Before I dive in here, let me just say that there will be an entire blog post dedicated to Bali. Sorry, but I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I didn’t love it at the risk of sounding “basic” or “mainstream”.
I’ll take all the damn basic and mainstream there is.
Listen, I grew up not having a lot of money. We weren’t poor but…there were times when shit was tough. I don’t like camping because living without air conditioning is something I worked very hard to get away from. I believe Trevor Noah made a similar joke recently but fuck that because I made it first, it’s just been sitting in my drafts folder on here for weeks.
But I digress. My point is, I worked hard for this life and when I’m on vacation I *usually* like to pamper myself, sue me.
That said, this was work, not vacation. Not to mention I’m always down for experiences outside of the hotel, especially ones that are steeped in tradition and take place in some of the most beautiful places in the world. Below are 5 places we visited in Indonesia that were awesome in their own unique ways, yet they all had one major thing in common: beauty.
The Indonesia Beyond Bali
- Jakarta – the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta is bustling with humans and motorbikes. It might be a bit overwhelming to those who don’t come from big cities like myself, but if you’re into random street markets, cute cafes and delicious food, this should be on your list. Stop for a photo opp at Monas, the national monument of the Republic of Indonesia, which symbolizes their struggle for independence. The town of Kota Tua was really cute too, and you can see the Dutch influences here in the main square of Taman Fitahiilah. While you’re there, stop in to Cafe Batavia for tea and a light snack. For dinner, try Kaum, which means “clan” or “tribe” in Indonesian, and it was a delicious experience from beginning to end. And stay at Morrisey Hotel – modern, clean, and a beautiful rooftop pool with the freshest complimentary breakfast every morning. I still think about that breakfast.
- Bukittinggi, West Sumatra – the gorgeous views here are worth the trip alone. This was one of the places that almost brought tears to my eyes. Not even kidding. I don’t consider myself a spiritual person, but if I were to ever connect with that part of my body and mind, this would be one of the places to do it. The next would be…
- Yogyakarta – Borobodur – located in central Java (Yogyakarta), Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in the world, this was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done and probably will ever do. You will need to set your alarm for 3 am or so, but if you want to get a good photo without the throngs of people, you must go that route. Also be advised this is not for those with knee problems – there’s a lot of stairs to get to the top. Stay at the Plataran Heritage in Borobudur, one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever been in. Also, it’s pronounced “jo-jah-kar-ta”. The Y becomes J. You’re welcome.
- Padang – the capital of West Sumatra, this is where I got to try the ever-popular dish, beef rendang, which is cooked slow with curry, spice paste, and coconut milk until it’s fork tender. We visited Rumah Gadang Sawah Laman, where we got to partake in Bajamba, a communal Padangnese dining tradition where you sit on the floor and eat with your hands. They had utensils too, just in case you’re a germaphobe, but I would say just give it a shot. You have one life to live. If you’ve drunkenly eaten pizza off of someone else’s plate in a bar on Avenue B, I think you’ll survive this. Also check out the Pagaruyung Palace, where we tried on the traditional Padangnese attire.
- Lake Toba – some of my most beautiful photos from this trip were taken here. This is the biggest lake in Southeast Asia, almost like an ocean. The hotels were a little more “no frills” than say, Borobudur, but if immersing yourself in culture is what you look for in a trip, you can stop looking. We visited the village of Lumban Suhi Suhi, where we watched the villagers make Ulos, a traditional woven garment. We had lunch overlooking the lake at the Batak Museum/TB Silalahi Center, in the rain, and it still looked beautiful. We watched many dance performances and got to try them ourselves…it’s a really cool place to visit.