I am on a trip to Indonesia!
I think a good way to document and keep you in the loop is to put up my notes right here.
Feel free to read and share at will.
I’ll add and update when I get the chance.
1 – The Flights:
Because I fly internationally so rarely, I always forget how fantastic the service is on these overseas flights.
But it is outstanding. The crew does a great job, they are courteous and kind.
You get meals. And I don’t mean you are paying $12 for a packet of un-identifiable garbage.
Free meals. Warm meals. Actual meals. Meals in which you can identify the ingredients and what the dish mean tot be — it is all made clear.
Quinoa salad. Rotini with arrabbiata. Bread and butter. Hagen Daz for dessert.
Frittata with mushrooms. A side of potatoes and beans. Warm raisin bread. Sliced watermelon.
And it’s all served with a smile. Not a sneer.
Sure, it wasn’t good. and I felt ill after the frittata. But it sure beats feeling ill after a $9 bag of expired pretzels, no?
Throughout the flight, the air waitresses cheerfully carry trays of juices, water, soups, and snacks up and down the aisle.
I am sitting in row 63 and being treated like a queen.
My seat is not 1A, but I feel like it is.
Movies, headsets, bottles of water, all complimentary.
The multiple washrooms are stocked with hand cream and facial moisturizers.
Towelettes are provided at will.
Hot tea and coffee flow freely.
I was dreading this 13-hour flight to Hong Kong— the first leg of my journey to Indonesia.
But dare I say, it’s been lovely.
Except for my ass.
My tailbone has been crushed to oblivion in these garbage seats.
I guess some things will never change.
Our second flight was much more….casual.
Though we were seated in the emergency exit row, the crew didn’t bother to instruct us on emergency protocol.
And the pilot said we were to have our seatbelt fastened when seated, but he said “keeping it very loose will be good enough”.
And though I was putting up with another 4 + hr flight, I watched the film Passengers.
Seeing those people on a 120-year voyage made my 20+ hour travel day seem a lot more bearable by comparison.
#2 – Adventure Awaits:
Kim asked if I want to get an Ozone IV upon arrival to help lessen the jet lag.
I have no idea what that is and it sounds a little terrifying.
But I already promised myself I would say YES! to anything she suggests.
Not only I am there to support her, but I want to experience everything amazing and new.
Yes, going to Indonesia at all is exciting and new.
But I have been to Asia, I have been to the tropics, I have been to volcanic islands. So I need to take every opportunity to expand my experiences in life. I don’t want to be old and jaded, filled with ennui.
I want to live this wild adventure!
So I will approve all the crazy, new age, weirdo things she wants to do.
Ozone IV? Yes!
Riding motorcycles? Yes!
Selfies with wild monkeys? Yes!
Surfing in breaks way beyond my comfort level? Yes!
Testing dildos to see if they are too big? Yes!
Eating green bread? Yes!
Trying the best seafood barbecue on the island?…. Well, no.
I am up for adventure, but I am not going to completely go crazy. My anti-speciesism values still ring true and strong.
Some of these things might be a little questionable. Or even outright scary. But I am up for this memorable adventure.
Bring it on!
#3 – Hong Kong:
I must say I’d never been. And had no desire, either.
But upon arrival, I was pleasantly surprised.
Misty green mountains loomed over one side of us. While cloudy turquoise waters, bustling with freight ships, sat to our left.
It was a vision, so much prettier and tranquil looking than I imagined.
I felt a pang of disappointment for not having the time to get out and explore the city.
Although I was quickly snapped back to my usual displeasure once I began shopping about.
Prices (even for an airport) were wildly extravagant.
I wrestled to do the currency conversion in my head. For each item that caught my eye, I would do the math.
Over and over and over again. Because my calculations couldn’t be correct, could they?
$500 Canadian dollars for a jar of face cream?
$125 for a travel size perfume?
$30 for a bowl of noodles?
I broke out my phone calculator. My estimates were correct. I stormed out of each shop shaking my head.
I walked about to get my head together before diving into the task of finding something to eat.
There was no lack of interesting looking choices, but I was having troubles finding a vegetarian option….anywhere.
I spotted a place called “Salads” on the edge of one of the food courts but was quickly disappointed to find it was a shop selling only leather coin purses.
I finally settled on a place called Cafe Deco, which appeared to be a fairly modern looking restaurant with several things I could have.
