I’ll try to describe what is actually almost impossible to describe – finally I fulfilled my dream of traveling halfway across the world to Indonesia and joined a group with people of different ages and backgrounds. The journey took 17 days. 17 days that enriched my life in many ways. But let’s start from the beginning:
You might think that a 12-hour flight to a country far, far away on an exotic continent would scare people away. But the opportunity to join an organized group travel through Indonesia made me forget all my worries and I hopped right onto the plane. It turned out to be quite enjoyable, thanks to the incredibly nice and welcoming flight attendants on my flight from Frankfurt to Indonesia. Every hour passing by, my anticipation towards my journey increased and when I finally landed, I almost couldn’t take it anymore.
After a short stopover in Singapore and a first contact with our nice Studiosus tour guide we continued on with Silk Air to Medan. At the very beginning I was already totally impressed by the beautiful surroundings. I couldn’t yet imagine that this was later topped by a delicious dinner. My Indonesian adventure started right from the beginning like I always dreamed. With the very first meal I had in Indonesia already being this delicious, you might imagine what awaited me on my journey. Learning more about Islamic culture in the big mosque of Medan, visiting traditional native Indonesian villages – enjoying a cooling and refreshing bath at the beautiful Tobs lake in the afternoon, and strolling across a traditional fruit market. A lot of things to do in just two days, isn’t it?
Jakarta – Metropolis in South East Asia
From the very start I especially looked forward to Jakarta. The metropolis is totally loaded with energy which makes sense considering the population number of more than ten million people. It is incredible to see, how many contrasting impressions you are confronted with in Jakarta. On one hand, you’ll see incredible high-rising buildings everywhere, which will give you neck-pains when you’re trying to see their apexes, on the other hand you have traditional Prahus, wooden transport gilders which sail on the Ciliwung. Additionally, you’ll see small bamboo huts and traditional temples everywhere. Other remarkable places are the sultan palace and the water castle Taman Sari which manage to impress because of their old Javanese traditions that attract numerous visitors every year. After a cultural stop in the Sonobudoyo museum and a little lunch, my group and I we went on to Kota Grede where we visited a traditional Indonesian batik workshop. It is really astonishing how the natives mastered their crafts! This day was also over way too quickly, but I wasn’t sad because of everything that was still ahead of me. The next morning, we visited the Borobudur temple, the biggest Buddhist sanctum of the world.
At the temple, we found over 1400 impressive reliefs which told the story of Buddha’s way to enlightenment, surrounded by impressive stone Buddha figurines and statues. During the following afternoon with some time off, we bought some souvenirs for our families and friends, strolled through the shops and took a refreshing dive into the hotel pool. At a Ramayana ballet, followed by a dinner featuring Javanese delicacies, we let the day go past and gathered some new energy for the coming, eventful days. We had a full program with a trip to the Prambanan temple – a real masterpiece of stonemasonry by the way -, with walks through Surakarta, a four-hour train journey to Mojokerto, an enjoyable bus ride that took almost the same time and an exciting night near the Bromo crater. The long route to the highland was definitely worth the time it took to get there, because the next morning was one of the calmest I’ve ever had. Right when most Indonesians were still fast asleep at home, we observed the quiet a breath-taking, fantastic and beautiful sunrise at the volcano.
After a filling and delicious breakfast, we went on to the inner-areas of the island, more precisely to the small town of Ubud. There we saw the royal tombs of Gunung Kawi, the elephant grot Goa Gajah and the saint sources of Tirta Empul. I captured every single moment with my senses and my camera. Without physical proof, I would still believe it was a dream – that’s how beautiful it was! Our last two days in Indonesia were not less exciting and filled with a great variety of activities. First, we approached the fire mountain Caldera. The tour continued on to Agung and after that to maybe the most impressive of all Balinese temples, the Pura Besakih. In search of ancient demons, we approached the Tanah-Lot, but luckily for us, they didn’t seem to be home, so we tried to find them in the temple complex Taman Ayun. Although we have never met the ghosts themselves, our trip guide didn’t promise too much: Totally fascinated and speechless we listened to her explanations of Indonesian and Balinese History which gave us some great insights about traditions and the culture.
Occasionally, a jump in the sea and a cooling drink at one of the numerous beach bars which were built in the typical Indonesian style was very much appreciated. Even as we had to say goodbye on the 16th day of our journey with a heavy heart towards Indonesia and its beautiful scenery, we benefited the last time from a last cultural trip through Bali, we tried the typical foods for a last time and we went alone without our guide to the Ulu-Watu temple which is located high over the rocks.
Back at home I still can’t believe that the journey is over already. I gathered so many new impressions, I learned so much about the Indonesian religion and culture and still I know very little of this country. Indonesia offers so much that it would take weeks, or even months, to discover all the monuments, sanctuaries and other attractions. In a retroperspective view I cannot put in words what I liked the most in Indonesia. The impressive temples? The nice ad helpful population? The totally tasty meals? The beautiful nature? Or maybe a little bit of everything? That for sure: I am still very impressed by my countless experiences and I’m full of memories which have changed my view of the world and life on this beautiful earth.
Further qualified information about Indonesia (in German) Indonesien. (MARCO POLO Reiseführer Bali, Lombok, Gilis: Reisen mit Insider-Tipps. Mit EXTRA Faltkarte & Reiseatlas)
6 journeys in 2018