to take count, there would be more Europeans in Seminyak and Canggu than Indonesians. Banter, booze and butt crazy games are the staple of a good hostel and I was smack in one of 'em.

Of beaches and sunsets!

Photo of Capsule Hotel New Seminyak, Jalan Beraban, Kerobokan Kelod, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Capsule Hotel New Seminyak, Jalan Beraban, Kerobokan Kelod, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Sparkling with em' nitrous balloons

Photo of Capsule Hotel New Seminyak, Jalan Beraban, Kerobokan Kelod, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

The evenings at the hostel were raucous, filled with banter and a bucket load of games ranging from beer pongs to card games and to what not! A typical evening commenced from 6 pm and lasted easily until 4 am every single night.

One typical rendezvous included the horde getting out to a bar called ‘La Favela’ at 1 am. The place is packed with fellow backpackers from other hostels as well. By the time you realize it, you’ve made a good number of friends whose names you’ve lost track of due to the increasing tipples. But thank heavens for Facebook.

The games begin!

Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

Dawn to dusk to dawn

Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

Joints not to be missed:

Image courtesy: Sky garden Bali

Photo of Sky Garden Bali, Jalan Raya Legian, Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

A word of advice while in Kuta - Keep your pockets sealed. Way too many pickpockets in that specific region alone.

Folks who managed to stay relatively sober / mustered up some hangover willpower - did go on excursions during the day. Ticking off my bucket list, I went white river rafting at the rapids of Ubud - the region of terraced rice paddies and Hindu temples dotting the region

Ayung river - White water rafting

White water rafting surrounded by lush thick forests and waterfalls off the checklist - 2 hours and 14 kms downstream later!

Photo of Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Terraced rice paddies of Ubud!

Photo of Ubud, Gianyar, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Volcano trek up Mount Batur for the sunrise!

The 3 hour trek up Mount Batur – an active 5650 feet volcano was a grueling & sweaty hike that commenced at 3 am. I was comfortably in time waiting for daybreak and the sun to light up the horizon. The stunning sight and the views from atop were magical and the morning winds felt like a song in my ears. Nothing can ever prepare you for the awe and raw beauty when nature decides to denude herself. It’s a feeling that can never be put in words but only witnessed.

Above the clouds

Photo of Mount Batur, South Batur, Bangli Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Mount Batur, South Batur, Bangli Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat
Photo of Mount Batur, South Batur, Bangli Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

The mountain to the right is the fiery Mount Agung that erupted in 2017. Towards the center backdrop is the towering Mount Rinjani in the distant island of Lombok

Photo of Mount Batur, South Batur, Bangli Regency, Bali, Indonesia by Vignesh Venkat

Boo-yah!

Photo of Backpacking sojourn to Indonesia - Of pristine nature and wild parties - Part 1/2 by Vignesh Venkat

This fun and frolic resulted in a 2 day trip getting extended to 5 days. Realizing that I might require a spare lung and liver if this continued, I packed my backpack and decided to get the heck out of dodge. Took the 2-hour ferry ride from Padang Bai harbor to Gili Trawangan (one of the three Gili isles off Lombok).

... Gili Trawangan experience continued in the next post

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