Upon doing the mental calculations, the prices seemed reasonable so I ordered the Ricotta-Honey-Banana pancakes, which were acceptable, but not nearly as mouthwatering or moist as I had hoped.
My pancakes ended up costing me $38 Canadian dollars.
I tried not to gawk in confusion at the bill. But re-did my math and realized I could’ve got away with the pancakes for a mere $25 if I hadn’t ordered a coffee.
Perhaps it’s a good thing I overlooked the possibility of staying a night or two in Hong Kong.
Though, as I gazed down from the seat as my flight took off, I again was overcome with how beautiful it all was.
May we meet again.
Another time, another adventure.
#4 – Social Conduct:
I have been warned that I need to use caution as Indonesia is a Muslim country.
Why do I keep encountering this warning? It’s not as though I am some out of control wild child.
A hedonistic freak that will be so immediately offensive I’ll be removed from the country.
I am able to conduct myself according to polite society and I know how to blend in with the “normies”.
Am I truly that questionable?
Multiple ex-boyfriends would (and have) objected to my reasonable self-view. Arguing in fact that I am a little too boisterous and irrepressible to be taken out in public.
Fortunately for all involved, I am going to Bali, which is the only part of Indonesia that is not Muslim. The Hindus in the region have welcomed me with open arms.
I am a fucking delight.
#5 – Driving:
Originally, I wasn’t too sure about driving here.
First of all, they drive on the left, which I have never before encountered, let alone driven in.
Second of all, they drive like lunatics. Passing on the shoulder, speeding, driving in all lanes, 2 cars to a lane, 4 motorbikes to a lane, tight turns, constant merging. And always honking. Honking honking honking.
Upon arrival, I thought the honking was ridiculous and rude. But now I understand it is considered a courtesy. A honk is used to signal to other drivers that they are about to pass you. Or are coming around a corner. “Beep beep – don’t swerve into me, please”.
And to keep everyone in line, there are full sized cardboard cutouts of police cars propped up along the roadside. This trick doesn’t seem to be working all that well. But I suppose it’s better than nothing at all.
Alright, now that I had the basics of driving sorted. I was ready to rent a scooter. At $6/day it was an easy choice to make.
My first lesson was: “Here’s the key”, and the contract was a wave of the hand and “you pay later.”
I angled for a second driving lesson from someone else. And this second lesson was a little more in-depth and included showing me how to start the bike…. turns out that’s an important piece of the whole process.
So, now I have a bike and know how to start it, but controlling it is a whole other matter. I feel like I’m flying totally out of control. But I quickly realize that I’m accelerating when I think I’m slowing down. And I manage not to crash my bike into the bushes. Success!
The “wrong” side of the road feeling disappeared immediately.
But I do need to fill up. Because, of course, the bike I rented was totally empty. We ended up stopping at the greatest gas station of all time. An elderly man on the side of the road with several old vodka bottles full of petrol.
After a couple minutes of haggling, he agreed to fill us up. I don’t know if we won the haggle. But our bikes were filled 1/3 of the way for $2 and he helped me back onto the road with a smile.
I didn’t die and I have now ridden a scooter 4 times.
Don’t tell my mom, but the strap on my helmet is broken. And this is the replacement helmet for the first one that had a broken visor. I’ll ask for a new helmet every day until I get an acceptable one.
Fingers crossed that tomorrow is my lucky day.
#6 – Ozone
Upon arrival, we went to get an ozone therapy treatment.
This process involves the ozone being introduced via autohemotherapy, in which blood is drawn, exposed to ozone and re-injected.
Now, I’m no doctor, but this sounded ridiculous. I am also uncomfortable with needles and having blood drawn, so the idea made me uneasy.
But as you know, I promised to say YES! to all opportunities. So I decided not to pass this one up.
The entire process took half an hour and the happy doctor (working out of his home, obviously) was very attentive.
I didn’t notice anything right away, but within the hour I was awake, alert, and refreshed. And this was immediately following 25 hours of travel, so basically the equivalent to a miracle.
I was told this process would help with anything from jet lag, to allergies, to cancer to AIDS. With a particularly good effect upon diseases that are persistent and dormant – like herpes and Lyme disease
Fortunately, I only suffer from the lesser ailments – so I was there to mainly treat my jet lag and a lung issue that has persisted for several months now.
After a single treatment, I basically experienced no jet lag and was fine to work, be on schedule, and exercise heavily the very next day.
There is no actual scientific evidence to back up the claims of this treatment, but I haven’t heard many downsides, either.
