Sulawesi, Balim Valley, Java
on the Bali festival preparation image to enter this gallery of Bali
Bali is Indonesia's most interesting island but the chill-out ambience is beginning to disappear under a tsunami of uncontrolled concrete and brick, replacing spirituality with greed, temples with mega hotels, festivals with raves and
terraced rice fields with car parks.
However, the worldwide recession has put the dampers on development while the classic Bali attractions are still in place: big, warm beaches,
grumbling volcanoes, terrific cuisine, art, dance, music - if you like it discordant - and friendly people, though they're not as relaxed as they used to be.
Kuta and Legian are the island's most famous beaches though Jimbaran and Nusa Dua are terrific for resort hotel holidaymakers.
main attraction, the spectacular temple, statues and carvings of Borobudur,
Muslim Java is altogether busier and less beautiful, particularly
the unattractive capital of Jakarta, though Borobudur is worth
an effort to see, the tea plantations are luscious and calming while Jogjakarta (also known as Yogyakarta, Yogya and Jogja) offers the best displays of Javanese culture, arts and traditions.
For real, off-planet oddity see pictures
of Sulawesi island's pastoral life, strange homes, wacky funeral ceremonies and curious burial systems.
Toraja (Toraja Land) area of Indonesia's Sulawesi island looks like
a picture postcard of Nature's Ideal Home. Terraced rice fields
carpet the ground, limestone cliffs form the walls and
winged, bamboo-thatched buildings on stilts provide the exotic decor. Each village encompasses one extended family, mostly Christian but with some added and very curious Animistic beliefs.
...head for Indonesia's most primitive attraction, the wet and weird Baliem (Balim) Valley in West Papua.
most colourful and photogenic part of Indonesia's Baliem experience
is Dani fashion.
The well-travelled Dani male - outside the central
town of Wamena - wears feathers in his hair, pig fat mixed with soot
over the upper body, face and hair, and an enormous, inconvenient penis gourd. Curly or straight, the koteca is 30 -50 cm
long, light brown and held erect by one string around the waist
and one around the scrotum. Pig tusks through the nose, war paint
and a bundle of spears are optional extras.
We have no photos of Kalimantan.
Making up 2/3 of Borneo island (Malaysia and tiny Brunei control 1/3), Kalimantan is a large but little-touristed mass of mountains, wild rivers, primitive cultures, curious beasts and tropical forests, though the last three have been under attack for decades by Indonesia's illegal logging and mining industries.
best time to be in tropical Indonesia is in the dry season April
- September. Other months may have rains, wind, rough seas, sea-weedy
sand and oppressive humidity.
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