Maybe it’s because I caught some of the best waves of my life, or maybe it’s because I still have a scar from ringworm on my leg, but I can’t stop thinking about Indonesia. It has been roughly six weeks since I left Indo, and I still miss the delicious Nasi Goreng, friendly faces, fresh coconuts, and of course, the unbeatable waves of the Indian Ocean. The following are seven reasons I can’t stop thinking about Indonesia, which are also seven reasons you should probably get there immediately.
It’s no secret that I’m in it for the beaches, and Indonesia is one giant beach paradise. More than 17,000 islands stretch between two oceans, offering everything from empty white sand shores to golden beaches packed with party animals. Best of all, Indonesia is loaded with world-class surf breaks, and if you travel far enough away from the tourist centers, you can have the perfectly peeling, tropical waves all to yourself.
2. Nasi Goreng
Indonesia isn’t known for its Michelin-starred restaurants or trendy food trucks, it’s know for its warungs. Warungs are modest Indonesian cafes with cheap eats (meals cost roughly $1-$3), serving up home-cooked dishes including rice, noodles, vegetables, eggs, meat, seafood and an array of other fresh ingredients. Don’t forget to eat numerous helpings of the country’s signature rice dish, Nasi Goreng. Squirt some sambal (hot chili sauce) on top, and you’ll see why you don’t have to pay top dollar to eat like a king in Indo.
Holy crap, the prices. My frugal self loves that I can eat for a few dollars a day, rent a motorbike for $5 a day, buy a Hurley shirt for $3 (OK it’s a knock-off), fly to another island for less than $200, get a massage for $4, and sleep steps from one of the best waves in the world for $15 per night. And when basic accommodations just don’t do the trick, I can shell out $35 per night for a luxury resort with a swim-up bar back in Bali.
4. The People
From the guy who climbed a tree every day because we liked coconuts to our new best friend Ketut who took us into her home the day we met, the people of Indonesia are more generous, warm and welcoming than I ever imagined. I’d heard about the hawkers, scammers and pushy tuk tuk drivers that come standard in Indonesian tourist areas (and just about all touristy areas of the world), and I dealt with them too, but if you stick to the touristy areas, you’re not experiencing the real Indonesia.
5. The Farm Animals
Pigs on the beach. Goats on the porch. It may be because I prefer crowds of animals to crowds of people, but it’s also the comedy of seeing 20 pigs eating seaweed on the sand as the sun goes down that makes me love the abundance of animals in Indo. Whether you’re on the beach, in the forest or cruising through the countryside, it’s likely you’ll see a goat, a pig, a chicken or even a monkey staring back at you…and trying to steal your food.
6. Mixed Juice
Why can’t America catch on to this one? A 100-percent fruit smoothie doesn’t have to cost $7. There’s nothing like an ice cold mixed fruit smoothie to start your day, after a long surf and with dinner at night. And it’s even better that it costs just $1-$2 in Indonesia. If drinks this delicious and healthy were the same price as a Coke here in the U.S.A., we might not need Nutrisystem.
7. The Adventures
Every day is an adventure in Indonesia. Whether it was cruising on a motorbike to explore a deserted beach, skipping the second surf of the day to discover a new snorkel spot, snapping selfies with monkeys, getting stranded in the Indian Ocean with a broken surf leash, bemo rides with strangers or tasting coffee on a rice paddy, there is always something new to discover. And with nearly 17,000 islands left for me to explore, I can’t help but start searching for plane tickets back.