Many people have heard of the beautiful island of Bali, known both for its stunning nature as well as for its nightlife. Yet Bali is only one of over 17,000 islands that make up the unique archipelago of Indonesia. It is a diverse country rich with culture, temples and nature. Each island has its own culture, food and language and you really are spoiled for choice with so many travel destinations to choose from. Indonesia is a must visit travel destination for anyone heading to South East Asia and is a country that will leave you wanting more.
Below are five things that every girl should know before heading to Indonesia:
Due to the popularity of the Hindu island of Bali as a travel destination, many people don’t realise that Indonesia is the largest Islamic nation in the world. As such, make sure to pack conservatively, ditch the short skirts and instead pack sarongs and clothes that cover your knees, shoulders and chest. This will help to avoid any unwanted attention and make it easier to blend in with the locals. Make sure you always use your right hand when greeting people, paying and eating and avoid over the top displays of affection with the opposite sex in public.
Pack less to buy more:
Indonesia is a great place to shop. In the rainy season, make sure you buy a pair of rubber shoes from the market, it will be a lifesaver after an unexpected monsoonal downpour. The traditional Indonesian fabric pattern is called Batik and is unique to each region so make sure you buy a dress or skirt made out of it and rock it like a local. Indonesia is also famed for its markets so get ready to shop up big. There are only two seasons, the wet and dry, so make sure you pack as much breathable materials as possible and stay away from synthetic material unless you want to sweat more! Embrace your inner gypsy and think long flowing skirts, scarfs, harem pants and floaty shirts. Packing for your time in Indonesia needn’t be a hassle and less is defiantly more.
Get ready for spice!
Indonesians love adding spice to their food so don’t make the mistake of thinking that the red sauce on the restaurant table is ketchup or your taste buds might be in for a rude shock! The word ‘pedas’ (spice) must be one of the first things you learn to say in Indonesian as part of your culinary adventures. Depending on the region you are in the spice might already be added to the food and in places like Sulawesi it is placed onto the side of the plate. If you cant handle spice make sure to learn to say ‘tidak pedas’ early on, no spice!
Get into nature:
Famed for its unique biodiversity Indonesia is the destination for getting off the beaten track and taking in the natural wonders of the world. Make sure to pack your hiking boots for that trekking expedition to try and spy some orang-utans in Borneo. Or if the ocean is calling you make sure you bring your snorkel, as there is some of the worlds best dive reefs in Indonesia. With so many islands to choose from it is worth getting out of the main cities to explore the differing and unique cultures and way of life of each island.
Did Lady Gaga just walk past? Once outside of the cities many locals may have never seen a foreigner before except on television, so get ready for the stares. This is rarely intended in a malicious way and once you make eye contact with an Indonesian and smile they will often return the grin. Calls of “hey miss” are normal and many people are just trying to practice their English with you. It is also normal for a truck driver, talking on his phone, trying to cut across four lanes of traffic to hang out of the window yelling hello. Indonesians are so friendly and welcoming, if a little shy to start with, but if you need help with anything on your travels there will always be a crowd of people offering to help.