Now, this practice is banned in certain countries (Australia, you are out of luck). But if you ever get the opportunity to try an ozone treatment… I say, at least consider it.
#7 – Monkeys
Everybody was so excited to hear about the monkeys, to see pictures of the monkeys, we love the monkeys!
Well, the monkeys are assholes.
The first day I arrived, I saw a treeful of monkeys just at dusk – and a local was threatening them with a stick. I thought that was uncalled for.
The second day I asked my friend what the collection of small stones on her desk was for. She pulled out a slingshot and whispered “the monkeys”. I loudly voiced my disapproval … but now I take it all back.
My second day, I walked down to Padang-Padang Beach, where smiling tourists were taking selfies – and a monkey ran by swiping at a nearby girl. He then proceeded to rape another nearby monkey. Point taken, you’re the boss and you’re a jerk.
Everywhere you look, monkeys are pawing through the trash, yelling, making a mess, throwing coconuts at you from the trees.
Monkeys are pests here. Like racoons. Only if racoons were super fast, moved in large groups, and set out to enter your home for the sole purpose of a destructive home invasion.
They are dirty, book-eating, thieves. And they can get anywhere. The third storey of a building isn’t safe. And neither is your bowl of fruit, car, pool, or leg.
I thought perhaps the issue was proximity to cities and people. But upon venturing into Ubud’s Monkey Forest….. they are just as much trouble there. Non-stop screeching and fighting. With the occasional peeling off a piece of your vehicle if you dare to park anywhere near the forest.
I’m happy I saw them. And I’m happy Hawaii and mainland N. America don’t have them.
#8 – Luwak Coffee
Luwak Kopi (coffee) is an Indonesian delicacy. You’ve probably heard of it – the one where the animal eats the coffee berry and poops out a specially flavoured bean which is then sanitized and roasted.
This was all the rage in North America a few years back and people were paying upwards of $50 a cup.
Here in Bali, it is still all the rage and locals think tourists are suckers for paying 50,000 rupiah per cup (about $5 Canadian).
Needless to say, I fell for the tourist trap marketing and I told my driver I wanted to try the Luwak coffee. He agreed and to my delight, we pulled up to a coffee plantation.
There, nestled amongst the rice paddies, I got a tour of the coffee trees, and all the other plants they used for their tea and coffee production – ginger, lemongrass, rosella, and everything in between.
We were escorted to an outdoor table overlooking the rice field, edged by lush jungle. and were treated to 14 testers of different teas and coffees, plus our two extravagant cups of Luwak coffee. This whole deal ran me about $9.
The teas and coffees we sampled were:
Rosella Tea – smooth and lovely.
Lemon Tea – bright and delicious.
Ginger Tea – bright orange and too gingery.
Lemongrass tea – bright and vibrant.
Mangosteen tea – super sweet.
Herbal tea – herbal medicine flavour mixed with armpit aromas.
Balinese coffee – strong and gritty.
Coconut coffee – a sweet coconut dream come true!
Durian coffee – who soaked their stinky feet in my coffee?
Ginger coffee – not my fav.
Ginseng coffee – also not my fav.
Vanilla coffee – amazing – the vanilla is strong and fragrant
Balinese cocoa – a cup of chocolatey heaven
Balinese mochaccino – a tasty combination.
Before this experience, in my dreamy idealistic mind, the animals run free in the jungle and locals happy collect their droppings.
But that fantasy was destroyed when I got to see a few of the civet cats. Much to my dismay, the poor creatures were kept in solitary cages.
I asked why the animals were kept apart and were told that since the animals are such fighters and biters they need to be kept separated for their own good.
Though I still don’t approve this treatment, I have to admit, the civet cat does not seem friendly or cuddly. The civet is closely related to a racoon more than a cat, and it acts accordingly. That doesn’t mean it deserves to be locked in a cage for my coffee drinking pleasure, I’m just stating a fact.
If this experience did not include sad, caged civets I would readily endorse it.
There are other plantations that have civets in a more natural setting. As well as those that don’t let you see the animals at all due to their harsh treatment.
If you find the option of supporting “ethical civet coffee” it’s well worth looking into.
For photos of my adventures (including the amazing petrol station, monkeys, and a pic of the ozone treatment), check out my Instagram page:
I also have new phone number while I’m here, hit me up at +62 812 38425697 and if international texting is too pricey, What’s App or email are for FREEEEEEE <3