Yeti Budgets: The Month of May

Gonna make a record in the month of May
In the month of May, in the month of May
Gonna make a record in the month of May
When the violent wind blows the wires away.

Lombok Beach Gili Sunset Ubud Statue

28 dollars a day.

Indonesia is, by developed country standards, still a cheap country.  You can find simple meals (especially away from Bali and over-touristed places) for around a dollar and, if you look hard, a big room for 10 dollars isn’t impossible to find.  Fruit juices are a dollar or two and street food (hard to find in Ubud) is still rather cheap.

So for Australians, Kiwis, Danes, and Canadians here for 10-20 days, it can be a country of great value.  But for those on the long-term backpacker circuit, the prices are out of whack compared to its neighbors–Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Borneo, etc.

For the month of May, I spent 869 dollars.  That was me at my budget best–long hours of searching for cheap accommodation, walking an extra 15 minutes to save 20 cents on my bottles of water, eating only two meals a day, and not really doing any “activities.” I haven’t rented a scooter (except for one day, but most people here rent them for weeks or months) or even a bike, spending most of my days walking, swimming, and writing.  I also spent 20 days in one city to save myself from expensive transportation costs. And I chose not to do things like visit the Komodo dragons or go snorkeling with manta rays, because that could have added a hundred dollars or more to my costs.

Unlike April in Nepal, where I bought a lot of “optional” things, the 869 dollars I spent in Indonesia went only to food, accommodation, and transport.  The exceptions are a 10 dollar snorkeling tour, a 2 dollar pair of swim trunks, and 5 dollars on a scooter for a day with snorkel gear included. I have had a few beers as well but on average spend will under 10 dollars a week on booze.

Still, 28 dollars a day is as much as I have spent in any country in Asia.  Don’t get me wrong: the little bits I’ve seen, two of the 17000 islands, have been great. The comparatively high prices of Indonesia, especially for solo travelers, have left me with mixed feelings.  There are a lot of things to love about it, but considering you could have a similar experience in many other countries for less frustration and less money, it will be a country I remain ambivalent about.  That said, I would like to come back with a buddy some day and with high costs split, think it would be a lot of fun to explore further.

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