Tag Archives: spend

Indonesia Budget & Other Numbers

My wallet was looking forward to getting to Asia, as everyone had told me it was even cheaper than Latin America. And, I didn’t do too badly – food & drink were the cheapest since Bolivia, and accommodation was the cheapest yet. Or rather I should say, I didn’t do too badly as long as I stayed on the ground. Because my (inevitable) overspend was down to two things: one was flying between islands, and the other was the nine dives I did. One was pretty essential (ferry timetables aren’t always that helpful) and the other I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

The other big expense was that I treated myself to a brand new pair of (real, not fake) boardshorts to replaces the ones I bought in Miami and which are already a bit frayed from daily wear. They were particularly nice, if I do say myself. So nice in fact, that after just three hours of wear I hung them out to dry, from where they were promptly nicked while I popped out for a drink. At over $20 an hour of use, it was one more big expense I could have done without.

It’s looking more and more likely now that I’m going to overshoot on budget for the year – although it’s still only marginally. Here’s how the daily averages looked:
Transport: $10.66
Accommodation: $5.56
Activities: $14.88
Misc & purchases: $5.39
Food & drink: $18.44
Total: $54.94

In the seven months of travelling before Indonesia, I’d met a grand total of one Swede. That all change in Indonesia – the place is FULL of them. In fact, the 23 Swedes I met is the biggest concentration of people from one country since the 21 Americans I met in Guatemala. Bizarre. The total is enough to shoot them straight up into joint eighth place in the list of where people I’ve met are from, alongside the Dutch, who were nearly as ubiquitous in the country. The only new country added to this list in Indonesia was Hungary.

Sweden:23
UK: 20
Netherlands: 15
Australians: 14
Indonesia: 13
Germany: 8
USA: 8
Canada: 5
Finland: 4
France: 4
Switzerland: 4
Belgium: 3
Spain: 3
Saudi Arabia: 1
Brazil: 1
Hungary: 1
Portugal: 1
Austria: 1
Mexico: 1

And finally onto those other numbers. Being in the world’s largest archipelago was enough to see my island total shoot up. There’s also a new entry on the modes of transport front – after only being on a moped once in my entire life, they became quite a regular feature in Indonesia.
Beds: 21 (including one on a boat and one in a tent)
Cash withdrawals: 16
Phone calls: 10
Postcards: 2
Laundry: 5
Islands: 16
Dives: 11
Beaches: 8
Volcanoes: 3
Museums: 1
Buses: 16
Taxis: 14
Boats: 14
Mopeds: 15
Flights: 3
Kayaks: 1
Jeeps: 1
Cars: 2
Tuk Tuks / Bejaks: 4

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Argentina (steak) Round-up & Budget

Five days in Argentina is nowhere near enough. But it certainly was wnough to stuff myself with steak, drown myself in red wine, and clog my arteries with dulce de leche.

For if my little jaunt through Argentina on my way from Bolivia to Santiago was about one thing, it was food and drink. Boy do the Argentinians know to how to live. I managed to eat steak in some form or another every day I was there – and they were some of the finest steaks of my entire life. On the first night in Salta, I went out with Jade & D’Arcy, who I´d met on the Salar de Uyuni trip, and we treated ourselves to a Parillada, the classic Argentinian mixed grill, which consisted of two different cuts of steak, two types of chorizo, chicken, pork, kidneys, black pudding and some other unidentifiable (but still delicious) offal. The next day’s lunch saw the best steak sandwich of my life, and the following night’s bus a more than passable steak dinner (which was far better than any airline meat I’ve ever had). My first night in Mendoza I had the best steak of my life – a chateaubriand that was practically the size of my head, perfectly tender, perfectly cooked, nice and brown on the outside and perfectly pink and just bloody enough on the inside. And all for less than $10. My final night, in the marvellous hostel Lao, we had the best hostel dinner I´ve had, with the whole hostel sat round a huge table working our way through a fantastic barbecue and (unusually enough for Argentina) an equally terific salad…

…which gets me onto something I wondered the whole time I was there. How on erath are all Argentinians not fat, or dead of heart disease by the age of thirty? When you order a steak in a restaurant there, that´s what you get. A steak. On its own. Side orders are available, but most people seem to content themselves with chips at best. And then polish it all off with lots of red wine, and probably some dulce de leche (the classically Argentinian gooey caramel) for dessert. Lovely for a few days, but I’m sure if I had the diet I did for much more than five days I´d be dead pretty damn soon. Maybe vegetables are a dirty little secret that people only consume in the privacy of their own home? Answers on a postcard please (or the comments box if you can’t be bothered).

The wines were all pretty fantastic too. I’m not a huge wine drinker back home, but being in the home of Argentina’s finest reds, I couldn’t not try them – and they were all great. I think I must have somehow picked up a certain European snobbery about the Malbec grape (the most common in Argentina) because I’ve never really drunk much before, but I’m a convert now. Sorry to any family reading this – I had planned to ship a case home for you all for Christmas, until I saw it came to $150 just for the shipping. Ouch.

