A Day in Old Jakarta

As Southeast Asia’s largest city, Jakarta is a destination often avoided by travellers, given its relatively poor reputation of being dirty, polluted and bursting with traffic. It doesn’t have the lustful beaches or the majestic landscapes welcoming travellers in. For many, Jakarta is simply an arrival point into Indonesia before quickly heading east towards the drawcards of Yogyakarta, Bali, and Lombok.

Based on what we had heard, we didn’t have great expectations for Jakarta, but still wanted to give ourselves at least a little time there to have a look around and get a feel for the city. We had allocated our final two nights in Indonesia, essentially one full day, to see what Jakarta was all about.

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We arrived late one afternoon into one of Jakarta’s many bus stations after a tiresome, yet relatively comfortable (i.e. functioning air-conditioning and no chickens pooping at your feet), 10-hour bus ride from Pangandaran. After another hour spent battling the bustling traffic in a taxi, we finally checked in to our hotel which was perfectly comfortable, despite our shoebox of a room being so small that we had to give way to each other if we wished to access the door or the bathroom.

It must be said that particularly for travellers on both budget and time constraints, Jakarta is not an easy city to get around. It lacks trains or a metro, and many taxi drivers lack working meters (or the desire to use it!), meaning you’re more likely to get ripped off. The cheapest way of getting around this sprawling city is by bus, however there was plenty to see in walking distance of our hotel to keep us occupied for the day without having to face being lost in the expanse of this city nearly 10 million people deep.

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Unfortunately, like many of Southeast Asia’s cities, Jakarta is also relatively difficult for walking around. Lack of a) footpaths, b) pedestrian crossings, and c) road rules in general, makes for a dangerous stroll up the side of the road – especially at night!

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We were staying in the northern part of the city, near the area known as Old Jakarta. We spent the morning wandering in the direction of a nearby local market which we strolled around until the heat got the better of us and we needed some air conditioning and a cold drink.

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We headed in the direction of Fatahilla Square, which houses the popular Cafe Batavia. Despite costing more than we would ever consider spending on a meal, we treated ourselves to a mocktail for morning tea. Sadly, we couldn’t justify the price of the real thing on our budget! Cafe Batavia was a beautiful setting – rather fancy compared to most of the restaurants we frequent!

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We wandered around the square for a while and took in the peace and calmness. It was like a little oasis amidst the chaos of Jakarta! You could definitely see the colonial Dutch influence in this part of the city, which dates back to the 16th century when Fatahilla Square was the heart of the city.

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In the afternoon we braved the walk down to some of the nearby malls for a look around – Kota is a popular shopping area in Jakarta. Crowded malls line the streets, each four or five or more stories tall and filled to the brim with so many things I wanted to buy…but that I really didn’t need. We re-emerged a few hours later, thankfully with a full wallet and empty hands.

Jakarta was also our first, and only (so far), experience with kedongdong juice. After eating deliciously greasy fast food for dinner the night before, we needed some greens in our lives. We found a great local restaurant for dinner and enjoyed a nourishing meal of satay, stir-fried greens and rice. Alan and I are both open to trying new things, so we ordered a couple of fresh juices recommended by the waiter. We were served some kind of dark green concoction that tasted unmistakably like freshly-mown grass (a little bit icky), and the lime-green kedongdong juice, which was relatively pleasant, tasting a little like green apple but much more sour and floury. However, we got a surprise when we were halfway through and noticed what looked like a rotten lump of something in our drink. We both thought there had been some kind of problem with the ice and that we were going to end up horribly ill, but thankfully the waiter was able to explain that it was a preserved sour plum that helps give the kedongdong juice its unique taste. Interesting…!

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We had such a short time in Jakarta, that I’m not sure I can comment either way on whether its poor reputation is justified. There is no doubt that the part of the city we saw is dirty (we saw plenty of rats while walking out to dinner in the evening), there are constant streams of traffic, it is hard to get around as a tourist and it is certainly polluted. On the surface, Jakarta is not a beautiful city. But, I think Fatahilla Square is a gem, and perhaps Jakarta is a bit of a rough diamond. That said, I’m not sure Jakarta will be drawing us back any time soon.

Have you visited Jakarta? What were your impressions?

Crushing my Surfing Dreams in Pangandaran, Indonesia

Pangandaran was originally on our Java itinerary as a mere night’s stopover on the way to Batu Karas, but after staying a night and realising that Pangandaran had everything we were looking for, we decided to extend our stay and enjoy the three nights we had up our sleeve in one spot.

