Holiday in Indonesia
Good to Know
Having three out of the ten biggest islands known in the whole world, there are so much more to explore and learn about Indonesia. With 17,000 islands making up this massive archipelagic country, there are still plenty of unexplored destinations and attractions sure to satisfy the palette of as many varied vacationers and travellers there are. Indonesia is so vast that even a tourist visa valid for 60 days is a disappointing restraint for those who would like to see all the islands not to mention the additional setback of the infrequent ferry schedules. Nevertheless, since Indonesia has still a few treats and surprises up its sleeves for the avid tourist and backpacker aficionado of all ages, it’s time to unleash those equally majestic skills in time management and planning and with the right mix of bravado and vigour, you might just get to see it all.
Another tip is to pick your choice of who to follow: those gung ho backpackers or the quick-footed surfers and divers. Either crowd is sure to guide and lead you to the best-kept secret niches and awe-inspiring, almost ethereal places on the islands. On the other hand, if you’re after the ultimate adventure and the feeling of fully immersing yourself in the culture and daily life, it is best to follow the latter for they have extensive experience on “trip cutting” modes of transportation (i.e., out of the box types of trains, ferries, buses and planes) just to get the chance to ride on that “über” surf breaks (the best believed to be found at the Mentawai, Simeulue and Nias islands) or swim with the rarest marine species in existence.
Must See and Do
Most only know Bali when Indonesia is mentioned; mainly because of the promotion the island got in movies like “Eat Pray Love” starring “Pretty Woman” famous leading lady, Julia Roberts. But there are other places equally stunning and all sorts of culture compellingly alluring that you have to see and engross yourself into while in Indonesia.
For starters, how about scaling the numerous volcanoes scattered throughout the islands? Tangkuban Prahu, at the outskirts of Bandung, is recommended for beginners while Mount Egon stands as a formidable challenge for even veteran climbers.
For history buffs, visiting Anak Krakatoa, remnant of the original Krakatoa volcano which erupted in 1883, is highly recommended. Its eruption, believed to be still unparalleled in the history of mankind, was so strong and deafening that it was felt by countries located at the other side of the globe.
Or you may choose to mingle with the famous Komodo dragons, the biggest lizard in the world indigenous to Komodo island and then soak in the mineral-infused richness of Lake Toba in Sumatra, the deepest and biggest volcanic crater lake in the world.
Of course, you cannot miss the highly recommended Javanese cuisine and destinations, particularly the old Mahayana Buddhist temple of Borobudur at dawn or the nightlife in nearby Yogyakarta, dubbed as Indonesia’s university town.
Other exciting al fresco activities include trekking, hiking, parasailing and banana boat riding.
As countless as its geography is Indonesia’s diverse culture and this becomes more evident as you roam around and immerse yourself in the localities across the archipelago. This fact becomes even more evident in the national phrase of “Unity in Diversity”. Even if “like chalk and cheese”, the many ethnic groups form a kaleidoscope of exquisite multiplicity with their food, customs and lingo set against equally varied environment.
Best Time to Stop By
We recommend stopping by during the dry period from April to November. Bali sees overcrowding during European summer peak season from July and August and Australian Christmas season. It is the only island mostly travelled to by tourists while the remaining islands are seldom visited.
Island Hopping at Its Best
Start off in the island of Sumatra for a culturally enriched experience amongst the conservative Muslims of Aceh, located at the north western part. Only here will you find the strictest of religious devotion unlike the rest of the archipelago where animism, Christianity and Islam are freely exercised side by side. In Banda Aceh, one of the sites where the 2004 tsunami hit the hardest, preppy Acehnese take their java alongside their traditionally attired brothers in both trendy and authentic coffee houses. It is noteworthy to mention that the mountains of Aceh were once the stage of the Free Aceh Movement’s war for independence. Now, the movement’s fighters channel their energy in the lucrative trading of coffee.
Continuing on to the country’s main land, Java, you get to experience the effects of the population boom and the improvement of the average life expectancy, perhaps at its worst. Although considered as having the densest population in the world, it still manages to maintain a few isolated vistas. Similar to the nation’s capital, Jakarta, you can find trendy malls in Java worth stopping by to get your healthy dose of shopping.
Skipping onto the south most tip of the island of Borneo is Kalimantan, the part belonging to Indonesia. Here, you will find the Dayaks, aborigines living in longhouses whose main livelihood is the making of palm oil in several plantations scattered throughout the region, increasingly replacing the jungles. Unfortunately, the disappearance of these rainforests, through illegal logging and quarrying, threatens the wildlife there as well, particularly affected are the native orang-utans which despite efforts to protect them in sanctuaries have still suffered impending extinction.
Moving eastward from Borneo is the island of Sulawesi. Attractions in this island shaped like an octopus include the cities of Manado and Makassar where you may take advantage of all sorts of activities like swimming at its pristine beaches, touring the historical landmarks, diving and volcano-hopping. One particular cultural event worth watching out for is the intricately prepared funerals of the inhabitants of Tana Toraja.
Remember your history lessons of vigorously-sought after spices like cloves, nutmeg and mace and where they came from? It is in one of Indonesia’s islands, particularly the Maluku or Spice Islands, also known as the Moluccas, where these famed spiced are grown and exported all over the world. There are also several areas here where you may tour the remnants of World War II.
And finally, what would a vacation be in Indonesia without visiting the island of Bali? Tourists from all walks of life can take advantage here of the variety of tourism development from dining in stylish pubs to staying in lavish resorts. The beaches at Seminyak and Kuta are highly recommended and for the culturally-inclined, the town of Ubud is a must see to witness the richness of Hindu culture and arts.
You can head east of Bali to witness the drastic lifestyle contrast. For those travellers aiming to immerse themselves in the jadedness of what life in Indonesia is all about minus the development mostly experienced by other countries, this is the place to be. Note however that it’s not for the faint-hearted.
For the vacationers preferring ruggedness and mystery, we can recommend several regions. One is the Wallace Line, found somewhere between Lombok and Bali. Here, you can witness the delineating mark by the presence of two contrasting fauna and flora, one highly Asian (tigers, elephants and tropical forests) the other Australasian (cockatoos and Komodo dragons). Two is the Gili Islands, the in place to be for out-of-this-world beaches and parties. Three is the region comprised of the small, mostly uninhabited islands of West Timor, Flores, Rinca, Komodo, Sumba and Sumbawa. Particularly suggested stopovers are the crater lake region of Flores and the Sumba tribal people, known for their expertise in horse breeding. And four is the island of Papua, frequented still by Christian missionaries and less travelled to but equally alluring in its many, still untouched sceneries.