Basic Indonesia

By | Category: Travel destinations


Indonesia is the largest archipelago in the world with 17,000 islands making up the country and it stretches 5,200 kilometres from east to west. To be honest, I have heard two different figures about how many islands there are. It is more than anyone is ever likely to visit in one lifetime!

It is unsurprising, then, that are 742 different languages and dialects in the country. Last year, there were 8,802,000 international visitors to the country which was up 9.42% on 2012. The number of visitors from the UK amounted to 220,935 of us which placed us in eighth as a tourism feed to the country but the largest supplier from Europe. As you might expect given the distance necessary to travel there, visitors tend to stay a while -the average length of stay is 14 days. So important is tourism to the Indonesian economy that 1 in 11 people are working in it.

This year they hope that 9.5 million visitors will venture there. Once there, air travel is vital to moving visitors around and there are 217 airports and another 24 opening by 2015. The national airline, Garuda, links Gatwick directly to the country as from the end of May. Most other European countries have to change in the Middle East, South East Asia or connect via KLM in Amsterdam which is the option for most British and Irish residents since it is easier than trying to get to Gatwick.

the other Bali

the other Bali

Bali is probably the place that you immediately think of when you think of Indonesia. But there are islands with beaches as good as Bali’s but without the built-up infrastructure or the many tourists. As anyone has been there knows, Bali can get busy as it is still a top resort for Australians, Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese visitors! The beaches and the surfing at various resorts attract people who, when they want a  change, can head into the mountains but be wary. Balinese driving can be a little bit adventurous! Back in the resorts the nightlife starts early and lasts long and this is another reason why Bali has proved so popular with international visitors.But apart from the beaches, Indonesia has 16% of the world’s reptiles and amphibians, 212 butterfly species, 12% of the world’s mammals and 10% of the world’s entire forests are to be found in the country. So popular has it become that there are 115 cruise destinations in the country and in 2014, 384 different cruise calls will be made so cruise passengers can see something of the country.

The beaches aren’t even top of the country’s agenda in trying to attract more visitors. The prime focus – one of 16 – is on the country’s heritage such as the Borobudur Temple, (largest Buddhist monument in the world) Subak,  (five sets of rice terraces and associated water temples that go back a thousand years) Toraja ( where the people follow age-old traditions and funeray celebrations) and Kokas where there are pre-historic sites drawings on canyons and which are known locally as blood paintings.

Komodo dragon

Komodo dragon

And you can’t forget the landscape. As well as the range and quantity of animals mentioned earlier, this archipelago is the home to the Komodo Lizards, the Java Rhino, dwarf buffalos, orangutans and birds of paradise. Under water there are dugongs, dolphins, whales, giant manta rays and coelacanths although you’ll be astonishingly lucky to see them.

With that vast number of languages, it will be apparent that there are many different food specialities in different parts of the country. Indonesia is majoring on 30 of those during this year. Remember at one stage, this was known as the Moluccas or Spice Islands. Nutmeg, cloves, mace, black pepper and other spices play a large part in cooking processes. The first “foreign” food I ever ate was a Nasi Goreng which is sometimes called the national dish of Indonesia. Mine was nothing like that tasted in the country.

one of many Borobudur statues

part of Borobudur

Jakarta – the capital city – is a large, sprawling and overcrowded city. Most people come here for business and head elsewhere to enjoy Indonesia but it does have many colonial buildings from the time when it was called Batavia,was the centre of the Dutch East Indies Company and known as the “Queen of the East.” It does have the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah, which portrays the country in miniature, shopping, museums that you would expect and, just outside, Ancol Dreamland, a resort complete with a Seaworld, a Fantasy World known as Dunia Fantasi that includes boat rides into It’s a Doll’s World.

For us, it is necessary to buy a visa which costs $25 (say £16) but we this can be purchased on landing in the country so you don’t need to apply months in advance as with some destinations.

For more about Indonesia, click here.


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