“Everything’ I was looking for was simply a beach with surfing lessons, suitable for beginners, and thats more or less what I got.

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I’d been hanging out to learn how to surf since the beginning of the year, when we started planning for our trip to Costa Rica in May. Unfortunately, while we were there my back was injured in a particular tandem waterslide incident and I was unable to fulfil my dreams of becoming a pro surfer. When my back improved and we made our plans to visit Bali my surfing dreams re-emerged, only to be quashed again after arriving in Kuta and watching approximately a million people leaning how to surf right in front of me, constantly falling off their boards. Continue reading

Indulging in Yogyakarta, Indonesia

After our very long journey, we had finally arrived in Yogyakarta.

I loved this little city in Central Java, Indonesia, to bits. I’m not sure if my love stemmed from finally being able to sleep after our mega-journey, the fact that I finally remembered what being clean felt like, or because Yogaykarta, more commonly known as Jogja to the locals, truly is a lovely city.

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Perhaps the first thing I loved about Yogyakarta was where we stayed. We had been discussing our Indonesia itinerary with a fellow traveller during our time in Bali. “In Yogyakarta, you must stay at Hotel Rengganis!” she informed us, “It is a little more expensive than a hostel but it is so, so nice.” I’d made a note in my now dog-eared Lonely Planet, and hadn’t given it much thought until we were in Probolinggo and suddenly needed to book a room in Yogyakarta that night. With a stroke of luck, we managed to book the last room available.

And I’m so glad we did! Continue reading

A Magical Morning at Mount Bromo, Indonesia

Despite our fairly eventful journey before and after our visit to Mount Bromo in East Java, Indonesia, I’m so thankful we made the effort to experience the sheer beauty that this part of the world beholds.

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The sunrise from our viewpoint on Mount Peninjakan was beautiful. However, sharing it with hundreds of other people pushing and shoving to take their own photos was, uh, a bit annoying. Believe what you read if you come across other blogs suggesting to do a self-guided tour and offering alternative sunrise viewpoints – like Kristin’s tips from Be My Travel Muse – take my advice to take their advice!

Bromo sunrise

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If you had to pick between a sunrise and a sunset, what would you choose? I enjoyed our sunrise experience but have to admit that my preference is a dazzling sunset with wine in one hand, cheese in the other. Just sayin’.

My favourite part of the morning was climbing Mount Bromo itself and peering down into the steaming crater below – it was incredible! The landscape was like nothing I’ve ever seen before, it felt like a cross between a desert, some sort of prehistoric setting, and what I imagine standing on the moon might be like. Continue reading

Lovina to Mount Bromo to Yogyakarta: One Very Long Journey

Grab a cup of tea, a chocolate bikkie or two and take a seat, this post is a biggie.

Its all about our very long, seemingly continuous journey from Lovina in Bali to Probolinggo in Java, to Mount Bromo, back to Probolinggo, to Surabaya, to Yogyakarta. Throw in an overnight bus, a scamming tourist office, two stinking hot public busses, an overpriced taxi ride, brushing my teeth into an asian squatter toilet with visible feaces, combined with approximately zero hours of sleep and you have our 31 hour journey that I would prefer to not ever have to complete again.

But there were some good things in there too! We saw a steaming, live volcano, a beautiful sunrise, and hey, at least I had the chance to brush my teeth at all, right?

Curious? Let me start from the beginning.

It really did all begin quite well. As our overnight bus pulled up to our stop in Lovina, Bali, we jumped on eagerly, excited to be venturing across to the main island of Java in Indonesia. We were headed for Probolinggo, which is the jumping off point for the popular Mount Bromo. The bus was perfectly comfortable, the seats reclined and foot rests came right up so those of us who were short enough (sorry, Alan) could essentially lie flat. With the pillow and blanket provided I curled up and wished for a peaceful sleep.

Unfortunately, as I should know by now after taking plenty of overnight busses in Vietnam, this type of travelling is not conducive to sleep. The roads were bumpy and windy, the driver honking his horn constantly – sleep did not happen.

