An Archipelago of Islands, all with varying landscapes, bustling cities, calm beaches, a cauldron where different cultures from all around the world brew in and an army of sleeping yet active volcanoes – That’s Indonesia for you. Our exploration trip of Indonesia, which was facilitated by Garuda Indonesia Airlines and Diorama Travel Management (DTM) took us through this amazing nation which seems to be a small planet in itself. Be it the lively streets of Jakarta, or the forests of Borneo and Ubud, the scenic beaches of Bali or the much intriguing Balinese-Hinduism which is depicted in the Candi temples – You have it all in Indonesia. We took the opportunity of compiling our detailed itinerary with some Indonesian travel add-ones, so sit back and enjoy this treat!
Experience Buzzing Jakarta
Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, seems to me like a melting pot of the world’s cultures in the true sense. A dynamic city with its round-the-clock bustling streets, exotic markets, some of the best dine-outs, street corners filled with local vendors, to the much urban part of the city with extensive museums and gigantic malls- which sell literally everything from the markets Singapore to London. If one wanders through the streets of Jakarta, one is bound to be struck by the mixture of cultures, beliefs and cuisines that all these people, hailing to the city from all these Islands, bring to the capital. Though, quite an urban city owing to the existing façade of hi-rises, Jakarta still majorly belongs to the humble crowd of the streets who are extremely hospitable and are good natured.
After landing at the international airport at Jakarta around 11 am, I met my local tour guide who helped me with my transit to the city of Bandung from Jakarta. We took the Cipularang Highway to get to the city of Bandung.
Shopping at Bandung
Another major city of Indonesia, Bandung offers itself as a shopping and market paradise. Known for its shopping avenues, extremely strong and good coffee and hence the best cafes in town. We went around to explore the city and some prime highlights.
The Gedung Satay – One of the most important public buildings of Bandung, The Gedung Satay, is a prime example of the architectural finesse in Bandung. As per my guide, a Dutch architect- J.Gerber, had designed this building incorporating native Indonesian style with Dutch architecture- much as like the Neoclassical era of architecture. The building’s central part resembles the
much famous Indonesian dish- ‘Satay’. Hence the name also literallytranslates to ‘Satay Building’.
Cihampelas Street- One of the highlights of Bandung, The Cihampelas street is a must on every traveller’s list. With an array of shops and outlets, selling almost everything, one can
see huge action figurines sticking out of the walls of these shops. After walking a while in these streets, we headed straight to the factory outlets in Riau Street, Rumah mode. For a budgeted traveller, you can shop for a wide variety of clothes, souvenirs and collectibles.
At around 1pm, we headed straight to the Sederhana Restaurant to have a hearty Indonesian lunch. Post my lunch; I was assisted in checking into my hotel – The Harris Ciumbulent Hotel in Baldung. An esteemed
4- star property which is located on the fringes of the city.The Harris Ciumbuleuit Bandung is located in north Bandung, only 30 minutes from the ‘HuseinSastranegara International Airport’ and 15 minutes from Bandung Train Station. With stunning views of ‘TangkubanPerahu’ mountain from the hotel's Sky Lounge, the hotel is equipped 210 rooms
and suites, a fun kid’s Club, a multicuisine cafe, Juice Bar and a rejuvenating Spa. I had a wonderful round of afternoon tea with the Manager of the Harris Ciumbulent Hotel. A brief interview with him and a tour of the hotel and my dinner followed at the Kampiun restaurant of the hotel.
After my breakfast at the hotel, I checked out of the hotel. I took a flight out of Bandung city to Denpasar on the Bali Island. I arrived Bali at 9:15 am and was attended by my tour guide from Bali. We straightaway headed onto the Ubud& Tanah Lot Temple Tour. The Ubud and Tanah Lot temple tour comprises of some prime spots which we managed to witness.
*Celuk Village and Mas Village : The Celuk Village has a gold and silver gallery where I saw the artisans at work. At the Mas village, there were some beautiful, intricate wooden handicrafts. We met the local artisans who were at this fascinating art which depict modern interpretations of the Balinese art form.
*BantuanVillage and the MengwiVillage : The Bantuan Village tour was a special experience for me as it gave me an insight into the traditional Balinese culture being depicted in the houses, with the traditional compounds and the entire architecture. The Mengwi Village is the site of the Royal Family temple and hence attracts a lot of tourists who are on the way to Ubud.
*Tanah Lot : The Tanah Lot is a prime tourist attraction in Bali as it is the home to a pilgrimage temple – The Pura Tanah Lot. The whole temple is actually made of a rock formation off the Island, floating on the sea. It is believed to be built in the early 15th century under the guidance of the priest called Nirartha. The temple is a beautiful work of art and speaks of the Balinese-Hinduism culture in this region.
After a while, we went onto have a much-needed Indian lunch at the Indian Delites restaurant. Post lunch, I checked into my hotel- The Akana Boutique resort. It’s a beautiful property and truly rejuvenates you in every sense.With just 36 rooms styled to perfect every travel needs of a traveller, this boutique Bali hotel is the perfect place to experience Bali and its many delights. With a private beach and a pebbled pathway, you won’t feel like leaving the hotel even!
