Last day in Medan was really relaxed, went shopping with Ines and bought myself a batik (traditional gorgeous clothing). It was the first piece of clothing I've bought so far, can you believe it? Though I don't get why my backpack weighs 10,5 kilos now, it was 5,7 when I left Finland and I haven't really bought anything. Anyway, rest of the night we hung out with everybody, had dinner, etc. This morning I took a plane here in Batam, and my ferry for Singapore parts at 7.20pm. I've done nothing much but jalan-jalan (wondering around), I'm too lazy. (So sorry, nothing much to say about Batam itself)
Since it's my last moments in Indonesia, I'm gonna appreciate it by sharing a list of random facts about the country and culture:
-People eat by hand here. It's very important to use your right hand too and let your left hand nowhere near the food since it's considered the "dirty hand" in the muslim culture. For bulehs, there is of course cutlery available, but it's normally a fork and a spoon. You rarely see a knife (and you never see chopsticks unless it's Japanese). The funny thing is that if you order a whole grilled fish, they will bring you a spoon, but if you order a toast, they will bring you a knife.
-It's quite easy to pick up some basic phrases in Indonesian, and the rest will figure itself out. Even if most people don't speak more than two words of English, once they spot a buleh in distress (or even if you're not in distress) they come to help in packs and some of them will eventually understand you.
-Most food is fried (=goreng), usually rice or noodles (=nasi/mie) and served with chili or currysauce. My personal favourite is nasi ikan: plain rice with grilled fish in chilisauce. For the desserts I most prefer pisang goreng, fried banana. For the drinks I'll miss avocado juice the most (sounds a bit off but it's really good!)
-Every time I visited sights I would hear "the temple looked like this and this before that earthquake" or "there were these and these kind of houses here before that and that tsunami". And there are quite a lot of floods at this time of a year.
-Usually the buses (excluding innercity buses) only leave when they're full, so after a while when you climb into an empty bus you go from "yay it's empty, I get to pick my seat" to "oh crap it's empty so probably it's not gonna leave for another 2 hours"
-The streets are in a terrible condition, especialy in Sumatra. Sleep if you manage to, especially in nightbuses it's not very comforting to actualy pay attention to the road and notice how recklessly the driver is going. And btw Sumatra is so worth all the inconvenience!
-The cheapest way to travel in a city are the angkot citybuses, which are more like minivans with some sort of a bench in the back. It costs 1000-4000 rupiahs (8,5-35 cents). Then there are the motortaxis, ojeks, bigger versions, becacks (like a tuk-tuk), and of course regular taxis. From the latter options I prefer ojeks, they're fast and cheap if you bargain and if it's not pouring rain of traffic hour.
-The cheapest places to eat are the foodstalls you can find in every corner. A bit shaggy and a very hot place to eat during the day but the food is good and rarely tops 10 000rp (85 cents).
-The people are unbelievably nice and helpful. And believe it or not, some of them honestly don't have an agenda. For example today I got a ride to the airport at 5.30am by a guy I barely know from the campus! And I know he had no agenda:) I have to say though, I'm really tired of constantly creating a stir where ever I go. I'm tired of everyone paying so much attention on me, staring at me, shouting at me, smalltalking to me, wanting to take pictures with me or of me.. Singapore will be a good rest for my nerves, I'll be left alone since there are lots of white people there:D
-I didn't meet other backpackers much at all, but no matter. I love that I got to know quite a few locals and learn a lot from them. And I know I'll meet so many travelers when I reach the most common backpacker route: Thailand-Laos-Cambodia. I'll probably get sick of them:p
-My high points of Indonesia are definitely located in the nature: the jungletreks, swimming in lakes, rivers, oceans, seeing wildlife, all the adrenalin kicks and of course the company of very genuine people. I'm really not into the city life here, though it can be exciting for a while. The air in cities is very polluted so the hot air feels lots more agonizing, the traffic crazy, it's noisy everywhere and everybody constantly botheres me. Especially if I'm alone.
-I know I had something else to add but I forgot it:D
I gotta say I really really enjoy traveling alone. It's the ultimate freedom! And I feel like I'm learning so much about myself and becoming a stronger person with every new encounter. I am a very social person though so I do enjoy company, but in the end I love that it's me and only me who decides what the next adventure is. I'm a bit scared that I'll start to love my new found level of independence a bit too much, become a loner, and start finding it too easy to constantly leave people behind. Then again I feel more and more strongly every day that fear is a really useless emotion:p
Okay then I guess that's all for Indonesia (my gosh do I miss the jungle!!), next up is the strange but oh so lovely metropoly we call Singapura, the lion city<3