An Indonesian Experience

 

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This guest article was written by my cousin, Chelsea, about her experience going to Indonesia. Enjoy!

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At the beginning of the year, I decided that I really wanted to take a trip to Southeast Asia.  I wasn’t quite sure where though.  I researched several different options, but ultimately settled on Indonesia.  I am not quite sure what exactly drew me to it.  Maybe, it was the beautiful beaches, maybe it was the variety of exotic animals, or maybe I wanted to feel like Julia Roberts in ‘Eat, Pray, and Love.’  But ultimately, I decided Indonesia was where I was going and I stuck to it.  I wasn’t able to convince any of my friends or family to go.  I decided that was okay though.  In my past trips, I had always met several solo travelers.  I had always been super envious of them.  They had the guts to just go out on their own and explore the world.  I told myself, “Why not me too?”  Next thing you know, I had bought a plane ticket to Denpasar.  I was really doing this!

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Indonesia is a beautiful country comprised of somewhere between 17,508 – 18,306 islands.  Trying to see all of them on a measly two week vacation is an impossible feat.  I decided to focus my trip on 2 islands.  I went to several places from each island.  But I had one favorite from each.

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The first of my favorites was Mt. Batur on the island of Bali.  It is an active volcano in northern Bali.  I was able to find a tour to watch the sunrise from the top of Mt. Batur.  The tour company picked me up bright and early at 2 am along with several other travelers.  We drove about an hour to the base of the mountain.  From there we met up with several other tour groups.  The amount of people that were almost willing to wake up so early in the morning was incredible.  Literally hundreds of people just waiting to start the hike.

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When we started it was basically a steady stream of people climbing.  There was just a line of people going straight up the side of the mountain all holding flashlights.  It was an odd sight mixed with the crystal clear night sky.  We could see all the stars perfectly.  The hike was rather steep, but the combination of the stars and the fantastic group of people from all over made the steep climb enjoyable.

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When we got to a plateau near the top, the sun was just starting to peak over the mountains.  It was absolutely gorgeous!  From there, you could climb a bit higher.  I figured I went this high, I might as well go to the top.  It was steeper, but when I made it to the top I will say it was 100% worth it!  Just an absolute gorgeous view!  We were above the clouds, so you could see the other mountain tops all around.  The sun was just rising over the tallest mountain on the island, Mount Agung, as well other island mountains off in the distance. There was a 360 degree view that allowed you to see down in the caldera that had formed almost 30,000 years ago.  It was just so hard to explain the beautiful views any better with words, so I’ll just let my photos do the explaining.

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On the second island, my favorite location wasn’t really on the island itself.  It was diving in the Komodo National Park.  I had heard so many good things about this area, so how could I pass it up!  I mean, who doesn’t want to see a dragon?  I originally went here just to start a 4 day boat trip from Labuan Bajo on Flores Island.  Unfortunately, I ran into some problems with my trip and had to leave a day later than I expected.  It turned out to be a blessing in disguise.

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The town of Labuan Bajo is just a small fishing town and a place where tourists go to start their trips to Komodo National Park.  There isn’t much going on in the town itself, so I was a bit bummed at first that I was going to have to stay there an extra day.  I ended up deciding to fill the whole extra day with an impromptu diving trip.

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I was able to do three dives all over Komodo National Park, which has protected waters.  All three dives were absolutely gorgeous.  But the one that stood out the most to me was Batu Bolong.  It was like diving in this beautiful fish bowl.  The variety of fish as well as the stunning, colorful wall of coral just made for the perfect dive.  I felt like I was in “Finding Nemo.”  But the highlight of this dive was swimming so close to two different sea turtles.

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The next dive site that must be mentioned is Manta Point.  The site itself isn’t much to look at, but if you get lucky the wildlife makes it worth it and boy did I get lucky!  As the name states, this is a great place to find manta rays.  I saw several the whole time we were diving.  I think maybe a total of 5 that ranged from 3-4 meters long.  Right at the end of the dive we struck gold though.  There was a manta ray that was maybe 8-10 meters from us.  We stayed there and observed it for at least 5 minutes.  It just circled around this coral plant several times and appeared to be casually swimming.  We were close enough to see its gills moving in and out and while some fish cleaned its belly.  Watching this animal in its natural habitat and being able to be close enough to see those details was absolutely amazing to me.

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These were only two of adventures on this trip out of many more.  These are my two most highly recommended though.  Indonesia is a large and diverse place.  One day I plan to go back and see more of the islands for certain.  But if you get a chance to go to Indonesia go Bali and go to Komodo.  They are an absolute must and you will not be let down!

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