Picturesque and Mesmerising BALI
Bali has a way of getting into your skin and make one feel extremely elated and relaxed. After a night of good rest, I woke up to a grand breakfast in my room. With the hotel room having such a serene view, I took some time to unwind and have a lazy breakfast. Post breakfast, I headed out for a day of adventure in Bali. The hotel provided me with a car that took me to Taro Village which is the prime spot of ‘white-water rafting’ in Bali and is the starting point for the same. The adventure sport of White-water rafting is done on the Ayung River which has some serious curves and gorges, and hence rafting through its waters can be a great source of thrill. With a wide array of age groups allowed onto the rafts, this rafting goes on for a total of 9.6kms stretch of the Ayung River. This stretch has a total of 33, class 1 and 2 rapids, which make this adventure quite exhilarating yet safe at all times. There are skilled guides and rafters who assist with this sport, but I recommend that the whole family should go for one!
Post my rafting adventure, I proceeded onto the Ubud Markets for a much needed lunch. I had a lip-smacking Indonesian lunch at the Bale Udang Restaurant, which my guide had suggested. Following my lunch, I took a leisurely walk through the Ubud Markets and the surrounding areas which have some great local shops selling cheap sarongs, Island collectibles and great wooden handicrafts. After a session of High tea at the Suarti Resort at Ubud, I retired for the day.
Take a Leisure Stroll at YOGAYAKARTA
The next day, after a breakfast of fresh fruits and local bread at the hotel, I headed onto catch my flight to the city of Yogayakarta. Upon collecting my luggage, I met my local tour guide who was ready with my car and we straightaway headed onto exploring Yogayakarta.
Yogayakarta,is considered to be Indonesia’s Soul-city. Being a hub of the nation’s intellectual and artistic heritage, the city’s name Yogayakarta is mostly pronounced as ‘Jogja’. This city is run by its own principles, culture and relevant customs which make up the lives of its inhabitants. There are cultural attractions at various points in this city, besides having an urban side to it as well. The restaurants are small, locally run but have the most amazing Indonesian food, while the hotels here are a lot cheaper. Our city-tour included visits to some prime attraction sites in the city. Here are they:-
• Mendut, Borobudur and PawonTemple : The temples of Mendut, Borobudur and Pawon are all Buddhist temples which are located in the sub-district of Mungkid in the Magelang Regency. Interestingly, all the three Buddhist temples of Mendut, Borobudur and Pawon fall in a straight line when seen on a map. Historians believe that these temples have some sort of a mutual relationship to one another, but no one has been able to throw much light on this topic. The temple of Mendut is the oldest out of all the three temples. One of the cultural rituals in this area is to walk from the temple of Mendut, passing the temple of Pawon and reaching the temple of Borobudur, on a full moon in the months of May or June in order to observe ‘Vesak’. The ritual includes a ‘Pradakshina’ or a mass Buddhist prayer around each temple.
• MalioboroStreet:After a quiet, spiritual journey which started at the Mendut Temple and ended at the Pawon Temple, my guide took me to the famous Malioborostreet. It is one of the biggest and acclaimed shopping promenades in the area which is frequented by locals and visited by every foreigner. A 2kms long market with hundreds of stalls, boutiques and shops, offering and selling everything from textile, clothes, local handicrafts, masks, shadow puppets and souvenirs. If you wish to purchase Batik-art items please make sure you ask the guide to take you to an authentic Batik store.
After a while of emptying my pockets and filling my shopping bags, I finally had lunch at the Borobudur Silver restaurant, which was suggested by my hotel manager. I literally hogged on the sumptuous delicacies here, and headed out to check-into my hotel in Yogayakarta- SWISS-BEL Hotel (Yogayakarta) – a newest 4* Del
Back in jakarta
After days of travelling through the major cities of Indonesia, it was time for me to retire to the capital city of Jakarta for one-last city tour before I took that flight back home. I checked out of the hotel at Yogyakarta and took a flight back to Jakarta. I met the same tour guide who had initially received me at Jakarta, and he took me for a fascinating tour of the Old and New Jakarta. We went on a drive throughout the city of Jakarta and stopped at some prominent stops, some of which are :
Fatahillah Square: The Fatahillah square lies in the Old city of Jakarta and was formerly known as ‘Batavia City Square’. It houses the famous Jakarta History Museum and the Fine arts and Ceramic Museum, the latter being a treat to visit in the short time.
Glodok : This is the Chinatown of Jakarta, and what makes it special is the fact that this is the largest China-town region in the whole country and stands to be one of the largest in the world.
Merdeka Square: The prime heritage monument of Jakarta is the Merdeka Square which is home to the Merdeka Palace, the presidential palace for the nation.
Taman Mini-Indonesia Indah : The ‘Taman Mini-Indonesia Indah’ literally translates to ‘Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park’ and is located in the eastern part of Jakarta. It is a cultural-recreational park which is a must visit in Jakarta, as it lets you have an insight into the myriad of cultures, the extensive historical timeline and the life of Indonesia.
After gladly completing my tour of this beautiful scenic city, I retire to my hotel- The BEST WESTERN PLUS Kemayoranwhich is located in the heart of central Jakarta. The hotel’s architecture is par excellence and gives you nostalgia for Indonesia for days when you are back home. Great customer service, beautiful and comfortable suites are sure to make your stay as comfortable as it can get. I wentfor one last sumptuous Indonesian meal and pack my day with a good night’s rest.
I get a wakeup call from my hotel staff, who wouldn’t let me leave without a proper breakfast. I finally head out to the International airport at Jakarta to board my flight to Bombay. Carrying a hundred Polaroid photos, a diary full of travel memoirs and postcards from every spot. Besides, all the glitz, luxury and adventure- if there’s one thing that Indonesia and its people taught me- it’s Humility.
As said by my tour guide at Bali –“No matter if you are rich or poor, able or else, its our duty to give back to the society which in turn gives us the gift of Humility”