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Home Page > Travelogues > Indonesia

Quick Access for this Page -- [ Introduction ] [ Travelogues ] [ Features ] [ Links ]

Click on the colored areas of the map to access a travelogue.  The colors indicate different regions of Indonesia -- scroll down for explanation and introduction for each location. (Original map comes from the CIA World Factbook)

IntroductionIndonesia is a sprawling island nation, consisting of thousands of Indonesia islands stretched over an area far larger than the United States.  Each island is a nation unto itself, or even multiple nations, populated by diverse peoples with rich histories and deep traditions.  Over three hundred different languages are spoken, and the traditional architecture and dress are extremely colorful and decorative.  It is also a melting pot for the world's major religions.  Though best known as the world's most populous Muslim nation, it has very significant minority Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist populations.  Ancient Hindu and Buddhist temples dot the entire landscape of the nation, and the people's tolerance of religious diversity have permitted various communities to flourish in pockets across the nation (most notably the Hindu-dominated tourist haven of Bali).

There are five major islands or parts of islands that comprise the bulk of Indonesia's land.  Java is the best known of them, and is the home of Jakarta, the country's capital (Java, however, is culturally subdivided into west, central, and east).  Sumatra, the largest island, is in the west.  Kalimantan in the center is the southern two-thirds of the island of Borneo, famous for its jungles.  The oddly-shaped island of Sulawesi is further east, and the oil-rich province of Irian Jaya that makes up the western half of New Guinea.

Although I have traveled to Indonesia several times (primarily western Java and the island of Bali), I am aware that there are many questions concerning the safely of travelers to the country based on recent events.  I can state as fact that some parts of the country will periodically be placed off-limits or in a restricted status, and normally such information is posted at immigration booths upon entry.  If you do have questions about going to Indonesia, your best bet is to contact your embassy to Indonesia or your ministry of foreign affairs.

Travelogues.  The coloring of the locations on the map above indicate different locations in Indonesia, as shown below.  

GREEN:  JAKARTA (5-Chapter Travelogue).  The city of Jakarta is a sprawling metropolis, where modern National Monument of Indonesia ("Monas")high-rise buildings tower over shanty villages, where rice paddies are grown alongside the main access road to the airport, and where the city's largest Catholic cathedral sits across the street from the country's grandest mosque, the Istiqlal.  Westerners are most likely to visit Jakarta for business, and the Ancol, on the coast of the Java Sealargest international business district is in the Golden Triangle in the center (national monument "Monas" pictured above).  The Taman Mini II is the country's showcase, a cultural museum where the architectures and cuisines are on display.  Ancol (below) is the local playground, with amusement parks and outdoor concert halls.  The final chapter covers a piece on Sights and Sounds, especially written for potential ex-pats to get a hint of what living in Indonesia is like. RED: BALI (15-Chapter Travelogue).  Bali is one of the great island destinations in the world, and among the best known in Asia.  The Balinese are fervently Hindu, Temples at Besakihwith a strong foundation in the arts -- music, dance, woodworking, painting, and jewelry -- and are wonderfully friendly people.  From the many temples to the volcanic landscape to the white sandy beaches, Bali's beauty is unparalleled.  The travelogues offered here are the composite of two visits I took to Bali in 2002-2003, including such popular Cliffs at Uluwatuspots as the temples of Besakih (pictured above), the monkey forest and high cliffs of Uluwatu (pictured below), the artistic heart of Bali at Ubud, the beachside restaurants of Jimbaran, and the prime tourist haven in Kuta.  But there's much, much more -- lakes, bat temples, excursions to neighboring islands, old Dutch plantations, etc. etc. etc.!
BLUE:  JAVA (7-Chapter Travelogue).   The island of Java is the most densely populated island in the country, with three very different Scene from the Javanese "1000 Islands"cultures.  Currently, the travelogues in this chapter focus on West and Central Java and the sultinate province of Yogyakarta.  West Java is represented with the popular destinations of Bogor, Puncak, and the Javanese 1000 Islands (pictured above).  Central Java province has mountain passes and rice fields as far as the eye can see, as shown in a photo gallery here.  Meanwhile, Yogyakarta and the southern part of Central Java has the majority of the island's popular religious sites including the Buddhist temples of Borobudur (pictured below), the Hindi temple complex of Candi Prambanan in Yogyakarta itself, and Sendang Sono, known as the Lourdes of SE Asia, a major pilgrimage site for Asian Catholics.  

Stories and Features:

Kecak Dance.  Art and music is deeply rooted in Balinese culture and religion.  There is no Kecak Dance greater evidence of this than their beautiful and symbolic dances, mostly based on stories of Hindu origin that tell of heroes, heroines, war, and magic.  The Kecak Dance is a prime example, telling the story of the warrior Rama and his quest to reclaim his kidnapped love Sita.  The dance is performed routinely on Bali island, and some towns have regular performances (such as in Batubulan, where I watched it).  This is a wonderful way to spend an evening on Bali! Kuta Bombing Site.   I had the chance to revisit Kuta three months after the Scene from the Kuta Bombing Site terrorist bombing of 12 October 2002.  It was interesting to see how the island of Bali had changed, and how it remained the same, during that time.  It was also noteworthy to see how the tourist industry has worked to overcome concerns about security and safety in order to bring the tourists back.
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Also available:  Order of Catholic Mass - Bahasa Indonesia.  This is a special service provided for Catholics traveling to Indonesia who would like to experience Mass with the locals.  This unofficial translation is freely available (many thanks to my friend Veronica Siwi for helping me put this together, and Father Han for reviewing the work).

LinksThe below links connect you to external sites in a new window.  All links are official sites sanctioned by the national, state, or local governments unless otherwise indicated.  While some home pages are in English, others will open to the Bahasa Indonesia-language home page which will usually offer an icon or link to an English-language section (normally limited content).  The most common icon used is that of an American or UK flag.  If an English language link is not available, click on links named "Tourisme".  This is for the tourism page, which should have English content.  Links updated 5 January 2006.

Country Links:

bulletIndonesia Tourism Page
bullet US Embassy to Indonesia
bullet US Consular Information Sheet about Indonesia
bullet Indonesian Embassy to US  

Regional and City Links:

bullet

Denpasar (Bali) Government Tourism Page

bullet Jakarta City Government Tourism Site
bulletYogyakarta ("Jogja") Home Page
 

   
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