Haiku #208 (Malu)


The sudden feeling
Shyness, of feeling awkward,
Inferior and

Constricted around
People of higher status.
A place of respect.



  1. PEOPLE will stare at you because you are different, you are a tourist. Don’t make it worse by wearing glamorous flashy clothes; try to blend in with plain boring clothes. Don’t make yourself a target and show off your wealth- pick-pocketing is a real problem.
  2. INSTEAD of paying top dollar for a tourist package bus trip to Borobudur, take the local systems– it’s cheaper and if you’re friendly with the bus driver, you get a local tour guide. It gives the bus route a reason to keep running and it equates to under 80 000 rupiah instead of over 500 000 rupiah. The same goes for hotels. Stay in the outskirts of the city central and get local transport or walk. It is significantly cheaper to stay out of town and the quality of the stay won’t be any worse, in fact it may be better because they want to attract people.
  3. THE COFFEE is very different. Don’t expect Western coffee.
  4. IF YOU’RE NOT AN INDONESIAN CITIZEN expect to be very ripped off at tourist destinations like Borobudur. The price difference is 190 000R v 30 000R for an international v. a citizen for park entry. Try and get student or senior discounts if you can.
  5. TAKE CARE of your identity. Have a money belt with your passport and all your spare cash on your person, under your clothes and never expose it.
  6. PHOTOCOPY your identity, flight itinerary, visa and other important documents. Leave a copy at home with a family member and give a copy to every one of your travellers. This is in case you get separated or your original goes missing.
  7. BRING A SICK BAG on night buses. If not for you, then for your neighbour.
  8. BRING A DIARY because a long trip in a foreign country with a foreign language can be very taxing on your concentration and mental health. Write all your feelings and experiences to have some time to debrief with yourself.
  9. IT’S A GOOD IDEA to do in-country currency exchange. Definitely bring local currency INTO the country, however as a back-up, bring currency to exchange. The rate is astronomically better than the exchange rates at home.
  10. EVEN THOUGH a good indicator for a safe place to eat is the number of locals who frequent it, REMEMBER that the flora and fauna in your stomach are not the same as those in Indonesia.




Image credit:!east–indonesia-art-history/croi

Gua Maria Puhsarang, East Java

As an international tourist, I really enjoyed this place.

It’s an outdoor Catholic Church based in a cave that boasts the properties of Lourdes- that the natural springs that seep through the rocks have healing properties.
It’s a very holy place, and it’s very peaceful and tranquil. I went closer to the end time, so around dusk, when all the vendors were slowing down and the heat of the day had lessened. This gave the place a very eerie atmosphere, especially as it darkened through the trees and the candles in the cave around the Virgin Mary were lit. The fountains to taste the healing waters were flowing and the people who go there are less like tourists, and more like pilgrims. Apparently once a month there’s a cross-denominational and interfaith mass held, which really demonstrated to me just how this catholic church can unite through a sense of global peace and spirituality.

I loved it.


gua maria puhsarang.jpg

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Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.


  1. KEEP YOUR EYES OPEN FOR local events and traditional cultural experiences. The Keraton in Yogya holds nightly Wayang Kulit, but we only found out because we flicked on the telly one night and heard about it.
  2. MIND YOUR PRONUNCIATION. What I said: “Wah, dia yang paling genteng”. What I thought I said: “Wah, he’s so handsome!” What I actually said: “Wha, he’s the most roof tiles.”
  3. WATCH THE LOCALS for local handshakes. These generally go according to status. Once you enter a room, you must greet every person in the room ASAP and to people older, you bend, pulling their hand to your forehead. To random acquaintances, handshake then touch your sternum. Some religions may be different in customs.
  4. CROSS THE TRAFFIC with other people in a group or with locals. On a busy main road, they just stick their hand out to point where they’re going and they very slowly walk into the traffic. The traffic will either go around you or slow to a halt.
  5. EAT FISH WITH your fingers. Fiddly bones are small and invisible. Chew and chew overtime just to make sure you haven’t missed any bones.
  6. BEWARE of early transit flights and red eyes. The company is irritable and less than excellent.
  7. IF YOU’RE AUSTRALIAN, register your details at Do your homework on their travel tips.
  8. INDONESIA has an upfront departure tax that gets sprung on you as you check in. 150 000R per person-!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  9. In fact, talk to your travel agent. I believe that the departure tax is included in most airfares these days, however it’s best to double check and ensure you’ve got enough cash on hand if need be.

  10. TRUST YOURSELF with the local language and practice. Jerky analysing of what you’re saying before you say it won’t get you anywhere.




