Indonesia 2023

After India I moved to Saigon for a month, to recover from India haha.

A few days later, in the beginning of 2023, my sister and her boyfriend came to visit me and SEA for 3 months, after meeting Bangkok we flew to Denpasar, not that I absolutely wanted them to see Bali but it’s an easy entry point.

All my camera/drone photos from my time there can be found here.

I was working full-time at this point but I took a week off to visit Sumba with them. This was my second time visiting, you can see the photos from the first visit here, it was quite different, the rainy season and dry season can make a lot of things change.

The first stop was a return to the lagoon where I was stunned by a (maybe a few) jellyfish in 2021, you can read about it here.

Waikuri Lagoon


And yes I swam in it again! But I stayed away from the jellyfish area. Still, no signs telling visitors to be careful.

The lagoon from a further point of view:


This time I was able to go to another spot nearby, the beautiful Pantai Mandorak!

The drone view is mindblowing!

Beautiful coastline:

On the rocky coast, there were a few people chipping away at the rocks, they told and showed us what they were doing. They take a piece of rock with greenery on it and sell it, almost as a Bonzai-style plant. It takes them 1-2 hours to come off with something they’ll sell for ~4$USD.

He was a little camera-shy.

Opposite to that these beautiful rocks covered in moss were quite photogenic.

The slow life.

We then headed back to town where we stayed for the night, the next morning we began the road trip across the island.

The ride for the week:

We then departed Tambolaka and headed to Pero Beach.

Acquired some rambutans on the road, delicious!

Not much going on at Pero Beach, just a small fisherman village with friendly kids. They had a villa or two but it seemed abandoned. Anyway, the plan was to camp, and not there, this was only the first stop.

The next stop and main event of the day was the visit to Kampung Adat Ratenggaro, a traditional Sumba village. This was all new to me as last time I just drove away from the lagoon straight to a place to sleep and had to skip all this because of the jellyfish incident.

Sumba is known for there special houses.

You can read about it here.

The beach right in front of the village isn’t bad either!

The drone gives a better idea of the beauty of this village:

Inside the homes, where you can see the 4 pillars, the main support for the house.

The people here were nice but they are already used to tourism. Sumba is very wild but there are also a few spots where tours bring all the tourists to, doing that sadly changes the whole vibe, even if you self-drive and you get there with no one around, they know what they can use you for. $$$. Entrance fee, then the photo fee, then the drone fee, then they ask for money to visit a home, even an empty one…

Anyway, we had lunch by the beach and drove off into the wild to find a camping location.

I had a favorite point on my google maps to a location called, Pantai Waibuku.

Sadly this was one of the worse experiences I’ve ever had in Indonesia.

On the way there, there was a very small village, where we tried to speak with locals, asking them if it was ok if we stay the night by the beach, they were all very friendly and were happy to see us there and enjoy the area.

After parking the car, and looking around for a few minutes, a lot of the villagers came to our parking spot, curious, and friendly. Until a new face showed up.

That specific man came in quite aggressively, shouting, waving his machete around, and then getting in our faces, asking for cigarettes, trying to look in the car, shouting, and swiping the machete at the long grass around us. Very strange vibes.

The other people were laughing but it didn’t feel genuine, more like laughing with a mix of fear and shame. An older man was looking at us with a look that was telling us to go because he couldn’t predict what that man would do.

He really deserved a solid punch (or more) on the nose but you can’t do that when you’re in a situation like that in a foreign country, especially when you don’t speak the language. You can never win against locals in places like that. Better just deal with it peacefully.

After a few minutes, we decided to leave. He was probably on some type of drug high.

Avoid this place if you are in the area, it probably doesn’t happen all the time but there are so many other places to see in Sumba, it’s not worth the risk.

We then drove another 30 minutes to Pantai Mbawana.

The first night of camping was a wild one! Heavy rains and wind were the themes of the night. Spot the campsite in this image!

We survived the night and drove off to the next stop, it was cloudy but Pantai Watu Bella was still beautiful. Also going there on the weekend isn’t the best idea, locals come and have picnics there, making it quite busy. Try to go on a weekday if possible.

On the way to Pantai Watu Bella, the beautiful Sumba landscapes…

We could see the rain coming from the sea, we had to leave. Camping wasn’t an option for that night. We went to the next village, luckily there are a few surf camps around there and we had an amazing stay at Sumba Sunset surf camp.

