The eclipse trip is on! Tell me about travelling in Indonesia

So after all, I’m going to see the eclipse in Indonesia. There was a cancellation and I got the place. It’s a 3 week trip round lots of sights. After all, the eclipse itself is only 3 minutes. I’ll mainly be in Sulawesi and Java, visiting Flores, Yogyakarta, Komodo, Palu, and many other places.

So, what to take? I’ve been to Brunei before, but that was a decade ago and I’ll be going to areas where I’ll be more at risk of disease. Deet, eucalyptus oil, a spare mosquito net, and an umbrella / parasol are all on my list, but what else? How much currency should I take?

I’ll be checking my travel insurance and speaking to my bank about account security. Anything else?

Have fun! I lived in Acen Indonesia for a couple of years, but the only place I’ve traveled to on your list is Yogyakarta, which is a pretty, if sleepy town; there are some beautiful temples nearby and if you get a chance you should visit them. Check with your bank, but I wouldn’t bring a lot of cash. ATMs are pretty common and as long as your bank is on a major network like Cirrus, you will be able to get cash pretty easily.

Airports in Indonesia can be pretty annoying. Luggage porters can be really aggressive and try to grab your bag at the airport. Sometimes they pull this semi-scam where they act like they’re just airport workers taking luggage off the belt and the next thing you know you’re being escorted to your cab where they want a pretty big tip. Fortunately, the airport is about the worst part of the travel, so once you get out of it, you’ll be fine.

Bring some hand sanitizer in small bottles with you. When you travel, it’s wise to keep your hands clean as it’s a drag to get sick far from home on vacation. You might want to stick to bottled water; I worked on water sanitation projects in Aceh, but know nothing about the water quality elsewhere in the country.

Tourist places can be overrun with aggressive salespeople, buskers, etc. If you aren’t interested, don’t engage in any kind of conversation, just avoid eye contact and keep moving; if you say something just to be polite, they will often interpret that as the beginning of haggling; it is more polite not to waste their time or yours if you’re not interested.

Don’t know why you would want to include Jogjakarta in your itinerary unless it happens to be near the maximum eclipse duration area.

I taught at a girls high school in Jogja and I can tell you there isn’t much to see. However, the Borobudur Temple is several miles north of the city and worth a visit. Don’t think about going to the beach when you see the nearby Indian Ocean on a map. The closest beach is Pantai Parangtritis, but its not worth a visit. The sand is dirty and the ocean is rough. I used to go there only to get out of the city.

Bali and Lombak still have some nice beaches. Go there if you can.

I quite liked Yogja - the crazy 3D signage is great. We went there after Borobudur in order to climb Mt. Merapi. Unfortunately it was erupting so that never happened.

Borodudur is really great, definitely worth the trip.

Flores is close to perfection for me - still very “off the beaten track” but reasonably easy to get around. We hired a car + driver. The sea is amazing, the Riung 17 Islands national park is mind-blowing both above and below the water.

(It is also one of the only places where dog is eaten in Indonesia, but I could not find that anywhere. We did see a road-crew cooking one over a fire. )

Oh - sit on the left side if flying in by aeroplane… the view of the crater of Gunung Egong is worth it - there was lava when I flew in.

I also went to quite a few places in Western Java, one of my favourites is the tiny isthmus of Pangandaran. I reached this from Yogva via overnight train, it is a pleasant, tiny holiday village with an equally small national park, which features thousands of flying foxes and Raflesia Fatma (the smaller, equally smelly cousin of R. Arnoldii).

Pangandaran also had the best seafood I’ve ever eaten; though the restaurant, as is typical of Indonesia, was just a plastic tent with a few plastic tables!

Finally: Jakarta. It is huge and challenging to get around. It is dirty and smelly. You can get trapped in traffic for several hours without moving more than a few metres. But I really liked it - there are lots of very small, very interesting areas and things to see. If you are reasonably tolerant of packed bodies in the train, that’s a good way to get around the city (easier than driving) and you can hire a tuktuk for short distance travel.

Language: I found basic Bahasa Indonesia incredibly easy to learn. I’d been in western Java for less than a week before I could negotiate prices, ask directions and carry on basic conversations. Obviously the more you try to speak, the faster you will learn, but it is really basic.

Prambanan is another great temple to visit near Yogya. Parts of the Ramayana are danced there during full moons - it’s quite beautiful. You may not have enough flexibility in your scheduling to go there, but if you can, the Dieng Plateau near Wonosobo in Java seems like a spectacular place to visit (I keep meaning to go there myself but haven’t yet arranged it - you need someone to drive you there and there aren’t a lot of options for accommodations nearby).

If you are going to Flores, I assume Keli Mutu is on the list? It’s fantastic!

We’re going to see the eclipse too, by the way - to Belitung.

I’ve got the Lonely Planet Indonesian phrasebook on order.

I will be seeing the eclipse from Palu. From Yogya, I will be visiting Borobudur and Prambanan. Unfortunately, not at the full moon.

Somewhat tangential to the thread, but the whole “bahasa Indonesia is so easy to learn!” meme is a bit misguided. More accurately, the “Me Tarzan, you Jane” version of b. Indonesia is indeed easier than in most languages, because Indonesian doesn’t have tenses or cases. However, learning to speak, read and write “real” Indonesian, for someone whose native language is English, is considered more difficult than most Romance and at least some Asian languages. It lacks cognates and has a completely different grammatical structure than English.

(Cites are available for this but I’m too lazy to find them…if anyone really wants to object, speak up and I’ll see what I can do.)