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  1. ALWAYS listen to the people you are dealing with and confirm the final transaction. Apparently the Soekarno-Hatta airport, Jakarta’s international airport has a similar code to one in France. The check-in guy murmured- “So, two tickets to France then,” and we said “Uh-oh.” Always listen attentively.
  2. DON’T stare at anyone- officials, passengers, passers-by, anyone. A stare becomes a challenge and may result in confrontation.
  3. WEAN yourself onto spicy food until you love it. There is no other option.
  4. GET used to the noise level. If you’re from a Western country, you may be feeling a bit confronted by the overwhelming level of noise- traffic beeps, off-tune ukulele buskers, calls to prayer from the local mesjid, vendors yelling at the top of their lungs
  5. IF you have jet-lag, don’t sleep to your time, switch your body clock to the local time. Eye-masks are a blessing.
  6. JANGAN KUATIR. Don’t worry just because things a run differently here. I was panicking at the sight of Jakarta’s traffic mayhem, but the locals have a system and they stick to it. Don’t get in their way.
  7. AEROGUARD or any other Insect Repellent is crucial. I have a line on mosquito bites just around my ankles, just from where my socks met the bottoms of my trousers. Nyamuk are revolting vultures.
  8. WHERE possible, sleep with air-con. Firstly, it will cool you down from the sticky temperatures and, it will also rid the room of flies and mosquitoes.
  9. BE FRIENDLY to the locals.  Everything; from customs, currency and expectations to places to eat during Ramadan and street etiquette, everything is local knowledge.
  10. SAYING “no” to things is very difficult. When being served unwanted food, you say “nanti” (later) or “kenyang”(I’m full) and they won’t get offended that you don’t like it. Alternatively, you can offer then another option. For example, if you’re weary of the milk and dairy products there and you’re served a cup of milk (the condensed, powdered kind with hot-water, unstirred), then you say, “Wah! Thank you very much! While I like milk, I really really prefer hot tea without milk.” In the end, if you’re a guest, they just want to please you.





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TripAdivsor: Kraton, Yogyakarta

Hire a tuk tuk driver for the day, and ask them to take you around Yogya- if give the locals an income and it takes the stress off you trying to navigate your way around with a map. Plus, if you treat them nicely, they can become a tour guide of sorts and take you to the best lunch warungs and give you private tips about the attractions.

The Kraton is no exception. I walked around the Kraton at my own pace, although there is the option to take a palace tour guide. I just walked around and followed the paths myself, listening in on the tour guides whenever I was near one. I got a lot out of it. The Palace Museum preserves everything really well and is quite educational and informative about the Dutch colonisation. It’s a beautiful palace and the museum aspects; costumes, historic images, sculptures and art, make this place very cultural and worth the visit. I really enjoyed myself there, but then again, I like following my nose around museums.



Tip: take the time to have a wander though the palacetown as well. Within the palace walls live all the people who keep the palace and the local economy running. There you will find authentic food and handicrafts.

Tip: watch the local tv when you’re just messing around in your room. In doing so, I stumbled upon advertising for a nightly traditional shadow puppet event (although check with hotel staff to confirm) at the Kraton. It was spectacular, cultural and traditional, and was an accidental highlight of my trip to the Kraton at night.






[Image credit:]

Borobadur, Java.

Borobadur Temple is humbling and breathtaking. Be warned-it’s a tourist trap, as is any place you go sightseeing to. As always, there are ways around.

First and foremost, Borobadur is stunning.  Wear walking shoes, bring water, pause to notice the detail in the rock carvings and the story they tell, and take your time. Many people sprint up the steps, but I  recommend drinking everything in.

At the terminal/bus interchange (the entrance to the UNESCO park), you’ll find a sea of tuktuks and taxis, people willing to drive you around in their pedal-powered sedan, or their motorised chair. Use them. There’s nothing worse than paying an over priced tourist company for a service where the labourer doesnt see the cash.

We arrived in the morning (the earlier the better, to beat the crowds and the heat), and found ourselves a driver. He became our own private chauffeur and attached himself to us for the day, for a price we agreed upon at the start. (Pay upfront if you can). This pleased him, and he took us to a restaurant off the side of the road for breakfast, which we treated him too as well.

Moral of the story: treat your guide well and they’ll take good care of you.

He then drove us to Mendut and Pawon. Both are temples part of the Borobadur complex and easily the highlight of my Borobadur excursion, even though they weren’t the main site. The trees there are as old as the temples themselves, and the sites are less crowded. Mendut and Pawon are a definite MUST SEE.
Beware that at Borobadur, it’s run like a theme park. My Indonesian father gained entry for a quarter of the price of my ticket as a foreigner, but our personal driver told me to flash my student concession card, which they honour, so take whatever concession cards you have for a discount.

Be prepared to be completely harassed by hawkers and people selling trinkets. 1. Don’t buy the first thing you see. 2. Don’t flash your cash. 3. Respect them, the seller may be aggressive, but they’re human.

These are the things I remember from Borobadur. The temple was underwhelming in comparison to the wholistic tourist experience.



Disclaimer: This review was also posted on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.