Indonesia Firsts

The Indonesia states of Kalimantan/Sulawesi are not for the tame.

There was no mistaking that we were no longer in Malaysia after waking up to a 4am call to prayer in our hotel the first night. The prayer, which was joined by other mosques not in harmony continued until 7:45am.

All you can pray temple in Pindolo

Indonesia is another beast.  Much more challenging that we’d ever anticipated, especially after the orderliness of Malaysia.

Lonely planet and guidebooks were useless.  A bus ride which we anticipated to take 9 hours actually took (gulp) 19! And there have been times where we spent 2 hours looking for the bus terminal. (Which btw, was moved 10 miles from its original place on our map and replaced with a shopping mall)

A friend told us that Malaysia received 80 mllion international tourists per year, while Indonesia, with more than 5 times the population received only 4 million.But it’s easy to understand that once you’re in the country.  This isn’t travel for the tame, and there have certainly been times where many times we weren unsure of what comes next, and question if we’d signed up for more than we can handle.

But there has always been a dearth of knowledge I’d wanted to fill about Indonesia. Our hometown, San Francisco is a very diverse place and many cultures which have a fraction of the population of this land our well represented. But even through the country has a population of 250M people, I’ve never ran into someone from Indonesia in the past.

Recalling Apocalypse now at a Torajan funeral

All in all, it is rewarding to be visiting in areas that receive less than 200 international tourists a year. (Palu and the north areas of Sulawesi)

The mix of Christianity, Islam, and traditional religions is not without its conflict here, but as always, that’s probably a result of the few hardliner minorities, as the people see to be in great harmony.  As for our part, we’ve received nothing but smiles, (and sometimes chuckles and confused looks after mispronouncing every word in our phrasebook.)

Indonesia firsts:

  • Sharing a ferry ride with a guy holding two plastic bags, each filled with three live chickens.
  • 20 hours bus rides with no AC.
  • Being the only guest in a hotel (Couldn’t  stop  thinking about the Shining).
  • Waking up to Muslim prayer starting at 4am.
  • Visiting a restaurant with no utensils.  Get those hands dirty. (I must admit that Mariana was a lot more adventurous about this than I was)
  • Going on a taxi ride for two hours only to end up back where we started.
  • First bus stop replaced with a Shopping Mall.
  • A multi-religious mosque/church/hindu temple combo.
  • The one guy in town who speaks English got applause after helping us.
  • The bus driver really does stop whenever he wants. One of ours stopped for a tea about 15 minutes after his hour long lunch break.
  • Not seeing another traveler in 4 days. (and seeing 4,000 in the first few minutes of the Bali airport)
  • The first muslim/christian/hindu temple.
  • Littering, spitting, and vomiting all in one bus ride!
  • Torajan Funeral.  Pictures say more than words possibly can about this ceremony.

3 comments to Indonesia Firsts

  • Melodika

    Holly Molly! Thank goodness you guys are okay! Welcome back…..xoxoxo

  • Natasha

    Dang – Now I really wish I made it down there!!!

  • gianmaria


    I love your pictures guys.
    I did not know they had elephants in Cambodia?!?
    These pictures from Phi Phi island look really cool!
    Your beard is longer than mine…good, I like it.
    I wish I were in Phuket or something, but I am still in NY-DC 😉

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