So many places to see in Indonesia

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Asia » Indonesia
September 4th 2011
Published: September 23rd 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Can you believe I’ve been gone for over 7 months already! I know I can’t. I just spent the last 7 weeks in a country called Indonesia, which is made up of over 17,000 islands where 739 different languages are spoken. I have a hard enough time just trying to learn ONE new language. At least everyone here can understand one common Indonesian language, and it’s actually not as hard as you’d think to learn it. Little did we know, we would have to learn some FAST in order to go to some of the places we were headed to. We first crossed overland from Borneo into Kalimantan and made our way to a little island called Derawan. It took us a total of 3 days to get here with trying to catch different ferries and car rides. How many of you wouldn’t mind sitting in a car for 9 hours in a day? That sure is a long time! I had to do my best to stretch out when we stopped, especially my tail! The first thing you notice when you get into Indonesia, is that the people aren’t used to seeing westerners very often (or monkeys traveling with them for that matter). Everywhere we went people wanted to say hi to us and try to find out where we were from and where we were going.

Pulau Derawan turned out to be amazing! Nate and Jessie went snorkeling a lot and got to see lionfish for the first time! I was so jealous! At least I got to see some of the turtles they had seen when they were out there. They took a break on one of the piers and we got to watch about 20 different turtles come up for a breath of air all around us. You could actually hear them breath because they were so close to us! Then, I heard a loud splash and jumped up on Jessie’s shoulders. “Ah! What was that?!” I yelled. Jessie said, “It’s ok Wylie. Look straight down.” There were barracuda fish hunting and making the other fish jump out of the water right below us. “Whew! That almost scared me right out of my shirt!” I must sound like a scaredy cat, but that caught me by surprise. There was part of me that wanted to try to jump down and swim with the turtles, but not after seeing that! Monkey is NOT on the menu guys.

Speaking of turtles, there was a turtle conservation project on the island that was run by a few of the local people and one of the rangers. One night, we got to go see some of the babies. Little did we know that we would actually be watching them hatching and working their way out of the nest! We even got to help collect them and find the ones who were running around on the beach and couldn’t find the water. It was amazing! Once we rounded up all the babies, we also got to go see a turtle dig a nest and lay eggs right on the beach we were on! Can you believe she laid over 100 eggs?! The ranger said that only about 1 out of every 100 babies makes it to be an adult, so it’s a good thing they lay so many eggs! As if this wasn’t cool enough, the ranger said we could help release the babies into the water. That meant we could hold them in our hands, take them to the water, and let them go so they could be free. Isn’t that neat? We all felt really lucky to be a part of that. You wouldn’t believe how strong those little guys are right away when they’re born. You can definitely tell that they were meant to be in the water all of their lives.

We were off to a great start in Indonesia after being at Derawan! Our next stop was an island called Sulawesi. We started in the north and went to a small island called Bunaken, where we stayed with a family who lives on the island. The 2 little girls LOVED to play with us and we all had a great time when we were there. One of the best parts about this island, again, was the snorkeling. Nate and Jessie said it was the best reef they’ve ever seen! If any of you ever watch National Geographic, it looked like it was right off of that TV show! There were so many fish swimming around them they couldn’t believe it. I think one of my favorite parts there was walking down the dirt streets and seeing all of the other kids who lived here. I kept hearing kids everywhere saying, “Hey, look at the monkey!” We played tag, hide and go seek, and paper-rock-scissors for hours! The youngest girl who lived where we were staying, Yona, could actually outrun Nate! She was really, really fast! I bet I would win a race swinging in the trees though! Haha!

Traveling on Sulawesi took more time than we thought it would. We had to spend hours and hours in the car and on buses as we tried to get to the next place we wanted to see. One time, we were on a road high in the mountains and we were coming up to a place where the road had washed out recently. If you would have taken a picture of us as we went through the skinny, muddy road right next to the edge of the road with over a 200 foot drop next to it, I’m pretty sure you would’ve seen 3 blueberry colored faces from us holding our breath! The roads here are really bad pretty much everywhere you go. The other challenge on Sulawesi is that literally NOBODY speaks English. Nate and Jessie had to learn some Indonesian and try to act out what they were trying to say in order for people to understand them. It was much harder than when we were in Laos on the motorbike trip. We made it to Tana Toraja, a place that is famous for funeral ceremonies because the people here believe that dying is the most important part of life because the afterlife is what you look forward to. They also believe that your animals should go with you, as in your water buffalo and pigs, so they sacrifice them at your funeral. We went to one of the funerals one day, then to see some hanging graves in the mountains and baby graves in trees. If a baby died and the family was wealthy, they would actually “bury” them in a tree by carving out a hole for the child so that it could grow with the tree. Isn’t that crazy?

Eventually we made our way to Bali and spent some time on the beach where we all went to Pizza Hut and McDonald’s since all we’d been living on is rice. It was so nice to have pizza again! Yum! We got to spend some time on the beaches soaking up sun and relaxing before heading inland to Ubud. Nate and Jessie rented a motorbike so we could go check out some of the other towns around. They had some really neat rice terraces here too, kind of like in Vietnam but not nearly as big. We stopped at some temples nearby and even stopped to buy a big wooden tribal mask from one of the shops. I helped Nate and Jessie bargain with the lady so they would get a good deal. We took an overnight bus to get to Java, and Nate almost screamed when we were on the bus in the middle of the night because we had to drive onto a ferry that took us over water, and it started rocking really bad at one point. I have to be honest, I had MY face hidden in the seat, too! That’s scary! I was glad to get back on land, that’s for sure! The next place on the list was Mount Bromo, one of the many active volcanoes in Indonesia. We had to get up at 1:30 in the morning to make our way there from the town we were staying in just to make it on time for sunrise. It was really, really cold when we got there! Brrr! I could see my breath even in the dark, and my poor little tail was shivering like crazy! Nate had to put me in his jacket…well, actually it wasn’t just to warm me up. When I was sitting on his shoulder, my tail was tickling his ear when I shivered. Hehe! “Wylie! Your tail is wiggling in my ear! Come on, get in my jacket to stay warm.” At least it helped. All I needed in there was a little TV and a cup of hot chocolate! Haha!

When we got to Yogyakarta next, we booked a trip to go see some temples outside of town for sunrise, so it was another early morning for us. This time I didn’t even wake up because I was just too tired, so Jessie carried me there instead. Thanks Jessie! I really liked Borobudor! Even though we had seen Angkor Wat a few months ago, I really enjoyed seeing this temple and all of the different carvings. I could have climbed around there for hours! Well, if it wasn’t so hot outside that is. My little shirt was soaking wet after all those stairs! We only had another week left in Indonesia, so we headed to a little beach town called Pangandaran where we got go to body rafting down a nice, freshwater river. We strapped our lifejackets on and floated all the way down. It was a LOT of fun, but we definitely got a few bruises on the rocks along the way. It was nice for me to be so small though. Every little rapid was like a giant slide at a water park for me. Weeeeee! I was loving it!

I really enjoyed Indonesia, and I got to see lots of things I had never seen before. It was probably the hardest country to travel through on our trip yet, but it was worth it! How can you not love being on beaches, snorkeling, holding baby turtles, seeing temples, and floating down a river? Our next stop is Singapore, where we’re planning on visiting the zoo. I can’t wait!

Your Friend,

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