I remember at the beginning of this year when I first made the choice that I want to explore Asia, the first place that came to my mind was India. I’ve been in love with India without even seeing it, it was my dream to go there and while I was asking around about it and one girl told ” no, I went to Indonesia instead” I have no idea what happened that day, but the word Indonesia got stuck in my head, cause never in million years would I’ve even imagined going there, the country never even crossed my mind. It took me only two days to say ” Hell yeah, I need to travel to that country right now”.
I still remember whenever I told anyone that i’m planning on going there, the reactions were like “what? why? don’t you want to go to Europe? Indonesia is poor, you would hate it” I remember their expressions whenever i said the country’s name, it annoyed the hell out of me because they never even bothered to even look at the pictures of the country. All i kept thinking about that I don’t care, i just want to enrich myself in that country. You see, being an Egyptian we all tend to travel to Europe, maybe because it’s near us, maybe because it’s always been viewed that the most beautiful places in the world are in Europe, because we Egyptians prefer luxury than culture.
What can I say about Indonesia? my words will not do it justice, it took me close to 13 hours to
travel there and let me just say it was worth every second.
The first second i was out of the airport, the greenery hit my eyes and the huge amount of motorcycles that were racing through the streets. At first, i thought there was some kind of race but then with a bit of time, it turned out that motorcycles in that huge amount is normal, like every house there has like 4 or 5 motorcycles. I remember a friend of mine from Portugal was with me he used to joke about that the number of the motorcycles in Jakarta (the capital) is the same number of people living in Portugal (10 million). Moving on, I was in Indonesia for 47 days to volunteer as an english teacher in a school and I was supposed to stay in a host family there, the first thing that i did wrong was entering the house without taking my shoes off, because in my country we don’t take off our shoes before entering any house but in Indonesia they take it as an offense but thankfully the family understood that i didn’t know about this little fact. To stress more on that subject there were even local restaurants in the streets where you had to take your shoes off as well. It was something that took me a bit of time to get used to. What else? yes, walking down the street and not smiling is a crime to them, people there do nothing but smile to each other and if you aren’t smiling they will do their best to make you smile. I remember I was walking for about 2 hours in the streets of Semarang ( in central java), the city is not touristic at all even though it had a lot of sightseeing to do, but walking there people would always look at you because you’re someone new, they would come and take pictures with, they would try to give me gifts and they would want me to sit with them and enjoy a meal even though they don’t speak English at all.
However, it wasn’t always sunrise and rainbows, always expect that bad situations are bound to happen when you’re traveling but still i wouldn’t have done it in any other way. Let me start with the first bad thing that happened, it was actually when I landed in Semarang, two people were waiting for me; my host sister and my buddy ( in the organization that I was in they provided each volunteer with a buddy to help you with things). You would think that they will come with a car or a taxi to take my luggage but instead they told that they came with their motorcycles and what instantly came to my mind ” who the hell would take someone from the airport with a motorcycle?” but they got me a taxi, they throw me in it and mumbled something to the driver and he went on his way, i didn’t even have the chance to ask about the address myself or anything and then the taxi got lost… they weren’t behind us and yes, i started panicking and all i thought about that from now on i’ll be living in the streets with nothing and then everything is destroyed but finally i pulled my mind out of the gutter and started to think and make plans and my plan was to get a sim card, call the girls and figure this mess out, i did that and everything was back to normal. So yeah, when i think about it now it wasn’t that big of a deal but it shook me a bit at that time however i was proud of myself that at least I solved the problem.
Getting used to the food was also a bit of a hardship, Indonesians eat a lot in the morning like
really a lot, i woke up the first day of school to the smell of onion being fried and rice being
cooked. Yes, they eat fried food in the morning, rice was like bread or toast to them and the idea
of some salt was not understood by them. The people there love food so much that the first
thing they would ask me about everyday was what kind of food do I like here (they didn’t care
about my culture or anything…). Moreover, don’t find it offensive or weird when random locals
and ask you about your religion, at first when they would ask i found it a bit weird but never
commented but then it got a little out of hand, like everyday people would come and ask about
my religion which is supposed to be a private thing. There’s so much more to write about
Indonesia but it would turn into a long essay if i wrote it in one post, so basically all you need to
know so far that if you’re looking for a beautiful, peaceful place with the most genuine and
kindest people then pack your stuff and go.