Visiting Indonesian Sumatra had always been on our bucket list. We wanted to see orangutans in the wild, whom you can spot even on a one-day trek to Gunung Leuser National Park which you can start in Bukit Lawang. While we generally prefer going trekking on our own, doing it here in the jungle without a guide would be unreasonable knowing that you are to deal with wildlife and you can expect an aggressive behaviour from animals that you may spot on your way. We opted for a 2-day trekking including sleeping in a tent, food, 2 guides and a tube rafting back to Bukit Lawang. We met 5 orangutans on the first day, some of the guys from our group saw one more creature swinging from a tree to a tree somewhere in the distance when they woke up early in the morning on the next day:) It’s easy to fall in love with orangutans at first sight;) You can find detailed information on our trekking and myriads of photos in the below post.
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As promised , the following post is devoted to basic Indonesian vocabulary that will be of great use for you if you want to explore West Papua on your own without a guide (the guide could cost you up to 500EUR for 4 days only) and go trekking to villages of Baliem Valley. Bahasa Indonesia is really one of the easiest Asian languages. There are no declinations, it sounds very simple as if there was no grammar at all, and the pronunciation shouldn’t be a problem if you know a little bit of Spanish (for us, Polish people – it’s also very easy).
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Being in West Papua and not experiencing a direct contact with local people or tribes living in the remote villages somewhere in the jungle or mountains would mean not being there at all .. we were anticipating this for a long time and our dream finally came true: we managed to reach Papuan villages and meet local people. We did it without a guide, porters and without a non-essential travel permit, thanks to which we saved about 400-500EUR! We followed the trail through the picturesque mountainous Baliem Valley starting our trekking in Kurima heading to Hitugi, and continuing to Userem, Yuarima until we reached Yogosem, a village situated at an altitude of 2500m above the sea level. This would not be possible without learning the basics of Bahasia Indonesia (without learning the language you cannot communicate with local people and will not get to know their culture well), plus our determination and stamina turned out to be be paramount in that experience too 🙂 (the most strenuous trekking path from Yuarima to Yogosem took us about 3.5 hours and all the time we were to trek the steep trail up, and at the end of it we literally had the opportunity to stand in the clouds :)). We didn’t meet any white people on the way during our 4 day trekking and in fact we felt ourselves to be the main attraction for the locals, especially in Yogosem. In this post you will be provided with more details regarding our 4-day adventure including the info how we got to Kurima, and where we slept and ate with locals for 7-8 EUR per day per person! 🙂
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Travelling usually provides us with many positive emotions and experiences, especially when we get to know different and interesting cultures and extremely friendly people. This time we are in North Sulawesi, an Indonesian Island, near Manado, Tomohon and Tondano, a region originally inhabited by the ethnic group of people called ‘Minahasa’, and even though we are dealing with really friendly people here (you can say even: ‘’much more friendly than ever before’’ ), their eating habits and culture can scare off many Europeans, Americans or Australians. At first glance, everything seemed normal from our perspective, there are lots of Christian churches prevailing over mosques; besides, you can buy here stronger alcohol such as vodka, whiskey, which was impossible to get in Lombok (a typically Muslim Island); local people rejoice when they see a white man in the street as it’s a rare view for them, they will accost you and start a small talk and it doesn’t matter they don’t speak English, and the atmosphere seems so pleasant and relaxing until … you visit Pasar Tomohon (a local market in Tomohon) and get to know the true reality and tastes of these people .. In addition to the standard food in any local market such as: vegetables, fruits, fish, you will also see dog, monkey or bat meat. There will be rats and pythons on the stalls and you will come across cats and dogs locked in cages, which in a few hours are going for slaughter … and it takes place there in the market on the eyes of other people, as if it was nothing extraordinary. Sharing with you more details regarding this harrowing subject below, but please… note that this is not an entry for everyone as some of the pictures are really drastic.
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