A trip to another life
Our trip to Indonesia & Papua New Guinea was made a few years ago in 2012. The purpose of this trip was of course holiday but also for my grandma. My grandma wanted to visit Indonesia for one last time, my grandma is also the only one in the family left to speak bahasa indonesia, which is so funny if you hear her talk because we don’t understand a single word. we booked our trip at Merapi.nl this company is specialised in organising custom trips for individuals or groups (based in The Netherlands). We had planned to start in the west and go east all the way to Papua New Guinea eventually. we booked with 8 persons, our family (5 persons) my grandma, uncle and someone else we know who just wanted to come along. We payed 3400 euro’s for 23 days. While this might sound a lot (it is) it’s not a lot compared to what was included and all the things we did, you gotta keep in mind that you basically just pay for the ticket and living there is very cheap I spend 300 euro in 3 weeks, this includes everything that I’ve bought, all the breakfasts, lunches and dinners and the tips we gave. You could say that’s not a lot but I was actually very generous (we all were). So the 3400 euro included all the international/domestic flights all the stays and the drivers. We had 6 or 7 domestic flights during the 3 weeks!
Our first stop was… I can’t remember oh yea Dubai… oh no that was our stop before heading to Indonesia. We landed in Medan after 31 hours from the time I got out of bed in The Netherlands and from there we had another 5 hour drive in the back of a truck to Bukit Lawang, so after 36 hours we were finally at our destination in Sumatera. This was where we went into the jungle with a guide, this trip led us to wild little monkeys and the orang-utans! and some blood sucking leeches on our legs and belly, they will find you and they will ki… no they won’t, you don’t even feel that they’re on your body haha. I just wanted to say that of all the things we have visited in Indonesia, Sumatera is the most mesmerising of all. If you like green then this is the place to be! haha. We have encountered orang-utans, maybe 4 or 5 and one with a baby! cuuute.
It is magnificent and so satisfying to see these animals living in wild instead of a zoo (not a fan of zoo’s). We have seen footprints of elephants but unfortunately we didn’t see them nor did we see polar bears… huh? wrong story mate. Ok back in our wooden cabin, you have to know you’re not the only one sleeping there, you got company of hundreds of cockroaches, geckos, super huge ants and they’re all crawling out of the floor or walls, I’m not a huge fan of insects but hey I gotta deal with it, so I stayed up all night with the mosquito net wrapped around me haha. Also you can’t complain about the bathroom, because they don’t have one you’ll have to do it with a bucket of water and a toilet that doesn’t flush. Every morning we got up at 7.30am and had breakfast while watching monkeys jump from tree to tree and seeing people wash their clothes in the river. We did sit on elephants, though I’m not a fan of this and it just doesn’t feel right, it is quite the experience, even though elephants are big and kind of build rough, the way they walk is so smooth and relax you wouldn’t expect that from an elephant.
I don’t really remember all the places that we went to, so I’ll just tell what my memory saved for me. I remember all the dinners we had with 8 persons, wherever we went we never spend more then 10 euro with the 8 of us! this was dinner, dessert, and drinks included! there was a restaurant that opened their doors specially for us! they cooked us the most delicious things and had a fun night of karaoke there. I think we gave a tip that was 3 times the amount of what we had to pay for dinner and it still wasn’t much! while you have to be careful not to give too much of a tip, I think we can be like a lottery for them, I can miss this much money so it doesn’t hurt me I’m not going to die of it and you get so much in return for giving. You can see they are happy with that “little bit of money” because they’re gonna wave the money in the air like they have actually won the lottery, so let us be that jackpot for them, it doesn’t cost us anything.
Next we flew to Jakarta and spend a day in the city, we didn’t see a lot except the big city with millions of motorcycles, cars, etc. honking at each other every second. So we went of to Surabaya from there a flight to Sulawesi (up north), from Sulawesi to the place Sorong (to the east) and then to Fak-Fak where my grandma had lived and my grandpa has helped build up a town and his own house that was still standing and being used till this day. Although this part is governed by Indonesia, the people living there all say they belong to Papua New Guinea and that they are absolutely not Indonesian, when you go back in time, Indonesians and Papua’s have been at war since forever. Indonesians would kill the Papua’s simply because they don’t belong here, is what they say. The people are super nice and friendly and we can learn a lot from them. While we waited in the hotel (where they can speak German better than English) a troop of military soldiers posted outside of the hotel. We were told that the governor of Fak-Fak was coming, what we didn’t realise is that the car that brought us to our hotel was actually the car of the governor haha. Next morning we went off to see the house my grandpa build and where they have lived for 20 years, the family that lives in it now are old friends of my grandma so it felt like we were all family the moment we set foot in that house. We had a dinner so big we felt sorry for not eating all of it (it was just ridiculous huge) but we tried our hardest. Then they took us to Pasir Putih 3, it means White Beach and there are 3 of them near by, so after 45 minutes driving along the coast we were at Pasir Putih 3…
here comes the good thing, there was absolutely no one! the whole beach was for us, the sand so white, the sea so blue, the trees so high and we were all alone!. Once we walked down the beach there was a little village hidden behind all the trees. All the children came to us (like 25 kids that was basically all of it) we gave them some books, jumping ropes, hats and all that we had with us to give away. there were 2 girls who gave me their necklace, I had to give them something back so I cut my wrist bracelet and ankle bracelet and gave it to them, I still have the necklaces in my room and it just shows that they would still give away their stuff even though they don’t have anything to begin with.
