Being a gay traveller in Asia, Malaysia and Indonesia

 

If you are gay, and planning on visiting Malaysia or Indonesia, you need to know the dangers.

Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia, has a great many openly gay men and very open ladyboys, and there is no anecdotal evidence of police harrasing them or of local people harrassing them.

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is a different case. In both countries being gay is almost legal – it is the act of sodomy that is illegal, but in Indonesia they like to attack gay men on an irregular basis. It is not illegal to be gay in Indonesia so they use the porn laws to hassle and to arrest gay people. The police in Jakarta will raid gay saunas and gay-friendly hotels once very few months, a splash for the newspapers. People are arrested and prosecuted.

In the north of Sumatra, places like Banda Ache, they will publically flog you for being gay, so you need to choose carefully where you travel.

Bali is mostly Hindu, whereas Lombok is Mulsim and old-fashioned. In Bali anything goes, but there are still a select few hotels that will not allow unmarried couples or gays. Lombok is conservative and many hotels have issues with unmarried couples and a big issue with gay men sharing rooms. Your best bet is to use airbnb and to pay for one person, no mention of the second person. Most airbnb landlords don’t ever meet their guests, they send a goffer with a key.

Gay rent boys have been arrested recently in Bali (2017). Their clients were not arrested.

TIP. If you are travelling to Lombok, stay on the Gilli islands, where they have a very lax view on everything…

 

In Kualaur Lumpur there are many gay men on Tinder and Badoo, but the ladyboys in Kuala Lumpur have an odd attitude. They all tend to deny being ladyboys, and actively seek out straight men who are looking for girls (with vaginas). The ladyboys turn up at coffee shop meetings in the hope of converting the straight man into one that likes a bit of cock. It never works, they get punched, but they do try it again and again, they want to be treated like women.

In Jakarta you will find a few gay men on Tinder and Badoo, and rent boys can be found for old Western men. Again, such people make use of airbnb condos not hotels, and in Jakarta there is a danger that the police will be called. For the most part, people in Jakarta don’t care about hassling gay men, but the religious leaders like to attack gays on a periodic basis.

There are a great many gay men in Indonesia, just that they hide it and don’t advertise the fact loudly. There are now (2018) several LGBT shops in Jakarta that offer advice and fly the rainbow flag. They get raided now and then but tolerances are growing.

I have never seen a dedicated gay bar in Jakarta or anywhere in Indonesia, there are few in Kuala Lumpur such as iBlue and OMG. Gay saunas in Kuala Lumpur have been raided in the past, but then again so have the straight ones that offer sex.

In Jakarta there are regular bars that are popular with LGBT, such as Apollo, but they are not dedicated gay bars. There are gay-friendly cafes and bars, but they have a mixed crowd.

Genting Highlands, east of Kuala Lumpur, is not a gay resort, it just looks like one…!

Ancol Dreamland, north Jakarta, Indonesia

Ancol is a large area on the coast of Jakarta and offers a lagoon for water skiiing, a fun fare, a large aquarium and a small zoo. It also offers many cafes, plus a sandy beach.

The lagoon

 

The aquarium

 

The ocean, and some odd guy…

 

To get into the attractions you must not take inside food and drink, smoke, or carry a gun…

 

Port Dickson, Malaysia

Lexis Hotel, chalets on stilts in the water. Port Dickson, near Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Chalets booked through airbnb.com

The Lexis hotel is in very good condition, has a nice pool (gets crowded), and there is an artificial yellow-sand beach. Beyond the artificial beach is just mud, and the water is brown. Outside the hotel there is nothing to see or do, a cluster of bars and restaurants down in Port Dickson waterfront, a few km away.

The chalets are funky, on stilts in the water and with glass in the floor so that you can see the waves. Rooms service is excellent, and you can hire fishing rods from a counter next to the pool and fish off your balcony. Each room has a jacuzzi, and the rooms are of a high standard. I booked through airbnb but the room was cleaned every day like a hotel, not like an airbnb condo.

It is long taxi ride to KL central, almost 2 hours, and taxis are rare unless booked through the hotel reception, so expensive compared to normal. Trick is a taxi to the airport then the train in, or another taxi but from the airport.

On a good day a taxi from the airport is 20 minutes but GRAB TAXI does not operate in the area.

TIP. If you have a stop-over in KLIA, book a night here in Lexis, fly on refreshed. Some people break their journeys this way, second leg after a few day’s rest.

 

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Casablanca Residences, Jakarta, Indonesia

Casablanca Residences, south central Jakarta, Indonesia. Large studio for $550 a month all in. 3 pools, gym, sundeck.

Found on airbnb.com

The residence sits next to a large mall, Kota Casablanca Mall, hundreds of shops and hundreds of cafes and restaurants, everything you might need. The residences are just 15 mins from the centre if you travel when it is qiuet, and there is a great back-road route north, just turn left out the hotel.

The main road of Jalan Casablanca is a nightmare any time of day, but at 5pm you might just wait an hour in static traffic.

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