Those five days were wonderful (other than a few struggles to understand the Argentinian accent) and the country is now even more firmly on my list of places to visit after this trip – I have heard so many good things about Buenos Aires while travelling, and Patagonia is up the top of my future hiking plans.

In terms of costs, two things conspired to wreck my daily budget – all that good steak and fine wine meant my food & drink spend was near the highest so far, and that 19 hour luxury bus trip (in all fairness, it was my longest bus ride to date, so I figured it was worth treating myself) meant transport costs were easily my highest yet – nearly double the next highest country.
Transport: $20.40
Accommodation: $7.50
Activities: $3.75
Misc: $0.75
Steak & Wine: $21.10
Total: $53.50

A briefer than usual round-ip of the other numbers:
Buses: 2
Car s: 1
Bikes: 1
Taxi: 4
Postcards: 2
Cash withdrawals: 3
Wineries: 5
Cows eaten: several

..and finally the people I wined & dined with. This is the first country since Mexico where the natives have made up the largest group of people I met, and also the first since Mexico where Brits or Americans weren’t number one, thanks to the large and very friendly Irish contingent I met in Mendoza.
Argentinians: 7
Irish: 4
Dutch: 2
UK: 2
US: 1

Next, and final stop in Latin America, a return to Chile.

Bolivia Round-up & Budget

I could have sworn when I was planning my trip that I’d left myself enough time for a month in Bolivia. But somehow I screwed up and that month turned into two weeks, which really isn’t enough time to get to know a place properly.

Colourful balloons in Sucre

Colourful balloons in Sucre

But, having said that, the two weeks I had were great fun. As usual for Latin America, the people everywhere were incredibly friendly. La Paz is a wonderful place to visit, one of the nicest big cities I’ve visited so far – I was expecting the capital city of one of the poorest countries in the Americas to be big, dirty and dangerous – but it turned out to be none of those. It’s relatively small size means the centre is all easily manageable on foot; it was clean and with well-preserved colonial buildings, and it had a really nice selection of shops, restaurants, museums and bars, all of which were pretty safe to wander around to. On top of that, it’s blessed with one of the finest locations of any city I’ve been to yet – La Paz is crammed into a canyon that cuts through the Bolivian Antiplano, meaning on all sides you can see colourful houses filling the slopes, and in the distance sit the snowcapped mountains of the nearby Cordilleras. Quite spectacular.

La Paz panorama

La Paz panorama

Sucre too was another fine colonial city, and one that I particularly enjoyed fot its fascinating cemetary (and its rather cool Dino-phone, presumably a reference to the nearby largest collection dinosaur footprints in the world).

Sucre cemetary

Sucre cemetary

The dinophone

The dinophone

Cholita’s wrestling, the Death Road, visiting the mines of Potosi and the Salar de Uyuni were all real trip highlights (for very different reasons), but it’s all just left me wanting more. Unlike Mexico, Colombia & Peru, where my six weeks left me enough time to feel I’d begun to get to know the country and its people, two weeks in Bolivia leaves me feeling I’ve barely scratched the surface, and all those experiences were so different I feel like I have no sense of the country as a whole. There’s still so much I want to see in the country – the jungle, the pampas, the Cordilleras, and the Jesuit Missions of the south east in particular – that I’m pretty certain I’ll be back the the near future.

So, onto money then. Bolivia is supposedly the cheapest country in South America, and yes, it did indeed beat Guatemala to become my cheapest country so far. But, as is probably becoming familiar to any regular readers, not as cheap as I’d hoped. I pretty much fell down across the board – staying in hostels that were probably a bit too nice meant I spent way more than I had in Guatemala and Honduras; I continued to splash out on nicer meals (although my food costs were still the lowest so far), and all those activities added up in cost. But overall, not a bad result, and at least it brings the overall average back down (but not as much as I’d hoped).

Transport: $2.96
Accommodation: $7.29
Activities: $12.50
Laundry & miscellaneous stuff: $2.43
Food & Drink: $16.21
Total: $41.39

And onto the other numbers…
Buses: 5
Taxis: 2
Bikes: 1
Beds: 7
Jeeps: 1
Boats: 3
Hot Springs: 1
Laundry: 2
Postcards: 2
Cash withdrawals: 5
Islands: 1
Volcanoes: 1
Geysers: several
Salt Flats: 1
Wrestling Bouts: 5

…and the people I met. New nationalities to add to the total this time were an Austrian and the Bolivians. Surprise showing by the French & Dutch this time, with usual suspects the Americans, Germans & Israelis falling way behind. Most of all were the Brits, who have finally taken the lead in my overall tally from the Americans.
UK: 18
French: 5
Dutch: 5
US: 4
Australians: 3
Bolivians: 3
Swiss: 3
Belgians: 2
Czechs : 2
Spanish: 2
Irish: 2
Austrian: 1
Canadian: 1
German: 1
Kiwis: 1

That’s it for Bolivia now – next up, a brief stop in Chile and then straight on to Argentina. You can see all my Bolivian photos here, and read all my posts about the country here. And remember, if you want to be notified of all future updates, you can click on one of the links top right to get updates via RSS or email.