Archive for Living in Indonesia

Experiencing heavy rain in Jakarta

I am in Jakarta now for a few days and experienced heavy rains here for the first time. Of course it rained often in Medan where I have been living, but the drainage system seems to work well there. Not so in Jakarta. I was using the free wifi in a hotel restaurant and when I thought the rain had subsided, I tried making a quick dash back to my hotel in backpacker ghetto of Jalan Jaksa.

The street looked more like a river. The footpaths along the street are narrow and usually have cars and bikes parked on them and there are also plenty of food carts, making it difficult to make your way down the street. The water of course is brown and I didn’t like not being able to see what might lie in that murky water. Fortunately I made it back to my hotel without dropping my laptop or falling in a hole.


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Moving on from Medan

I have been living in Medan for the past two months and decided that I want to see more of Indonesia. My visa is expiring so I need to make a dash for Penang and hopefully get a Social visa which will allow me to stay here for six months without having to leave the country.

I am looking forward to eating some good Indian food in Penang and stocking up on some English books. Most travelers pass through Medan on their way to Lake Toba or Bukit Lawang but I think it is worth staying for a few days and to be honest it wouldn’t be a bad place to live as an expat. The food is good and it is cheap to live.

When I get back from Malaysia I am planning to travel through Java to Bali, Lombok and the Gili Islands. Perhaps staying in Bali for a while and taking some trips to Kalimantan and Sulawesi, which should be a bit of an adventure.

Medan has some beautiful old buildings which I hope the city tries to preserve

Medan has some beautiful old buildings which I hope the city tries to preserve

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Expat slave labor

I have been browsing some online job sites for expat jobs in Indonesia. Like many countries in Asia, teaching English is one area that is pretty accessible to westerners. It’s a job that is never going to make you rich, but for people looking for a lifestyle change, it is a fantastic way to travel to another and experience a different culture for an extended period.

One thing I noticed about the English teaching jobs here in Indonesia, especially on the famous ESL job site – ESL cafe is that the salaries are pretty low. They might be better than your local taxi driver, but they seem to be less than other Asian countries such as China and Vietnam.

Look at this one for example:

Economy return airfare, 6.6 million rupiah per month (net), – I know it’s not the highest of salaries, but the cost of living here is incredibly low, and our teachers actually save money each month; free modern shared housing (2 mins walk from school); 20 days holiday a year (not to mention at least 8 extra national holidays); 1 month salary bonus on completion of contract; medical cover; economy class return airfare. All visa/work permit costs are covered by the school.

The rupiah is taking a bit of a pounding right now, so 6.6 million works out to be around US$543.34 a month. The job does include “shared housing” and is only 2 minutes walk from the school. I like to live close to my work, but not that close and you better hope your roomie doesn’t snore.

Indonesia is a cheap place to live, especially if you only eat local food and don’t drink. I love Indonesian food, but I do like a bit of variety and occasionally want to enjoy a western meal. Duties on imported alcohol are ridiculous along with other imported food. English books are also more expensive. Internet can be relatively expensive (and slow if you are in a remote area.)

Also I know new graduates, especially from the U.S. probably have to pay back some money on their student loans. Travel in Indonesia is cheap, but unless you want to spend 20 hours riding on a bus or ferry you probably want to fly.

I honestly can’t see how their teachers could “save” money.

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