I think I’ve FINALLY kicked the jet lag. Being 12 hours ahead of NYC time was rough, and I know this is the city that never sleeps, but I sure as hell do.
That said, if I had to do it all over again, I 100% would. It’s not every day you get invited on such an incredible journey for 2 weeks through places you would most likely never visit on your own. So before I dive in here, thank you SO much to the amazing Ministry of Tourism of Indonesia for having me! I will seriously remember this trip forever.
And if YOU want to get there, take this quiz on their website for a chance to win a 4-day trip to Bali! Link below:
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Indonesia is “rich in history”, because I think that’s what you can say about nearly every place on earth at this point. Everything has been around for a while. Let’s talk about something a bit deeper, something that everyone can appreciate and relate to.
One of my favorite things about Indonesia was the beauty of it. Bustling with life and energy, it’s a constant blur of vibrant colors, lush greenery, wandering cats and dogs, busy streets, beautiful ancient temples, and cotton candy skies. The views were so surreal in some places, it felt like an out of body experience. Coming from someone who was born and raised in NYC, where skyscrapers are considered “views”, I had to stop and appreciate the natural beauty that the islands of Indonesia offer. It was honestly breathtaking.
On the flip side, like most places on earth, there are parts of it that are so run down, you wonder what it must be like to live there. We toured the various cities via large, comfortable coach buses, and every time we got stuck in traffic in a random town (which was often), I ended up people-watching, imagining what their stories were.
It was 11 am on a Tuesday. I saw an old man with a slightly younger man, perhaps his son, sitting outside of a shop that rents bikes, wearing tattered jeans and windbreakers, smoking cigarettes and drinking black coffee. They looked calm, dare I’d say they looked happy. A little girl runs over and shows the old man a piece of paper and he starts laughing. The little girl starts laughing and jumps into his lap. Inevitably, I smile just watching this whole interaction go down, and I take a deep breath. There’s that infectious energy again. They’re just enjoying each other, enjoying the moments, without any additional stimuli. I feel like that’s something that doesn’t happen much anymore.
Here’s another example. It’s somewhere in the range of 90+ degrees outside, with high humidity, and we’re on our way to dinner with a large group. We get to the restaurant, and I discover there is absolutely no air conditioning. Not only that, but the food we’re about to eat will most likely be heavy and spicy. Lots of carbs, lots of meats. Do you know how New Yorkers would handle that? They’d probably riot and burn it to the ground. I’m only being slightly dramatic for emphasis here. Do you know how Indonesians handle it? They order a few beers and continue their lively conversation with friends.
Do NOT get me wrong – I get beyond uncomfortable in situations like that, because I sweat more than a Sumo wrestler in a sauna. But what could I DO about it? Nothing. I could easily complain about it to my like-minded friends, but ultimately, you just have to get through it and learn to enjoy yourself. And I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t always easy to do that. As a New Yorker, the one thing we are extremely NOT good at, is slowing down. We just don’t do that. Indonesia forces you to slow down. To go with the flow. And to maybe bring a towel with you.
You learn, and you adapt. That’s the way to do it.
I never considered myself “high maintenance” until this trip. I still don’t, but I think I can safely say that I’m spoiled by living in a city where mandatory things are mere luxuries in most other parts of the world.
I’ll still take luxury in the form of a floating breakfast in an infinity pool in Bali. Or tea inside an ornate royal palace, with the sweet smell of burning incense. Or sleeping in a hotel in Yogyakarta that was so beautiful I wanted to cocoon myself in it’s 700-thread count sheets and weep with joy (Plataran Heritage Borobodur, if you must know). There is no shortage of opportunities to spoil yourself, if you must.
Take Yogyakarta, for example. We woke up at 3 am to watch the sunrise at Borobodur, the largest Buddhist temple in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever woken up so early for anything in my life. We left the hotel by 4 am, and it was dark outside. Everyone is bleary-eyed, clutching their espresso coffee like it’s their first born. Evidently, the temple gets so crowded that they wanted us to get there early to snag some good photos. This was a smart move, I would come to learn.
The skies were a little hazy at first, and we were all worried it would be overcast. But then, just as more people started to fill the edges of the temple, the sun started to peek through, creating a gorgeous pastel palette against the sky. Everyone grabs their cameras, selfie sticks, tripods, and drones and rushes to take photos (and I was definitely one of them). I was so exhausted when we got there, but once that sun came up, it didn’t matter. I became re-energized by the beauty of this magical place, once again. If you come here, I implore you to stop digitizing your life for just 2 minutes. Sit and stare. Take it all in and let the feeling run through you. Because it doesn’t even look real and the pictures don’t do it justice. You will want that memory in your body, not just in your phone.
If you’re looking for a truly amazing place to visit that’s brimming with life, I suggest you come to Indonesia. Below are some photos and you can click on them to see more info. But stay tuned for Top 5 lists!