I’ve just been reminded by Facebook that this time four years ago I was spending a couple of weeks on a wonderful group tour of Bali and Lombok in Indonesia. It stirred up a lot of great memories and after flicking through all the photos I came across these tongue-in-cheek notes I made at the end of my trip. If you’ve been to Indonesia, I’m sure you can relate to some, if not all, of these.
1. You’re getting sick of rice.
Indonesia is the third-largest producer of rice in the world. It’s a staple food in the country and it’s served in most meals.
2. The novelty of being a millionaire has worn off and you don’t think twice about paying a couple of hundred thousand for dinner and a few drinks.
Today, 100,000 Indonesian Rupiah is worth £5.49.
3. You’ve adopted ‘rubber time’ to the point that the primary purpose of your watch is to look pretty.
‘Rubber time’ is the English translation of the Indonesian phrase ‘Jam Karet’. Time is often flexible and if someone tells you he’ll pick you up at six to take you to the airport, he’ll get there when he gets there.
4. The geckos in your room no longer bother you; in fact you’ve come to think of them like pets and have given them names.
Geckos are infinitely preferable room-mates to spiders – have you seen the size of spiders in Indonesia?!
5. You’ve adopted lots of new words into your vocabulary such as ‘jaffle’ for toasted sandwich.
Apparently ‘jaffle’ is the word for toastie in lots of other countries too, including Australia and South Africa, although I hadn’t come across this before.
6. Zooming around on the back of a scooter with no helmet on, while being undertaken and overtaken with an inch to spare by motorbikes carrying numerous people, no longer fills you with mortal fear; instead you feel a sense of freedom and excitement.
Two-wheeled transport is the most efficient way of getting around Indonesia. Around 8 in 10 of all registered vehicles are motorbikes.
7. You’ve had ‘Bali Belly’ so many times you’ve used up your entire pack of Imodium.
Travellers to Indonesia are often affected by an upset stomach caused by a change in diet and lifestyle. Symptoms can include diarrhoea, nausea and vomiting, stomach cramps and general weakness.
8. You no longer have to remind yourself of the word for thank you as ‘tear in my car seat’, it just comes out naturally as ‘terima kasih’.
Locals always appreciate an attempt to speak basic words in their language but Indonesian phrases are generally not very easy for English tourists to remember.
9. There’s not a single part of your body that hasn’t been bitten by a mosquito.
Indonesia has one of the world’s highest infection rates of the mosquito-borne disease Dengue Fever, for which no vaccine is available. Symptoms include high fever and severe headache and the only treatment is rest and Paracetamol. Use insect avoidance measures at all times.
10. Hearing the jingling bells on a horse and cart no longer automatically makes you think of Christmas, sleighs and reindeer; it makes you think of a horse and cart.
The Gili Islands remain the only place I’ve ever taken a horse and cart ride home after a night out, and although it was a very memorable experience, I wouldn’t have done this if I’d been aware at the time of the animal cruelty and abuse associated with the business.