One year ago today I embarked on my newest RTW adventure — a four-year 80-country land travel trek from Indonesia to Portugal through every single country in between, including all seven -stans.
Alas, it is with a bit of surprise that today I am writing to you from none other than Indonesia…still. Although I keep leaving and exploring other new countries, I always seem to return here.
Well, I’ve fallen in love with Indonesia. The country is beautiful, the culture is fantastic, the food varies with every region/island, and there are more amazing places than anyone can ever hope to visit in a single lifetime.
From virgin beaches where I can skinny dip to my heart’s content like Pantai Sundak to impressive temples like Borobudur and breathtaking mountains like Rinjani, I’m having the time of my life exploring this country. Plus I’ve learned to speak and even started blogging in Bahasa Indonesia, the local language, so now exploring is even more fun because I can chat with the people who do not speak a word of English.
Additionally, no country has ever treated me so well. Somehow I have managed to get in with the “in crowd” here. I’ve done a film, a television appearance, even been featured in a magazine highlighting my travel exploits. Some of my best friends here are well-known Indonesian travelers, writers, bloggers and actresses.
And the opportunities keep rolling in. I’ve been offered two different modeling jobs, one in Jakarta and another brief shoot in Solo.
— ⌠ Derek4Real ⌡ (@the_HoliDaze) April 30, 2014
Only Downside? Visa Issues!
My visa for Indonesia expired over the weekend. I planned to go to kantor imigrasi and extend it, however they were closed on the weekend, I was in transit on Monday, and it just so happens that yesterday was a holiday. Great. That means I have once again over-stayed my visa here and now must pay a fine. I’ve had six Indonesian visas this last year and I have overstayed five of them. Oops. For the amount of fines that I have paid the Indonesian government I could have nearly purchased a new laptop — something I sorely need as I have a feeling this one is about to crap out on me.
[ UPDATE ] I paused while writing this to go to immigration, a visit that when horribly awry when I was denied my extension and ordered to leave the country tonight. I’m not. But after sending out a negative tweet about my experiences I have spent the last six hours in a tweetwar with local Indonesians who think I am upset with Indonesia when in fact I was upset because I was being told to leave the country I love.
What About Your RTW Trek? Where To Next?
That is a good question. Although I am continuing to visit new countries, I’ve long since abandoned the land travel only aspect of this trek. Land travel is great for one-way adventures but not when going back and forth. Too time-consuming.
As Indonesian visas are only allowed to be extended once, for another thirty days, at the end of June I will be headed to Laos. (I had planned to visit there last year but had to return to Indonesia for a television appearance.) As of now I still plan on getting my extension, albeit from a different immigration center in a different city. We’ll see how that goes — fingers crossed!
Cold Hard Numbers
|Countries Visited: 8 (10%)
Trips To Indonesia: 4
Visa Runs To Singapore: 3
|Toothbrush Count: 21
Airplane Flights: 47
Train Rides: 22
|Bus Trips: 18
Boats/Ferries Taken: 7
Distance By Motorcycle: 9,000+km
|Flat Tires: 5 — one in Vietnam and four in Indonesia (all while passing through the same city)|
— ⌠ Derek4Real ⌡ (@the_HoliDaze) May 24, 2014
And yes, I got the fourth flat about ten minutes after that tweet :/
Worst Experience So Far?
Besides today? Getting sick in Vietnam. Very sick. I was hit with a stomach bug after accidentally swallowing some cave water that left me unable to eat for a week. At the same time I also came down with a nasty respiratory infection that got so bad I had to visit a hospital. The doctor gave me a bag full of medicine and a 13-pill/day regiment.
This put me far behind on my trip from Hanoi to Saigon by motorcycle. By the time I was well enough to get back on the road I had only 24hrs to get out of the country and nearly 1,000km left to go, far too much to travel in such a short time. I had to leave my motorcycle with a local and take a 20hr train ride to the airport, instead of selling it in Saigon as planned to get my investment back.
So, if anyone is planning on visiting Vietnam soon then let me know — you can travel half the country by train/bus and then pick up my motorcycle to travel the rest of the way, if you want.
I have about a dozen posts in draft form at various stages of completion. Because I’ve been so busy I haven’t had the opportunity to finish them. However I plan on being online about 18/hrs a day for the next month, playing catch-up.
Vietnam: Casual Communism
Why Vietnam Gets A Bad Rap From Tourists
Your Guide To The Phong Nha Caves Of Vietnam
|Motorcycling Vietnam: A How-To Guide
Nusa Penida: Indonesia’s Hidden Paradise (Shhhh!)
The Best New Travel Blogs Of May 2014
|Travel Blogging Advice: How To Understand, Maximize And Embrace Google+|
I hope to have all these posts and others finished within the next 2-3 weeks so be sure to subscribe to the HoliDaze Weekly Update Or, if you prefer less emails, join the HoliDaze Monthly Newsletter. Thanks!