Indonesia is the biggest archipelago on earth! That means over 17000 islands! It would be a dream to see them all, but for now we focus on the main ones and our recommendations as highlights for each of them.
We start off with Java, as being considered the center one, as Jakarta, the capital is on it’s West coast. There are many things to see in Java, apart from the touristic places around Malang presented in the city page.
Undoubtedly, the Borobudur and Prambanan temples are a must see. Located in the area of Yogyakarta, South of Java, these too temples talk of the Hindu heritage that influenced Indonesia for many years. As they are famous it is easy to visit them, and having KITAS will help too, reducing the price from 250. rp to 30.000 rp. While in Jogja, take the time to enjoy this city and it’s surroundings, like Pacitan beach.
Also interesting in East Java this time is, Kawan Ijen, a faimous mountain for it’s blue “lava”, which has it’s colour from the sulfur rocks.
If you like beaches and snorkelling, Karimun Jawa is a place to go – in the north part, close to Semarang City. A small archipelago with clear blue water and white sand. But there are many beautiful beaches everywhere!
If you like mountains, you can climb mount Semeru, the tallest active volcano, the view at the top will be worth the 4 days hiking.
Sumatra is the 6th biggest island in the world, so we will concentrate on the Sounthen part called: Lampung. Here is one of the 6 National Parks were they care for the Sumatran elephants. At Way Kambas you can spend a few nights, meet all 70 elephants, ride them, wash them, see them in the wild and learn about their life. The trainers are wonderful people! And they speak English 🙂
A MUST do in Lampung is eat Masakan Padang a type of cooking specific in the area, and from among the dishes the supreme one is Rendang – beef meat cooked with 11 different spices in 3h process, better served in the morning while it’s fresh (yes, eating beef in the morning it’s ok here :))
For surfers: the KRUI area and beaches are one of the best in the world for this sport. The weaves are great and there are no rocks! Plus accommodation and living expenses are very cheap.
As emotionally attached to Ranau lake, we would recommend visiting it also – go to Lombok Wisata town and stay at KEPITING homestay, where ibu (mom) and bapak (dad) will treat you as their own children, making your stay as confortable as possible. It’s a wonderful place, serene, untouched by modernism, where life moves slow but happy. It also offers hot springs directly in the lake, but only the locals can take you there!
Kalimantan is the name of the Indonesian part of the biggest island in the world – Borneo (the other part is Brunei and Malaysia). Kalimatan is famous for the orangutans, they can be seen in the wild in the forests in the center of the island. Many researchers from around the world work here to try to save this animals from extinction, as their life is in danger due to human activity and expansion of urban areas.
But in the South, in the city of Banjarmasin, it’s the only place in Indonesia where you can go to a floating market. As early as 4 a.m. people gather their products (fruits, vegetables, nasi, cookies, cakes) on boats and gather in a special place and exchange these goods with one another. You rent a boat and mingle with the others, do your shopping and have breakfast if you wish.
In Banjarmasin you can also eat crocodile, not at the floating market though 🙂
For those interested in the tribes culture, in Kalimantan there is the famous Dayak tribe which can be seen in the mountain area. They have a long history living here long before the colonization and the former empires.
The funny shaped island of Indonesia, Sulawesi is probably the most difficult island to travel because of it’s predominant mountain areas. But what makes Sulawesi special is the mixture of traditional believes with the influence of new ones. The best example is the Toraja region. Here people still embrace their ancestor beliefs about death, life after death and the ceremony needed to be held in order for their loved ones to get to heaven.
The ceremony itself and their traditions are very complex. But let’s try to summarize it. Basically, the soul of the dead is taken to the heavens by the souls of buffalos, so these animals must be sacrificed on the day of the funeral. Tradition says 24 is the minimum, but the richer the family the higher the number goes. And, since buffalos have 1 baby per year, that makes them VERY expensive. Their price depends of their age, the size of their horns and their breed. An albino, male, adult, 1.5 m long horn can go up to 100.000 EURO – the price of a luxury Mercedes. How do they afford you might think?
Well, a family usually has many children, up to 12 or 14. As soon as they are old enough they start working, most move to Papua or Jakarta because of the better salaries. All their money is saved to be able to pay off the funeral of their parents or grandparents. Once a member dies, all his relatives come back and start planning the funeral, which can take from 3 to 5 days and can thousands of guests.
During these days, the buffalos are sacrificed in the eyesight of everyone along with pigs (which are brought as gifts from the guests). For animal lovers, this experience will be socking. All the meat is then cooked and served to the ones present.
What happens if they don’t raise the money for a proper funeral?
Sometimes the families must borrow money and it might take them 2-3 years to pay back the debt. If borrowing is not an option, the family must keep the body in the house for as long as they need until they have the sum ready (special techniques are used to slow down the rottening process and cover the smell). It’s a great honor to be invited in the house while the body is dead, and all people must act as if the dead person is still alive.
Another special thing about this area is the architecture. Houses are built like the ones seen in the second photo, with a curved upward roof and only has 4 colors: black for the dead, white for purity, brown for earth and yellow for life. Also, 2 roosters are portrayed representing justice: as in former times when there was a conflict without a solution, each side would pick a rooster to fight the other and the winner would also win the argument.
In Sulawesi, you can have the best diving experiences – as in the South is the biggest coral area – Wakatobi – after the Great Barrier Reef in Australia – and in the very North a the great National Park Bunaken.
And just like Java has Karimun Jawa, Sulawesi has Togean Islands and the dreamy tropical holiday getaway. Much more difficult to get there than anyother, but SO worth it, plan your stay at least for 7 days!
Lombok is a well known place for it’s beaches and we are presenting the best. Before you actually get to Lombok itself, there are 3 little beautiful islands, a 1h speedboat away from Bali – the Gili islands.
Gili Trawangan is the PARTY island
It’s is called the second Kuta (party town in South Bali) where the music is pumped up all night long and you can have some of the best beach parties ever.
Gili Meno is the CHILLOUT island
A very quiet and relaxing island, with no motorized vehicles, a claming lake in the middle and nice bungalows buy the beach, it is the perfect destination for lovers and families.
Gili Air is the perfect combination between the other two
Although you can relax in the sun, find great snorkelling spots and have great food, at night you can have a bit more fun and the silence is broken by the visitors interaction by it’s shores.
If you have the time, go all the way to the main Lombok island, Kuta Lombok is a great place to be, with excellent fish dishes.
We kept Bali at the end because it’s full of touristic interesting spots. The absolutely must should be:
Bratan Temple or the Yellow Temple is the main monument found on all promotional material for Indonesia. Totally worth it!
The rice fields! Have a drink while facing this great view! Priceless!
Hindu temples and ceremonies. A great culture concentrated in this small island which gives it charm and a fantastic atmosphere.
Uluwatu temple located up on the high shores of South Bali it is an impressive construction along with a very entertaining open-air theater
PART 2 will focus on the Eastern islands from Flores to Papua 🙂