How My High-Maintenance Dad Learned to Love Indonesia (It Takes a While)

How My High-Maintenance Dad Learned to Love Indonesia (It Takes a While)

Indonesia is the land of pizza. Or at least it is when you travel with my dad. For our first week together, pretty much any time I asked him what he wanted to eat, he replied with “pizza” (or gave me a particularly forlorn look and whispered “Chik-fil-a”). My dad is open to new experiences, but he’s also self-admittedly high maintenance and considers A/C, cable TV, and sanitary cooking conditions non-negotiable. So, when he offered to meet me in Indonesia for two weeks, I wasn’t sure what to expect. He’d never been to a developing country, but promised he was ready to get outside of his comfort zone — or at least take a closer look at its edge. As our trip progressed, it became clear that his coping strategy when things got overwhelming was to hunt down pizza. So, on our first day on the island of Lombok, I wasn’t at all surprised to find us wandering down the streets of a tiny village looking for somewhere with a vaguely Italian name. Coming to Lombok had taken us miles outside my dad’s comfort zone and had subsequently fast-tracked us to the nearest cheese covered bread dish calling itself pizza. We’d spent the previous three days in beautiful Ubud, Bali, of Eat, Pray, Love fame — — and then the manicured tourist trap of Kuta, Bali: think American chain restaurants and overly aggressive Ray-Bali sunglass vendors. (I have no photographs of Kuta. It wasn’t worth photographing.) I convinced my dad we should head one island over to the city of Kuta on Lombok, which touts the same name but with more...