I landed at the Ngurah Rai International Airport and the Balinese Temple Architecture was just the welcoming sight I needed to embark on my journey in Indonesia. The modern contemporary interiors juxtapose the traditional Balinese exteriors while the paintings depicting the daily lives of Balinese men and tales from a few centuries ago justify the swift transition. I love airports! They are the modern gateways to a city or country and hold significant architectural importance to extend the identity of that region. The airport also re-instated the much-heard influence local culture has on everything Balinese.
‘The Emerald of the Equator’ is one of the finest examples of an all-inclusive travel destination. Indonesia, the huge archipelago of thousands of islands scattered over Indian and the Pacific Ocean is carved out of green forests halfway between the poles. The famous Java Island is as big as the New York State.
This beautiful island country has everything, I mean everything to offer to travellers of all kinds. Whether it be pristine beaches or mangrove forests, adventure sports or gorgeous temples, ancient architecture or Balinese spa, enchanting art or intriguing wildlife, the list of attractions is endless. It is a Pandora’s box of surprises but the real take home for me was the art!
It has been shaped between old customs and foreign influences, resulting in the most fascinating cultural fusions. You can find magnificent statues of Hindu Gods like Garuda, in Bali, when hopping from one beach to another. While Balinese dances tell tales of ancient Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms, Islamic art forms and architecture in Sumatra speak volumes of the ethnic diversity.
Indonesia reflects historical and geographical diversity like no other country. The vernacular houses mirror the distinctive building style as much as the government buildings and places of worship. Ulun Danu Bratan temple in Tabanan or Taman Wardhi Budaya are 2 of the many examples of Indonesian architecture. The country is also home to one of the previous 7 wonders of the world, The Borobudur Temple, the biggest Buddhist temple in the world. The sunrise over Borobudur is a sight to behold!
Indonesia has some of the best diving spots in the world. Being at the centre of the Coral Triangle makes its waters rich in thousands of species of reefs and fishes. Offroaders can choose an ATV ride in Ubud or Surf Ride in Nusa Dua. Cliff Jump from Aling Aling waterfall or paraglide at Timbis.
Bandung, a small hill station in northern Indonesia is a paradise for shopaholics. It has factory outlets of global brands where Singaporeans fly in on weekends to splurge. It also has amazing cafes and bakeries with premium stuff at unbelievable prices. You can also get tanned and shop on the beaches of Seminyak.
Indulge in strawberry plucking at Bandung or visit a chocolate factory in Bali, taste from a wide selection of finest Java coffees or teas to take home the ones you like. From amazing seafood to patisseries in Bandung, Indonesia is a connoisseur’s paradise. The Rock Bar in Jimbaran is one of the top destinations to view the sunset from while sipping cocktails. You can also indulge in the floating breakfast at Bali’s incredible resorts with stunning infinity pools like Kamandalu Ubud, Aksari Villa and Hanging Gardens of Bali
Nature and Wildlife
Besides boasting about occupying 20% of the world’s reefs, Indonesia has an exquisite wildlife and forest covers. The largest flower in the world, the corpse flower, reaching 5 ft high and 4 ft wide can also be found amidst the greens of Indonesia. The Taman Safari between Jakarta and Bandung not only has untamed animals that you can feed but also ruins hinting at the cultural fusion dating decades ago. The only dragon in the world can be found on Komodo Island, named after the dragon.
Indonesian fingers bleed art in everything they create. As if the stunning temples and houses were not enough for travellers to fixate their eyes on; the stonework, woodwork and paintings created by these amazingly talented locals will certainly blow you away! Hang out with the magicians of art, woodwork and stonework galleries in Ubud and Seminyak in Bali.
Of course, Indonesia offers a wide choice of sun basking destinations! You can imagine the number and variety of beaches by the fact that this ‘Jamaica of Asia’ has more than 17,000 islands. Nusa Dua is great for those who love to swim while Jimbaran being more private with its beach cafes is ideal for honeymoon couples. If you want some hustle bustle, Seminyak is recommended for its restaurants and shopping.
If you are more of a mountain person than a beach bum, I feel you! Indonesia is a dream destination for rock climbers and mountain hikers. If you’ve always wanted to hike up a volcano, look no further. Because of the country’s location at the meeting point of three tectonic plates—the Australian, Eurasian and Pacific plates, it’s home to numerous volcanoes. Mount Agung and Batur in Bali, Kerinci in Sumatra and Bromo in Java are some of the popular peaks for hiking.
P.S.- A review of one of the best resorts in Bali, Ayana. https://happyhippie.blog/2018/03/05/the-ayana-resort-rimba-jimbaran-bali/