It rained until the next morning but we had lots of fun with the owner and his family, it was low season for surf so we were the only guests there but it was one of the great evenings in Sumba!

The next morning we had a dilemma, the day before the brakes on the truck had an issue, we had maybe 30% of braking left. Sumba is very unpopulated and very few resources are available to fix cars out there. So the only option we had was to drive all the way to the east of the island with 30% brakes or wait for the owner to get another truck returned and come switch it, both were time wasting options but we decided to drive east to waste as little time as possible.

Before heading east, missing a few attractions on the way, we did stop at this amazing waterfall in the middle of the rice fields. Air Terjun Bokota Katura.

Beautiful river going through the fields…

We then drove all the way east, getting there after dark. But we made it safely, the next day we switched the truck, we got rid of some of the camping gear because the truck was much smaller, and we had to sit on a bean bag in the rear, but hey we had brakes! And off we went to the next spot, Air Terjun Tanggedu.

On the way there we drove across the Savana Puru Kambera.

The vegetation was so green compared to when I was there in the dry season.

Ooops the tent wants to leave the truck!

The waterfall was also looking very different in the rainy season, less green, and more brown. It’s like colors switched positions during different seasons.

But the vegetation around there, so green.

Back in the Savana the famous Sumba “wild” horses…

We headed down the road to the second camping spot!

This was only the second time we were able to camp during the week, and the last one. Oops!

The next day we drove into the famous “Bukits”, Bukit is the Indonesian word for Hills. Sumba is famous for its “hilly” landscapes, especially east of the island. Again the greenery was impressive.

Oh yeah, the road to get to this spot was quite wild, can’t imagine what it’s like when it’s high season.

This spot is called Bukit Ndapayami, definitely worth the trip even if the road is a bit sketchy!

That evening we stayed at the hotel, it was raining hard. The next morning we drove south to try to get to one of the famous attractions in Sumba, Air Terjun Wai Marang. The lagoon/waterfall. I’ve been there before, it was amazing. But again the rain got us! Locals told us not to go down the path, about 40 minutes walk because the rain made it dangerous, too slippery. We waited to see if the rain would stop. It didn’t

We kept driving down south… basically until the end of the road. We ended up at Sumba Adventure Resort in Wulla Waijelu.

It’s a room but you are basically sleeping outdoors! Very natural resort. It was a nice place but the weather was not good.

The next day we drove back, hoping maybe to go back to the waterfall but, guess what it was raining…. stopped at the dancing trees, the sea level was too high!

At this point, we were done with this trip. We just went to a hotel in Waingapu and waited for the next day to leave while the rain kept coming.

Sometimes you win sometimes you lose. Traveling during the rainy season is a gamble for sure, but I didn’t expect it to be so bad, I was in Indonesia for the previous 2 rainy seasons and I don’t remember seeing such a wet week. Oh well. On to the next one.

Flew out of Sumba and to Java we went. First stop Yogyakarta!

I was back to work and just had time to explore during the weekends. I was in Yogyakarta before but didn’t go to Merapi volcano for some reason.

This time we stayed near Merapi on the outskirts of the city and it was great. Book a room at Angler Homestay & Joglo if you ever are in the area.

Merapi volcano, wow. So impressive. A few weeks later it had a few big eruptions.

Local activities… riding a jeep in the water with the volcano as a backdrop.

Driving around the area was beautiful.

The following weekend we met in Malang, rented dirt bikes with Moto East Java, and rode to Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park.

On the way there we took a bit of a wrong turn. You can see more on my Instagram stories.

Beautiful national park.

We got lucky with the weather that day, it was very busy because it was a national holiday but the sunrise was beautiful and it wasn’t raining!

We witnessed an eruption from the Semeru volcano, another very active volcano on the island of Java.

So much beauty in this area.

We went down with the dirt bikes for some fun in the sand and for photos.

Bromo is the crater where you see the smoke coming out. You can walk on the edge of the crater. Another impressive thing there is the noise coming from the bottom of the crater. Check out my Instagram stories to hear the sound of the volcano.

Well worth going up the many stairs to reach it!

We then wait for the area on the other side of Semeru to visit the waterfalls, I could only stay for a day, I had to go back to work. I only had time to visit Air Terjun Kabut Pelangi. There are a lot of other waterfalls to see around there.

This was it for me exploring Indonesia for this time. It was more of a guiding mission but it was fun to go back to places I was before and show it off to my sister and her boyfriend. Even though the weather wasn’t always on our side, we had a great time.