Indonesia: Sumatra and Jakarta


Trip cost:

Flight: $30 One Way from Jakarta to Sumatra with Lion Air

Accommodation: 400,000 RP ($30) per night

I got to Padang Airport in Sumatra from Jakarta with an easy flight that took 1 hour and 15 minutes. I was picked up by lovely Yuli who made a living by making airport transports for a couple of hotels including Villa Sofia where I was headed as the last stop of my Indonesia trip.
Before leaving the airport, I realized that had lost my ATM card in Jakarta. You need to keep in mind that some of the ATMs in Indonesia work in a way that you need to take your card from the machine after getting your money, which totally slipped my mind. Luckily I had brought my Chase ATM card as a backup (which charged $5 for each transaction as opposed to my lost brand new Capital One card that charged $0 for foreign transactions).

Fishing boats
Fishing boats near one of the villages we passed on the way to the Villa
You get to Villa Sofia with a short boat ride after a 2 hr drive from the airport and here Yuli is assisting Jonathan with it
You get to Villa Sofia with a short boat ride after a 2 hr drive from the airport and here Yuli is assisting Jonathan with it

Perched on the side of a mountain overlooking the ocean and other smaller green islands and surrounded by palms and fruit trees, Villa Sofia was an amazing spot to escape from the human and car crowd I had just left behind.

The view is so calm and peachy after every sunset

I was the only guest there for 2 days until Matt, an Australian surfer joined after a surfing trip at the Mentawai Islands. For the four days I stayed there, I woke up with various bird, gecko and monkey noises in the morning, practiced yoga and meditation every day in one of the several beautiful spots in the villa and chilled all day in the hammock or lounge chairs reading books and writing my journal. It was a great preparation before the silent meditation camp I was going to head in Thailand in a week.

IMG_4951-0Jonathan, the owner of the place is an expat from California and he was a great host. He made me feel home along with his young staff who fed my with yummy padang food and gave me little tours of the village including rice harvesting with the locals one day.  He told me he had first started going to Indonesia for surfing as many people did from the west but mostly from Australia. After discovering the beauty of this country and its people, he learned Indonesian and decided to open a place to share his world with everyone. I was very impressed by all the little beautiful details from  the architecture to the decoration of the villa which had Jonathan’s hand. Big kudos to him!

If you decide to visit Villa Sofia, the dorm room cost 400,000 RP ($30) and private room 800,000 RP per night and it includes 3 hearty Indonesian meals and a fruit juice in the afternoon. Other things to do besides super relaxing, you can use the villa’s kayak to go to the islands nearby or hike to the waterfall.

Bronson, the security guard who tirelessly protected us from the monkeys :)
Bronson, our security guard who tirelessly protected us from the monkeys 🙂 This is the meditation, yoga and reiki platform I used during my stay with Bronson’s companionship.

I heard that there was a couple on their honeymoon before I got there. This would be a nice place to stay alone with your sweetheart and talk about eeeeeverything you don’t know about each other.

Harvesting rice with the local women was so much fun until I saw a leech crawling on my leg, eek! They were so sweet, they offered me a coconut fresh from the palm tree and they laughed at everything I said. I guess I am hired!

The transportation from the airport was close to 2 hours and it cost me 500,000 RP (one way) and it was more than the plane ticket from Jakarta to Sumatra. You could reduce this rate by traveling with multiple people.


Flight: $32 One Way from Jogjakarta to Jakarta with Lion Air

Accommodation: $20 per night

While it wasn’t in my initial itinerary, I ended up in this crazy capital city so-called the Paris of Asia since I wanted to apply for a 3 month Thai visa at the consulate. After the consulate requested so many docs and I didn’t have time to provide them in my only morning in Jakarta, I was pretty bummed to be stuck in this city. Everyone I met there were there for a day or two and repeated the same things about the insane traffic and lack of things to do around the city.

The area between Kuta and Chinatown from inside a tuk tuk
The area between Kuta and Chinatown from inside a tuk tuk

Things you can expect to see in Jakarta are:

Skyscrapers (I have a feeling there were more than NYC), tons of cars, motorcycles, air pollution, extravagant hotels, homeless people, mega shopping centers, extreme poverty, shanty towns hidden behind the tall buildings…

I sadly witnessed a visible economic gap between the rich and poor within a few of hours I spent in this mega city. Like so many people told me on the way: if you are traveling, especially alone, do not bother going to Jakarta. The reason for that, there are no rights for pedestrians, you risk your life every time you want to cross a street and end up running like a chicken without a head among cars and motorcycles to just cross a simple street. It’s super HOT and there’s not much to do really. The old town area is one of the poor neighborhoods and I didn’t feel secure walking around by myself even in day light.

Riding these bikes while wearing these colorful hats was a popular activity among young girls in Fatahillah Square

As per internet’s suggestion, I decided to visit Kota, the old Dutch part of the city and sat at the infamous historic Cafe Betavia for lunch. Sadly this colonial heritage was not preserved as well as it has been in the likes of other Southeast Asian colonial cities and there were only a few remaining wooden-shuttered buildings left today.

Cafe Betavia was pricey for Indonesia (close to NYC prices) but it was a good place overlooking the Fatahillah Square to relax in AC which was very much needed. The menu consisted of a large selection of delicious drinks and tasty Indonesian and Western foods. The highlight of this cafe was its lovely decor which takes you back to that Dutch-Indonesia era.

Cafe Betavia
Cafe Betavia

In Jakarta, I stayed at The Packer Lodge for $20/night in a private room with AC. It was fun to hang out in the common areas and chat with mostly German and French travelers. Wifi worked very good in all of the 3 floors and the small roof garden was cute.

Tip: When you see a nice thing in Indonesia, do not hesitate to buy it. Just do it there since you don’t find the same thing for cheaper in other cities. Every place has its own products. Such as batic products in Jogja, cool bags and accessories in Bali, etc. I regret that I didn’t buy some cute things I had seen in Bali..oh well life goes on 🙂


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