The locals are making me really dislike lots of the western tourists. Bit of a generalisation but Indonesians are so sweet and polite, whereas I’ve yet to see a western tourist say thank you when I hold the door for them. I think of all countries I’ve been to Indonesians are my favourite and they probably speak some of the best English in all of South East Asia. The locals we’ve met are all so accommodating and happy and everyone just wants to say hello and ask where we’re from. Although apparently being from london must mean I’m cockney! Even those trying to sell you something or ask you into their restaurant/spa take ‘no thanks’ very easily. So far I’ve never felt pressured, threatened or in danger being in this country. I’m sure there are bad guys out there, there always will be but apart from being asked ‘taxi? Maybe tomorrow?’ far too often, we’ve met some lovely locals who are interested to learn about us, help us and even understand some good banter! They struggle a little with customer service, which can often be slow, but I think that’s because they genuinely don’t want to bother you.
You learn in Bali very quickly that time doesn’t really mean anything, 11am could mean anytime between 11am and 1pm, but be there half an hour before because you never know! It’s a very relaxed lifestyle and they seem to eat and sleep a lot and for many of them there days are spent sitting with friends or having a snooze outside their shop waiting for a sale or someone to finally say yes they need a taxi.
Being a third world country there are always going to be some massive differences in how they live as it’s much more rustic and rural. In the Gili’s in particular there were chickens, goats and cows just roaming free but then we’ve also seen vans carrying chicks painted in bright colours in very tight cages. One guy we spoke to also didn’t understand why we don’t watch cock fighting in England. And while we’ve seen areas where they seem much poorer, there’s less signs of extreme poverty that I saw travelling Vietnam and Cambodia.
Typically health and safety standards are questionable, we’ve seen lots of dodgy building work and scaffolding that would never be allowed in England! You have to really keep your eye on where you’re walking too as there’s lots of cracks and holes in the pavement. There’s been a lot of trips along the way but I’ve only fully fallen over once, which for someone as clumsy as I am, that’s something to be proud of.
I’ve yet to see any road rage yet either, although everyone pretty much just drives wherever and however they want with just a beep of the horn to warn those around. Most people mainly travel by motor bike or scooter though so there’s a lot of weaving going on! And they won’t travel alone on their bikes, you’ll often see a couple with a toddler balancing in the middle with the dog. Likewise they seem to be very strong and women will often walk past with extremely heavy object casually balanced on their heads with no effort at all. If only we could carry out backpacks so easily!
A blog about the people wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the pets. Even cats and dogs here seem more friendly then in other countries. For some reasons the cats surrounding me at dinner don’t bother me as much as usual. Steph became a little obsessed with all the cats on the Gili’s, taking photos of any animal she laid her eyes on.
We have so many adorable pictures of the locals to choose from so here’s just a selection…
I also can’t ignore talking about the amazing food we’ve had. Indonesian food is possibly my favourite South East Asia cuisine, although it’s a close one with Thai. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of rice so I couldn’t eat it every night of the week. The most common dish to eat is Nasi Goreng, which is fried rice with vegetables, chicken and a fried egg on top. It’s often served with prawn crackers (Thai style rather than Chinese) and chicken sate with peanut sauce. There’s lots of variations though and often they come with seafood too. There’s also Mie Goreng which is the same dish just with noodles instead of rice. The other dish I’ve eaten a lot of is Chicken Sate with peanut sauce and rice. Beef rendang is another popular one on the menu which I’ve always thought was Malaysian but maybe it’s a dish they share. Also shredded chicken which I’ve made the mistake of ordering twice, it’s the cheap bits of chicken cooked in lots of spices and too much fish sauce. Not a fan of this dish.
In Gili T we often had dinner at the night market where you pick whatever you fancied, buffet style, and it was priced based on what you had. While we were in Gili Air we did a cooking class which was so much fun. We made :
- Gado Gado – fried veg
- Peanut sauce – to go with our veg. We were particularly proud of this, super delicious
- Mie Goreng – not normally a noodle fan but I rather enjoyed this
- Chicken Yellow Curry – far too spicy for my liking but Steph enjoyed it
- Chicken Taliwang – a sort of marinated chicken. I really enjoyed this and would definitely make again
- Kelapon – a desert with a weird squishy texture. Strange at first but absolutely loved them!
The class was so much fun, recipes were pretty easy to make and the chef in charge was very sweet and funny. We met two very interesting women too that live on boats, was very jealous hearing about their lifestyle! Overall very enjoyable, and lots of good food.