Perhaps I dozed off for 10 minutes or so as the bus boarded the ferry to take us from Bali to Java, however I’m unsure of this as I was more than mildly concerned about the boat situation – and I’ll explain exactly why. Continue reading

Alan’s Notes on Kuta, Bali

As you’ve probably figured, I’m travelling with my significant other/boyfriend/partner-in-crime, Alan. He feels compelled to share some of his stories and thoughts on the road on my humble blog – I didn’t force him, promise! This may become a regular feature, if Alan retains the writing bug. His first post is about Kuta, Bali. You can read my post on our time in Kuta here.


Up until this moment Christie has carefully drafted and completed all of the blogs on the Butterfly Editions. It was her goal to create and establish a blog that people would find insightful and entertaining whilst also providing some detailed information to our extended friends and family as to what we have been up to, and for our own memories.

Whilst I’m generally lying on the bed next to her reading her kindle and providing little to no help, after six weeks of travelling I have decided that it is time to give this blog thing a crack and maybe provide a slightly different point of view to our travelling adventures.

I’m writing this in my budget room on Coral Beach on the Perhentian Islands off the east coast of Malaysia. Pretty sweet huh? Except that it’s uncomfortably hot (30+deg) and due to the looming monsoon season and the lack of tourists the place we are staying in only runs power from 7pm to 7am, so I can’t even turn on the fan!

So what to write about? Christie writes about all the places we’ve been to and what we get up to so I’m not going to repeat that. I can’t specifically recall any funny stories, so I think I’ll write a series of blogs that give some insight to my specific highlights of my month in Indonesia, and hopefully throw in a few good tips! Continue reading

How to Budget When You Travel: Trail Wallet

Please note this post is my own personal opinion and is not compensated. Trail Wallet is simply an app I have discovered and love!

Travelling for a year is a scary prospect, especially when you have worked so hard to save up so much money and all of a sudden you are going to be blowing just about all of it, albeit on the travel experience of a lifetime!

To make our hard-earned money go as far as we can on our travels, we need to be tight on our budget and manage our money wisely.

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We have set ourselves a maximum budget of NZD $50 per day each (essentially $100 a day for the both of us). Having done plenty of research we know this is a feasible number to base our spending on, especially considering our travel plans are primarily within Asia, which is known to be significantly cheaper than Europe for backpackers (in most cases, anyway!).

Continue reading

Why you should visit North Bali

North Bali is a bit of an underdog in comparison to the popular areas in the South and East of Bali. It is a region sadly forgotten from many itineraries, overshadowed by the celebrity status of destinations like Kuta, Seminyak, Ubud, Uluwatu, the Gili Islands, Nusa Lembongan and so on.

We didn’t spend anywhere near long enough in beautiful North Bali, squeezing in just a mere two nights in a quiet beach town called Lovina – but I’m so glad we did.

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While our time in Kuta was fun and Ubud simply magical, Lovina was an escape from the densly-touristed areas of Bali to a place where westerners do not make up the majority of the population, and locals’ day-to-day lives go peacefully undisturbed by tourism.

Continue reading

Living the Good Life in Nusa Lembongan, Indonesia

After we left the almost-paradise of Gili Air, the very next day we were headed towards another island paradise of Nusa Lembongan. Living the good life, huh?

After a good local feed and a nights rest in Sanur, we boarded a slow boat for a peaceful 1.5 hour journey to Nusa Lembongan.

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We arrived about lunchtime and after checking in, wolfed down some noodles at a warung along the main street before settling poolside for the afternoon.

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Yup, thats a pretty choice looking pool for a budget guesthouse, right?

We LOVED our choice of accommodation in Nusa Lembongan – I will talk more about it in an upcoming post about all of our favourite accommodation right through Indonesia – but it goes without mention that if you are on a budget on Nusa Lembongan, I highly recommend staying at Nitya Homestay! I would go back in a heartbeat, even if just for the pool and the banana honey jaffles… Continue reading

Is Indonesia’s Gili Air Paradise?

Aaah, Gili Air. There is a lot to love about this little Indonesian island (and dare I say it, a couple of things not to love – but we’ll get to that).

The Gilis are a bunch of three small islands just off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia – however are also very accessible from a number of locations in Bali, which is the route we took to get there. The three islands are Gili Trawangan (better known as Gili T), Gili Meno and Gili Air.

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We knew we only had about three nights to spend on the Gilis so we decided to stick to just one island. It was a tough call deciding between Gili T (party reputation!) and Gili Air (peaceful reputation). Although we had plenty of great feedback on Gili T from friends who have been there, we naturally felt a pull towards the more chilled out Gili Air. Continue reading