Our guide Ruud wanted to take us to an island near by, the island was called Jeflio but the map couldn’t find the location… it took us one and a half hour with a boat that was about to sink (it was like a gondola but like super old) When we got to the island, it existed of nothing more then trees and a village connected by one path.
I’m not lying if I’d say there were only 30 small houses and one little school or what you can call a school. The people living here were totally different from us, when we walked along the path between the houses of wood we saw a dead dog along the path, the people love animals but when they die they just leave them be it’s totally different and it was sad to see but you have to know that they are absolutely isolated for most of the time and they just live a different life they do respect the animals and they do love them. We visited the school that had only one teacher and almost no books. Some people went to land a few times a year to get new stuff like clothes and books. We gave them 150 euro (like 20 euro per person) so that they could buy new books and other things, (you can seriously buy a lot of things with 150 euro)!
This was all they had at school for learning
The woman who gave us a little tour through the village said that we were the second visitors to the island, the last one was in the 60’s and was also a woman from The Netherlands, so I got all excited about this and I couldn’t wipe my smile off of my face. Just the thought that we were the second visitors on that island made me very happy. I still don’t know where on the map this island is…
The children of the school
We left the village and we got a really really unforgettable goodbye from the children!
So we headed back to the airport and we were off to the Flores Islands. We stayed in a rather luxury hotel with a great view over the sea. That morning we decided we wanted to go to the Komodo Island, known for the Komodo dragons (Varanus komodoensis).
So we looked for a guide to take us there, we decided to go and stay the night on the boat. Upon entering the land was very dry and it was crazy hot. We were assigned to a guide to guide us through the land, all the guides walk with big sticks just incase you get a Komodo chasing you. While the Komodo’s are pretty much non-active during the day they can still make a sprint if they think you’re an easy prey. I saw one photographer going low to the ground to get a nice shot but he was pulled up immediately by the guide. Komodo’s see and feel if a prey is an easy target or not. During the day they warm up which gives them the energy to hunt when the night falls. When a Komodo is chasing you, you’re basically screwed, they can make a sprint up to 20km/h, they can swim, and when they are young they also go up in trees, so what I said you’re screwed. Their mouth is full of bacteria and once bitten by them you’ll probably die unless you get an antidote which is on another island… logic. they can grow up to 3 meters long and can weigh like 90 kilo’s, the tail is as long as their body. We heard that just a few month before us a boy was killed by a Komodo. So while they just stand still and you’re just thinking “they’re not dangerouuus” mmm think again and don’t do anything stupid like crazy movements and such… I have to say my grandma wasn’t that impressed or scared at all, she walked up front next to the guide haha (our grandma was 80 when we went, yes she did all the walking and climbing in the jungle and riding elephants, I hope I’m as fit as her when I’m that age. Back on the boat we had a super nice dinner and a clear sky of stars we watched the sun set between 2 islands in the distance and while that happend we saw a whole bunch of Kalong’s flying over! Kalong’s are flying foxes, the big bats! their span width can grow to 1,5 meter and they’re so awesome to see
My dad took this picture
So we headed back to the island, off to the airport and spend the last 2 days on Bali before flying home. Just a side note, when you are in Bali don’t stay around in the area of the airport… it’s not Indonesia at all in my opinion, just surfers, surfers and surfers it’s sooo busy with tourists. You might wanna drive up to the north or something, we didn’t go there unfortunately. so those last 2 days were a bit of “let down” (of course it’s holiday so it’s never a let down) but I would have loved to ended it a bit different. Also if you’re from Europe and you think “let’s go to Bali” (sounds expensive, it’s far away, and the “I’ve been on Bali” personality that comes with it if you’re back home)… don’t, if you just go for a beach holiday and stay the rest of the holiday in your hotel you might just wanna stay in Europe and go to Spain or something, the feeling of walking on the beach and people puling you into shops in Spain and all the souvenirs you can get is exactly the same on Bali, if you stay around the airport area of course.
Enjoy the pictures and wow I actually spend a lot of hours writing this! 3 evenings! but I’m getting better (not in type mistakes those will always exist haha).
I hope these stories get you inspired to travel and see the world, because there is just so much to see.