From Indonesia

12 Asian Destinations for First-time Solo Backpackers

In 2012, I traveled solo for the first time in my life.

I still remember how scared I was before the trip. With only a small backpack, a Neil Gaiman book, a thousand dollars, and a will to get out of my comfort zone, I boarded the plane to Bangkok. As I was checking in, there were no butterflies in my belly, only a great fear that I might find myself unfit for the travel lifestyle and come running back home earlier than planned.

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Gili Islands, Indonesia: Budget Travel Guide 2016

There are three things that I always make sure I experience when I’m on an island getaway, and they all start with S: the sea, the sunset, and loud, scandalous sss.., uhm, singing. Yep. sea, sunsets, and singing. For real.

When it comes to the sea and sunsets, the famed Gili Islands off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia, will not disappoint. This trio is composed of Gili Trawangan, the largest, most populated and the most developed of the three; Gili Meno, middle and the smallest; and Gili Air, the second biggest and closest to mainland Lombok. The band is located off the northwestern coast of Lombok and dots the southern edges of Bali Sea.

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Kawah Putih: Breathless in Bandung, Indonesia

It was so beautiful, I couldn’t breathe. And I mean it literally.

Our vehicle breezed through the forested slope of the crater rim, and I was reminded of how beautiful things are earned. I remember how I reached the last crater lake I set foot on: hours of trek, tens of scratches all over my limbs, a little bit of blood, and a million swearwords thrown into the air. But this is not like the last time. The road was paved, the ride short, and I comfortably seated like a boss. Not that I’m complaining.

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Asian African Carnival 2015 in Bandung, Indonesia

At one point during our walk, I thought I’d be stuck there. Flooding the historic Asia Afrika Boulevard, the crowd was too thick, and I struggled to squeeze myself into whatever little gap I could find to make it through to the next block.

Thankfully, I was not alone. Alfi, an Educator at SMK Telkom Bandung, patiently waited for me on the other side. Alfi is one of the thousands of souls who offered help to make the Asian African Conference a success. It is Bandung’s biggest event, one that locals and tourists alike had been anticipating for years.

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Flores and Sumba, Indonesia: Excerpt from ‘Journeys with the Caterpillar’

Once we were back in Bali, we were brought back to the reality of a giant protected reserve for tourists with infinite stretches of neatly packed boxes of shops with glass facades, mannequins looking out of them with their contemptuous looks. After days with heart shaped toilet buckets and dim hotel lights, I was fumbling with toilet papers and getting blinded with night lights. Flores and Sumba were still deep in my mind, refusing to make way for a new world.

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