top of page
  • Writer's pictureClotaire Mandel

Indonesia : the slap

Quick intro note : I've planned to make my blog a wee bit more dynamic (which wouldn't be that hard eh) and write a blog post for every country I stumble across. Didn't want to serve a description of where I turned, ate or whatever. Wanted something more personal. And it just came naturally as I started to write about Indonesia, which has been a deep experience. So. Indonesia has completely shake my humble person. Well, it was a fair slap in my face actually. And I didn't see it coming. Although it was in the title. Fourth most populated country in the world, and I picked very small and densely populated islands. So it as already a massive change coming from Australia with it's 3 inhabitants per km2. Has been quickly too much.

Too much, because this world I was dreaming about when younger, which I finally flirted with for the last ten years or so, is exhausting me now. What was appearing tropical and exotic has become just incomprehensible. For the simple reason that, before, this exotisme was the supreme goal. And nowadays this incomprehension is missing it's charm, which almost became disgust.

Ok, this word is quite a strong one, but what was a luxury before, like travelling the world and cycling Asia, has become a hell of an overpopulated country. It's all about what we perceive more than what things are. And this is how I perceive it now. The seducing chaotic mess is now an unbearable noisy world. And this mess is nothing more to me than the sign of a convulsion. First convulsions of a world going head first straight onto the wall. And this journey lately made me remember how anxious I actually am to see the world burning and melting, being ruined, by overpopulation at first. I remember myself taking heaps of photos back in the days of those wild dumping spots, back of fancy hotels where massive piles of plastic are burned. And this time I dont even have the energy for that. No energy, and it doesn't even surprise me at all.

Lift up the question of my presence here. The legitimacy of my visit here knowing how much extra waste and pollution my presence will add up. But Lombok for exemple, center and east Lombok, is so not touristic that is no way we can explain the shit EVERYWHERE by the touristic presence. Things sold by supermarkets and stalls are all packed in plastic. Not even talking of the nutritional aspect of it. Not trying to excuse myself, but I'm not too sure I'm not the problem. It's way bigger than that. Just having a look at the density population in Bali and Lombok for exemple. The global population is growing up fast and big. And precisely where it's already overpopulated. If my presence here doesn't help at all, it won't be solved after I leave. Where to find myself in all of this ?

Was telling myself as a joke I would love to focus more on least densely populated part of the world, mountains and deserts included indeed. That the human presence was appreciable, as long as it's not invading every single of my five senses. It was a bit of a joke. It's not anymore at all. And if I crave for peace, it's on a selfish perspective. Calm, birds, wind and a delicate classic album coming out of a nicely set speaker. The chaos coming from noise is just horrifying me now. Mostly because I comes as part of a culture sometimes, and I truly think that's the Indonesian case. Without necessarily noticing it.

Motorbikes need to be the noisiest, scooters are the new pair of legs, speakers spitting loud music in front of shops, temples and mosques trying to push the decibels up to spread the message. It's even hard to find a cafe where you're not turning deaf after 15 minutes. And to cover all of this, people have to talk loud.

“HELLOOOOOOO, HOW ARE YOOOOOOOU”. People are absolutely lovely. And I feel very welcome, with caring look at myself suffering on a bike. But I can't deal with people shouting at me, even if it's to say hi.

What's funny is, in the last year, I clearly compensated this deafening boiling planet by listening more classic music. Where the world is just getting too much, far too much, I just find refuge in the sweetness of piano and classic. That's my response. Sailing back to Bali island, I woke up on the Padang Bai beach. Early morning, I sat on the terrasse and start my daily meditation, when is no human movement or no light either. And what a miracle, I can here the ocean swinging. Those small waves were here yesterday, but how to perceive this constant noise out of the human presence. And that's the terrific thing. In that sort of spot, you need an massive effort to hear through and perceive wind, waves and birds. Which means waking up very early. Which means trying to live when other sleep. I really asked myself if it wasn't the time to buy a piece of land, to take showers more regularly and to just settle down. But I still have the same devil inside me when looking at photos from Mongolia, west China, Tibetan plateau, Central Asia or high Bolivian plateau. It's all good tho. I just need to be more careful with the net destinations I pick. Cause this time, coming back to Kuta to fly out, once the bike stopped, I just had a big exhalation of relief. Here I just didn't want to make extra kilometres, to go further than planned, to ride too much. And hard to talk with people as well somehow. I feel a bit sorry for that sometimes but I'm also only human, and I just know noise and crowds drive me a bit crazy now. Those two don't necessarily come together by the way. Anyway, had to write it down, and finally share it. Few photos now.


Riding in Indonesia is not bad at all, I'll just recommend to carefully choose on which island. Bali and Lombok for exemple are in my humble opinion too small. Small perspectives, too much boat trips involved, means money as well. Too much traffic, too much human presence, too much noise. But if you're not afraid of a decent elevation, secondary roads are beautiful and more peaceful.

I'm looking at the photos now. And somehow I discover it with you. Remembering the road done. And it's interesting to realise what I've seen hasn't been passionating. It was the scenery, and it's beautiful. But my head was far away. And surprisingly, I also came to the realisation of the absurdity of my journey so far : I barely rode on the countries and places I've always dreamed of. I could hardly explain why actually, but after almost 4.5 years on the road, what what really driving me is still to come. We can read it from different perspectives, and that's pretty cool. It's maybe to keep me going for a while, to have a permanent motivation to continue. If I do a list of countries and place I would love to ride, I've been in just a few. Has to change. Et puis quelques photos encore, puisque c'est joli comme pays tout de même. And a few more photos, as it's still quite a beautiful place.


Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page