Try to imagine a land. Land that extends so far, far away that even the idea to go there sounds like a great adventure. Land surrounded by ocean from every side, occupied by unknown animals and covered by wildwood (at least that’s how I thought it looks like). Sounds familiar? No? Let me tell you little bit more..
Imagine palm trees, paddy fields and teagardens. Mountain peaks towering from haze in a distance. Sacred places and temples with gorgeous architecture standing there for thousands years. Small villages where the time stood still and on the other side huge metropolis which hardly ever sleeps. Stunning beaches looking like a lost paradise, fuming volcanos but on the other hand also rubbish, cockroaches, rats and this ever-present bad smell of rotten food and scum. Incessant hot and humidity. Mess and chaos. Increasing economy with hundreds of starving beggars on the streets. Traffic jams and smog together with deluge of honking motorbikes. Irritating mosquitos and flies.
Cheap cigarettes and expensive alcohol. Delicious food, some not so delicious food and plenty of chilli that makes you cry. Rice for breakfast, rice for lunch, rice for dinner. Rice everywhere, all the time. Always smiling and helpful people.
Sincere smile and whooping school-boys passing by.
Various and multiple culture. Islam, Ramadhan and fasting. Beliefs. Faith. Diversity. Mosque in every village. Traditions and habits going down the history. Bali, the unique and mystical island. Places where you can find more tourists than locals but also places where people saw a white person only in the tooth paste advertising. Sunscreen with a protective filter volume 60 and higher, sunblocks and useless whitening shower gels. Coloured contact lens. Western ideal of beauty. Whitening injections worth thousands dollars. Low brick houses with raised floor and deflected rooftop. Playground full of pupils playing football under the midday sun dressed in thick training suits and hijabs around their head in 35°C. Academic two hours delay. Thousands islands, remote places and beauties you simply cannot find anywhere else.
All of this and much, much more is Indonesia. Country which is impossible not to hate. Place where you’re going to spend half of your life in a traffic jam and the rest of the life waiting for somebody to come late. Country which force you to hate rice after just one week eating it every day (but you will eventually buy a rice cooker after coming back home anyway). Country where you’re really not sure if the colour of your skin is actually a sun-tan or just a dust and dirt impossible to wash away by the standard cold water in a shower.
But at the same time country you will somehow love so much. You can dedicate your whole life travelling across this land and exploring its highlights but you will only see one thousandth of it.
Even though I am badly aware of all it’s flaws and imperfections and there’s plenty of things I really hate about this spot on a map – I simply cannot get enough. I doesn’t make any sense, it’s totally illogical but still.. Friend of mine asked me a question recently. „If you hate it here so much, why you keep coming back then?“ To be honest.. I don’t know. It’s just a place which happened to win my heart. I call it my second home. It makes me feel special. Not the country itself but those people. They are SPECIAL. After all weeks and months I thougtht I know them. I thought I understood them. But there is always some kind of unexpected surprise.
You can never be prepared enough for Indonesia. Even though you may think you know pretty well, you’ve read and been told enough, it’s not that simple. Everything changes from day to day, from minute to minute. Opinions, promises, meeting times. That’s reality. Don’t try to struggle, don’t try to teach them or change them. Either respect them and love them how they are or leave. You cannot win this fight. You’re the guest. Learn from them. So that you can find out how lovely and gorgeous those people are.
It’s a different culture, different people with a different point of view. Get used to it and chill out. That’s the only thing you can do. And you will enjoy in eventually. Because this is actually freaking paradise!