Have a blast on a budget
My backpacking trip to Indonesia can be summed up in a few words: parties, beach, hiking, turtles, temples, Bintang.
Last month, I spent four weeks travelling from the west side to the east of this SouthEast Asian beauty.
Rather than spending two weeks getting drunk with thousands of other young Australians in Bali, I thought I’d pretend to be more cultured.
Boy oh boy, did I have fun — and I cannot recommend the trip highly enough.
Many young people aged 18 to 25 spend their hard-earned cash on a AEight to Europe and pour thousands down a drain under the Eiffel Tower (don’t get me wrong — I’ve done it, and it was fun). But this was something else. I spent just $1900 in my four weeks of fun which included AEights, accommodation, food, drinks and non-stop activities.
Beginning in the bustling capital of Jakarta on the island of Java, it wasn’t exactly the paradise I’d expected.
After spending two short days there I had seen enough; it was not until after an eighthour bus journey to Pangandaran, on the south coast, that my trip really began.
SurÅng lessons quickly brought my skills up to scratch but later watching footage of myself surÅng two-foot waves, it was a bit of a let-down.
On to Yogyakarta and a visit to the mustsee historic Borobudur and Prambanan temples.
Borobudur was built in about 800AD, 300 years before Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and in the late 20th century was designated a World Heritage Site.
At the end of my Årst week I spent two days hiking Indonesia’s most famous volcanos, Mt Bromo and Ijen.
These two days consisted of setting the alarm at 1 am to travel to the base of the mountains, beginning the hike about 4 am and walking to the top to see the sunrise.
That was enough exercise to last a lifetime, so I booked a AEight to the exotic island of Lombok, east of the infamous Bali.
My time in Lombok was too short, just one week, but that time was spent surÅng and partying at the world-renowned beach village Gerupuk.
The waves were at the intermediateadvanced level and, being a beginner, I spent most of my time in the water catching my breath.
Taking a speedboat journey from Lombok to Bali I spent four superb nights on three tiny islands called The Gilis.
Gili Trawangan, Gili Meno and Gili Air are characterised by sandy beaches fringed with palm trees.
They are also known for their coral reefs just offshore, where turtles and exotic Åsh swim.
There are no cars, no motorbikes and “no worries” allowed on the islands whatsoever.
Jumping between reggae bars and bouncy clubs at night and non-stop swimming during the day was a blast but exhausting.
My last week in Bali Ånished off the trip nicely.
I spent a couple of days diving and snorkelling in Ahmed, three or four in the monkey village and rice terrace town of Ubud and my last two in touristy Kuta.
My highlight of Kuta was a night at the Sky Garden Rooftop Lounge where a chance encounter with a large group of Argentinians saw me up until all hours of the morning.
Boy, could they party — but it didn’t help that we enjoyed an all-you-can-eat-anddrink buffet from 5.30 pm to 9 pm that night for just $11.50.
South-East Asian countries are cheap, fun, unusual and just on our doorstep.
Indonesia is not to be missed.
Mt Bromo in Java.
Hayden Thomson with locals at the famous temple Borobudur in Java.
Hayden Thomson and friend at Ubud, Bali.
Lounging about on a hammock at Gili Trawangan.