Indonesia had not featured on my travel itinerary for a very long time and somehow I never thought much of it, until a work assignment popped up in one of the islands of this archipelago nation. Since I was a last-minute replacement for a colleague who met with an accident, there was only enough time for me to pack and leave. It was in 2014 and I was visiting Indonesia for the first time. Thus I had no idea of what to expect when I boarded the flight to Denpasar. The arrival procedures were refreshingly easy and the familiarity of Bali comforted me in a motherly way. There were plenty of things which reminded me of India and Balinese Hindu traditions are simply gorgeous. My first destination was Lombok and I was supposed to board a ferry for the island from Bali. Due to some miscommunications, my departure to Lombok was delayed for a few days and I was happily stuck in Bali until my work papers got processed. There is nothing more pleasurable than a company paid holiday and my sudden change of plans to visit Indonesia suddenly did not seem so bad.
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Indonesia offers some of the last great adventures on earth
There are a few things that I remember most from my Indonesia trip. The delicious, flavourful food tops that list and then there was the excitement of crossing seas to visit various islands. I loved the fact that transportation or island hopping in Indonesia meant several hours or days of a sea voyage and the option of flying was equally complicated. The country is so far-flung that even flying required serious research and hunting for flight schedules and ferrying across its vast marine stretches on not very reliable steamers are some of my most poignant Indonesian memories. These journeys somehow reminded me of times gone by, when the world traveled by ships or boats and a trip to anywhere for whatever reason invariably caused a lot of excitement. I felt I had gone back in the golden era of exploring the world and those sea voyages which were devoid of the internet or any electronic distraction, gave me lots for imagination.
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This is a country of bewildering diversity
Those are some of the most content moments of my life. I read voraciously, wrote a lot, and let my imagination run wild. Indonesia’s wilderness baffled me and its expansive 5200 kilometers made me feel very small. With 18, 110 islands, Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelago in the world and it shares borders with Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Palau, East Timor, Papua New Guinea, and Australia. Volcanoes, tropical rain forests, pristine islands, impossibly blue ocean, powder-soft beaches, snow-capped mountains, incredible wildlife, cyber cities, Iron Age civilizations, and blood bathed village rituals create its whirlwind like diverse panorama and to me, it seemed as if the whole planet has been showcased in one country.
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My favourite places in Indonesia
Bali still remains my favourite place in Indonesia with Irianjaya being a close second and I can never get enough of both. Java was nice too and I experienced some spiritually rich moments at Borobudur at sunrise. Much to my surprise, it was in Java, that I discovered Indonesia to be the cradle of many historically important civilizations and was amazed by their spectacular ruins. Lombok and Gili Islands were absolutely paradisaical and hard to reach Banda was like a step back into Indonesia’s colonial times.
Indonesia heals, shocks, and mesmerizes
At the time of my Indonesia trip, I was undergoing some very distressing personal problems and much like the story of Elizabeth Gilbert in “Eat, Pray, Love”, Bali acted like a healing balm on my lacerated soul. My troubles were the reason why I accepted the last minute assignment and I also needed the money badly. In such circumstances, my company paid Ubud break was like an unexpected blessing and Bali’s village-like gentle pace rejuvenated me like never before. Eating, working, getting massages, and staring at balsam bordered green rice fields consisted of my Balinese days and it was at Ubud that I managed to enjoy a bit of Indonesia’s luxe, cosmopolitan lifestyle. I remained in Indonesia for more than 6 months after that and during my stay experienced many different mishaps. Severe food poisoning, a jellyfish sting, getting cheated, and facing serious financial stress due to my credit card getting swallowed up by outdated ATM machine, also happened in Indonesia and the gentle, relaxing start of my trip prevented me from leaving my mission before completion.
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Volcanoes, rice terraces, beaches, ruins, and rainforests
Needless to say, my Indonesia experience was very rich. Mostly awesome with tinges of bad, I loved nearly every moment of my time there. Though I like some places more than others and clearly felt the difference in mentalities of Indonesians hailing from various islands, my stay in the archipelago nation is unforgettable. Indonesia is a wellspring of beauty and there exists an abundance of incredible adventures and soul touching moments when you will silently thank God for being so alive. Indonesian sensory experiences explode in form of stunning volcano hikes, soft pink sunrises, transparent cerulean blue ocean, black sand beaches, cuisine bursting with flavours, wildly vivid sunsets and gentle croaking of frogs at Ubud rice field homestays.
In Indonesia, be prepared to have an experience of a lifetime
Huge, spectacular and an absolutely 360 degrees travel destination, Indonesia can be best summed up in one word and that is breathtaking. Intoxicating, intriguing and perhaps the last frontier for some of the greatest adventures on earth, Indonesia is unforgettable. So Selamat Datang to Indonesia, where the world is an oyster. Join me as I take you through Indonesia and let’s explore this gorgeous country one day at a time.
RESPONSIBLE TRAVELING-BECAUSE I CARE