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The Glamour of “Budget Travel”

So whats it really like, traveling around Asia on a budget? We are not planning to much of this trip and doing much of it on the fly and this takes an incredible amount of time, flexibility and patience. Along with a very strong sense of humor. We are definitley on a budget so we are always trying to find a balance between being cheap and being stupid, and this is quite difficult at times. So, we thought we might give you a humorous, yet realistic run down of a typical “travel day”.


Note to readers: Somewhere in this past 26 hours of this post, we picked up some souvenirs, of the stomach bug variety… Never a dull moment!

5pm, Sunday. Although we really loved southern Sumatra, we knew it was time to see some new scenery, so we do our research and decide to go to Java, specifically West Java, for the next portion of our stay in Indonesia. We need to get to Bandarlampung (very southern Sumatra) so we can get a flight to Jakarta. We arrange to share a car and driver with two French guys that we have been staying with. Since we took the bus to the area, we are ready to splurge on a car for the way back and splitting it with two other guys saves us some money. We load up, three large board bags strapped to the top and head out for a six hour drive to Bandarlampung.

6:20pm, Sunday. Our driver neglected to fill up on petrol for the drive, so we stop at a gas station. We wait in line for 20 minutes to get gas.

9pm, Sunday. Our driver is hungry, so we stop at a warung that serves Padang style food. We (me, Chris and the two Frenchies) order four orders of chicken and rice. When we pay, they try to totally take us and charge us three times the amount posted on the menu. Thankfully, we have French men with us and they argue to the end while we sit on the sidelines and watch. Somehow we end up paying nothing. For some reason the driver ends up paying our bill, despite the fact we repeatedly offered to pay the correct amount. The true cost of our dinner was an hour of continuous road-rage inflicted on us by our driver. Seriously scary stuff as his already marginal driving skills quickly deteriorated. We hang on and repeatedly ask him to slow down.

11pm, Sunday. We arrive at one of two hotels near the Bandarlampung airport to crash for the night. FULL. Next hotel. FULL. We learn that it is a big Indonesian holiday weekend and we will have a hard time finding a hotel. Okay, so it looks we are sleeping in the airport tonight. We start figuring out how that will pan out. Who gets to lay on the surfboard bag? Do we need to sleep in shifts? This is looking to be a long night. We go to the airport. CLOSED. Plan C. We convince our now very cranky driver that for an additional $20, he needs to drive us another half hour into the city to find a hotel.

Mindnight, Sunday. We get into the heart of Bandarlampung and check with four different hotels before we find one with available rooms. Completely wired from our stressful evening, we try to get some shut eye in our $20 hotel room, complete with deluxe air conditioning, which struggles to beat the heat as we do.

5:30am, Monday. We need to get to the airport early so the Frenchies can make their 8am flight and so we’ll have a prayer of purchasing tickets for that day as well. We strap everything to the top of the cab. The taxi ride to the airport is fairly uneventful, but it starts raining cats and dogs.

6am, Monday. We buy plane tickets to Jakarta for a 9:30am flight for $120 bucks. Imagine doing this in the US. First, it would be at least $1000. Second, they would be sure that your are a terrorist. We arrange with Germain (French dude) to share a car when we leave the Jakarta airport for West Java. This means he will have to hang out in the Jakarta airport for two hours, but he is game, so we plan on meeting him then.

8am, Monday. Winner breakfast at the airport cafe. Two candy bars and a cup of coffee.

10:30am, Monday. Our flight is delayed 1 hour. It also begins to rain buckets. Torrential rain like we’ve never seen before. We wonder, can planes even get off the ground in this?

11:30am Monday. We touch down in Jakarta. As we leave the airport, we are jumped on by taxi drivers, like white on rice. Germain is nowhere to be found and we suspect he ditched us after our flight was delayed for so long. Plan B. Chris’s luggage is completely soaked and is already starting to grow mildew from being left out in the rain.

12:30pm, Monday. We hang out, get money, eat some very delicious A&W chicken sandwiches (yeah, we are hungry) and assess our options for getting to West Java. A taxi is too expensive ($75), so bus it is. Here we go again.

1:30pm, Monday. We sit and sweat outside of the airport. The bus is an hour late, but it is nice, air conditioned and devoid of thumping Indo techno music.

3:00pm, Monday. A cacophony of “Hello mister, hello mister, where you going? Taxi, taxi, taxi!” assaults us as we get off the bus in Bogor. Complete feeding frenzy of people wanting to take us somewhere. We opt for a break and tour the nearby botanical gardens. But… We need to stash our stuff.

3:30pm Monday. We find a police station to leave our luggage and board bag for an hour while we tour the botanical garden. Of course, the Indonesian police are ecstatic about taking care of our belongings, so we leave our things and walk to the garden.

4:30pm Monday. We walk a portion of the very lovely gardens and, minus a few “hello misters”, we find some peace and quiet for a few minutes. We take a horse buggy ride back to the police station to retrieve our stuff for $5. We try to negotiate the price, but the kid driving the buggy doesn’t budge. It’s a total rip off, but indeed a novelty, weaving through crazy traffic in a rickety buggy.

5:00pm Monday. We procur yet another taxi to take us to Cibodas, which sits on the flanks of an active volcano and national park. We negotiate the ride for $22, but we start to feel guilty after 2 hours of driving. The traffic is horrendous. Should we pay more? We are exhausted and hungry. We are at 24 hours of travel time.

6:30pm, Monday. Our taxi gets lost trying to find the guesthouse that we requested. It is dark, we are up in the hills, and we have no idea where we are. We check out one place to stay, and it’s no good, so we convince the taxi to take us to another hotel. Taxi driver, not happy. We will clearly pay the price.

7:30pm, Monday. Starving and delirious, we find another hotel for $27. Definitely over our budget, but at this point we are broken. We fork out extra for the taxi driver since he is not too happy that we made him go so far.

8:00pm, Monday. 26 hours later. Bintangs and $5 dinner. Things are looking up.

9:00pm Monday. We think to ourselves… Aren’t we lucky to be doing what we are doing. Wow, another great day in Indonesia!






5 thoughts on “The Glamour of “Budget Travel”

  1. Ahhh… traveling in Asia. Thank you for the reminder. I would trade with you in a second to be there dealing with those travel days… But maybe not the bus ride…

    Posted by Melanie | May 24, 2012, 10:17 pm
  2. Glad you guys and not me!

    Posted by Roger Knox | May 24, 2012, 10:07 pm
  3. Gee for a while there I thought you might be whining!

    Posted by Anonymous | May 24, 2012, 1:54 pm
  4. I am exhausted just reading this!

    Posted by Anonymous | May 24, 2012, 8:15 am

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