Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 16 February 2014 • Opinion
It’s pretty ironic to say that Indonesia is not all volcanoes at the moment considering a few mountains are erupting, a bunch more are on alert status, and the news are blaring about the volcanoes as we speak. But there is more to Indonesia than this. Here’s a piece from Luke Fairweather, a travel journalist and lover of all things Asian, especially the cuisine. After writing his first travel article there two decades ago he fell in love with the country and relishes every opportunity to visit.
Indonesia has long proved popular among adventurous holidaymakers and it’s easy to see why. Located between the Asian mainland and Australia, this fascinating and diverse archipelago comprises over 17,000 islands and is home to around 246 million people. Stretching from the edge of Papua in the east to the tip of Sumatra in the west, the country boasts a kaleidoscope of cultures, languages, cuisines and landscapes.
If you’ve been travelling around Europe and staying in and out of hotels in Paris and other cities, and now fancy somewhere different, you can branch out and hit Indonesia for a couple of weeks. Luckily, vacationers can arrange accommodation quickly and easily in Indonesia. All it takes is a quick search online and you should be able to find what you’re looking for.
Cool Things to See and Do
Wherever you stay in these volcanic islands, you can get stuck into activities such as scuba diving, surfing and trekking. Of course, you may simply want to use your time in the country to relax and unwind. In Sumatra, you can explore thick jungles and check out the orangutan sanctuary at Bukit Lawang. You can also visit the resorts on Pulau Samosir in the Danau Toba, Southeast Asia’s largest lake.
Home to the volcanoes of Gunung Merapi and Gunung Bromo, Java is another popular island. Here you can experience the hustle and bustle of Jakarta, the capital. This contrasts nicely with the ancient cultural center of Yogyakarta, renowned for its fine art and music. Yogyakarta also makes a superb base for visiting the island’s Buddhist and Hindu temples.
Taman Sari in Jogjakarta
Bali is well worth exploring too. This small island boasts plenty of great surf and beautiful temples. For some lively nightlife, hit the party towns of Kuta and Legian. For a quieter experience, head for the beaches at Lovina and Candi Dasa. While you’re in Bali, you might also wish to visit the cultural heart of the island, Ubud.
Trying the Local Cuisine
Indonesian cuisine reflects the diverse nature of its islands. While there, you can experience a host of edible delights, including vegetable salads doused in a deliciously sweet peanut dressing, hot curries, tasty broths and delicate banana-wrapped fish. Many dishes also include the chili-based sauce known as Sambal. It’s worth noting that Jakarta is home to most of the recommended restaurants. However, regardless of which island you’re on, you can be sure you’ll eat well.
The Land of Music and Dance
If you want to immerse yourself in Indonesian culture, check out the country’s traditional dance and music scene. The best known dances are performed in Java and Bali. Each detail of the performances is carefully orchestrated. For example, even merely raising an eyebrow can have real significance.
The dances are accompanied by gamelan orchestras, which consist of vocalists and tuned percussion instruments such as gongs and drums. A large gamelan can comprise up to as many as 30 musicians.
Thanks to its natural charm, cultural diversity and sumptuous food, Indonesia really is the perfect holiday destination.