Indonesia is an intriguing country with its rich tapestry
of religions, traditions, cultures, languages and people. Each of
its five main islands, that combined with 17,000 outlying islands
go to make the world's largest archipelago, has a rich identity and
a distinct culture.
Bali has the most extraordinary sense of calm and
tranquility about it. At the heart of Bali stands Ubud, nestled
amongst terraced rows of paddy fields dancing in the sunlight. The
island is literally dotted with hundreds of Hindu temples, shrines
and places of worship all decorated with bountiful offerings of
flowers and food. For a really magical experience, visit the
waterside Pura Ulun Danu Bratan Hindu-Buddhist temple in the centre
of the island. However for many the beaches are the call of Bali -
and these abound. Just take your pick.
Java is the centre for traditional art and culture and is
home to two of Indonesia's and South-East Asia's greatest
monuments. Borobudur, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an 8th
Century Buddhist temple and is truly inspirational. Perhaps built
to rival this is the 9th Century, Hindu Prambanan Temple complex,
said to be the most beautiful in Indonesia.
If you are really after a lateral diversion head to
Indonesia's least known province - Kalimantan. Venture into its
deep, dark and mystical interior and you can discover orangutans,
proboscis monkeys and bird life. There are also traditional tribes
people here hidden deep in the mountains, forests and
Komodo Island, as the name may suggest, is home to the
fearsome and famed Komodo dragons. They are the largest living
species of monitor lizard and can weigh up to an incredible 70
kilos or more. Scared of creepy crawlies, this might not be the
place to go.
In Sulawesi, divers may try for yourself and see if the
dive site at Palau Bunaken and the Lembh Strait is amongst the best
in the world. However, diving aside, the most popular attraction in
Sulawesi is Tana Toraja. Truly unique, it is about cave graves,
hanging graves and tau tau which are life sized wooden effigies.
The island is also home to extraordinary traditional villages,
unique architecture and a fascinating culture.
Indonesia is somewhere to take your time. It will be a
deeply rewarding experience.