Indonesia Pictures, best places
Java’s main attraction, the spectacular temple, statues and carvings of Borobudur, Indonesia. Photo by Uwe Aranas.
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 though it suffered badly in an earthquake a few years ago.
Visit Tana Torajah, Sulawesi
A traditional Sulawesi village, with menhirs.
For real, off-planet oddity check out Sulawesi island’s pastoral life in Tana Toraja, strange homes, wacky funeral ceremonies and curious burial systems.
The Tana 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 that come to life during their expensive, extended, extraordinary funerals.
Sulawesi also offers the adventurous tourist volcanoes, waterfalls, caves and a huge bio-diversity on both land and water and some claim this island and its 6,000 km coastline of abyssal trenches and sheer drop-offs near the coast is home to the best diving in the world.
Strong currents rise from the ocean depths, bringing nutrient-rich water close to shore. This creates one of the most beautiful coral environments in the world which, together with the amazing array of macro-life, are the main drawcards that prompt many loyal scuba divers to return frequently to dive in Sulawesi year after year.
What’s more, the coral reefs and walls are generally found close to the shoreline of the main island and the shores of the sprinkling of smaller islands that lie in the bays formed by Sulawesi’s protective finger-like peninsulas. This makes the island well suited to resort stays since accommodations have excellent access to the dive sites. The plethora of properties on the tourist market makes finding affordable and great value-for-money places to stay a cinch.
Visit the Baliem Valley, West Papua
Discussing soccer with a Balim (Baliem) valley chieftan.
The wet and weird Baliem (Balim) Valley in West Papua (Western New Guinea) is Indonesia’s most primitive attraction, including the most colourful and photogenic part of Indonesia’s Baliem experience, 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.
The top of Mount Kinabalu in Kalimantan (part on Indonesian Borneo). Kinabalu is a tough but popular climb. Photo by Lotte Mae.
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.