When some poor travel planning and a surprise twist of fate left us with a chance to completely change our travel plans we were left with a dilemma – should we stay in Indonesia as planned or head off somewhere completely new? Here’s what we decided.

After an idyllic couple of months in Australia and New Zealand we headed to Indonesia where travel well and truly got tough. We were  slapped in the face with culture shock when we arrived in Jakarta, had a hard time negotiating our way through Java, suffered severe bouts of homesickness and struggled to balance work with travel - but we did learn a lot in the process.
We were looking forward to getting to Asia after more than two months and over £7,000 spent in Australia and New Zealand. Before we arrived we had set ourselves a budget of about £30 per day for backpacking Indonesia (along with the rest of Asia – a little naïve no?). So, we were ready for our costs to dramatically drop from here-on-in but how much did it really cost to travel Indonesia?

I knew full-well when we set off on this trip that I’d have to confront many issues that morally outrage me such as the global sex trade, homelessness and animal cruelty. These issues are prevalent enough in so called ‘developed’ countries like the UK but we found that as soon as we hit Indonesia they became even more visible; in particular we were struck by the plight of Indonesian street animals.

Compared to Australia and New Zealand, we found travelling in Indonesia a bit of a challenge. For a start, we were dealing with a completely new language that neither of us spoke; we were travelling huge distances by often dubious public transportation, coping with strange new foods and an unfamiliar currency – that’s all part of the fun when it comes to travel though, right? When you are heading to a new country though it’s nice to have some insider tips; if you're planning to travel Indonesia we've put together some tips to help you make the most of your trip.

The best parts of our turbulent trip to Indonesia were without a doubt the days when we were out exploring the country, as opposed to working in a hotel room or killing time hanging around in one place trying to stick to our stringent budget. Our happiest days were those spent visiting Borobodour temple and Mount Bromo, snorkelling on the Gili Islands and taking on the Campuhan Ridge walk in Ubud.  Another highlight was our one-day Eco Cycling tour; we got to explore the countryside and get an insight into Bali life as we biked through the heart of the island – here’s how it went.

One of the things we had been looking forward to about Indonesia was the prospect of slowing down after two hectic months of zipping around New Zealand and Australia. Back in London I’d organised 60-day visas so that we’d be able to stop and catch our breath once we arrived in Indonesia. I had pictured us staying in luxurious, cheap hotels where we could go swimming; I imagined days filled with relaxing and exploring combined with plenty of time to write and catch up with freelance work – it would be perfect.

Ubud became, without a doubt, our favourite place in Indonesia - a cool, leafy haven away from the strangeness of Java, the bars in Kuta and the fierce heat of the beaches in Lombok and the Gili islands. Overall, we had a pretty tough time in Indonesia; the six weeks we spent there were marked with struggles, tears, illness, frustration and plenty of soul searching. Ubud, however, became a kind of refuge for us and we look back on our time there as the most serene during our six-week stay – here are the highlights of our time in Ubud Bali.

I’m a great fan of monkeys and apes. Back home my mum and I often visit Monkey World, an ape rescue centre in Dorset; when we went on safari in Kenya my favourite animal wasn’t one of the impressive big five, it was the gangster of the animal world – the baboon. So, I was pretty excited at the prospect of getting up close to some Macaques at the Monkey Forest in Ubud – that was, until they started attacking us.