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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Travel budget and smart during public holidays. Just go out of the crowd

Suaya village, in-rock grave, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, East Indonesia, Rantepao
Each family can feature only one relative - the most respectful
In Rock Graves, Suaya village
Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, East Indonesia

Most of my friends are very surprised to hear how much I travel, but they are more amazed, when they hear, that none of it is for business. Everything for pleasure! So here is a guide on how do I manage to get so many days off, keep up working full-time, and make really budget trips.

First of all I follow two principals, a) always use public holidays, especially religious ones, for travelling, combining free days with annual leave and b) always go to the countries, where there is no celebration of this holiday. For example, I was choosing my CNY trip destination very carefully. 
My choices were catholic Philippines or Muslim Indonesia. As it was already pretty close to the Chinese New Year, my choice was limited by prices of tickets. So I end up making simplest choice - Jakarta. Really, simplier is only Kuala-Lumpur. Well, consider, that I'm low budget traveler and couple of times made it 42S$ return to Jakarta with TigerAir, including all taxes (yes, guys, who don't believe me, try to subscribe to airlines offers, then actually check it and book trips in advance). Budget airlines often do promos, go-return-for-free, friend-for-free, 0$-seats. Also watch out for different ways to pay, for example, sometimes, you can pay through AXS machine (TigerAir), in 7-Eleven (Jet Star), eliminating costs of credit card transaction on-line.What else, of course, don't take any add-ons like choosing the seat, meal, travel insurance, board-me-first and so on, no luggage, only carry-on.
This time, even without all this, my tickets were 90S$, I felt it's not fair and too expensive for Jakarta, where I've been ten times, but the will to go out from Singapore during Chinese New Year was stronger. I also said myself, that I'm not going to stay in the city, but rather go to see Krakatoa, which had major eruption in 1883. Despite it's very significant nature object, it's extremely hard to get there. You understand me, if you ever been in Asia and experienced old transportation system, very bad narrow roads and millions of people travelling. Sometimes it can take whole day to travel 300 km, which can be made in one hour in Europe. So giving this, I just estimated 3 days for volcano, and from this three only one actually was for trip to volcano island, other two days were for travelling to and from the west coast of Java island.

Kete Kesu, hanging grave, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, East Indonesia, Rantepao
Kete Kesu - hanging grave, The higher you are, the more respect to you
Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, East Indonesia
But then I needed to plan something for other 6 days, as whole my trip was 9 days... I also had a dream to swim with the sharks at the islands of Karimun Jawa. Hani, my Indonesian friend, shown me pictures of her trip around 2 years ago, I had been so impressed by blue transparent water, tiny white stripe of sand and... baby sharks, that will surround you... But the problem is, that Islands are closer to Semarang, and even if I take bus from Jakarta, it's to the East, which is opposite direction from volcano. And let me check... 12-15 hours... or no... Then it's already doesn't matter, how many km it is, as in Semarang I have to hop on the ferry for another 5-6 hours in the sea. Then is the same way back... So whole trip is on the road.
Alternatively, I tried to search small pleasant islands near to Krokatoa, and even found some. Despite, they were spots for super-experienced surfers, it was off-the season time, so not even ferry was operating to reach those remote ones.
And then I had bright idea to check, where I can fly from Jakarta to further Islands, that are not available directly from Singapore and of course, my thoughts turned to Sulawesi, which I dreamed to visit since AirAsia opened direct flights  from Singapore last May or so, but their timetable never suits me, since flights are not everyday, also the prices for CNY dates were quite high. Upon check of main Indonesian budget carriers, I easily found very cheap fare prices from Jakarta to Makassar, because it was not holiday season in Indonesia. There was also an option to Manado. And I could even combine flying to Makassar and returning from Manado or other way around, and it's without price for one-way only ticket to be raised. Amazing, so I booked Lion Air and their daughter Batik Air immediately. Even there were only 4 days left before the trip and first I challenged myself not with the trip itself, but with the task to make a proper research in order to spend my 9 days at Sulawesi the most sufficient way.
What it turned to be, I will tell next time. For now, you can enjoy pictures, that, probably, tell the story better, than words...
Tana Toraja, its funeral ceremonies and different types of graves
Sengkang, Tempe lake trip, Muslim Venice-like village