This page is divided into two sections. The first section contains general information about Indonesia and the second part contains information about all the places I have been to in Indonesia. Here are some pictures from my vacation on Bali.
General information about Indonesia
Indonesia is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. It consists of approximately 17,508 islands scattered over both sides of the equator and has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country after China, India and the USA - and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Indonesia also has the largest Muslim population in the world. Hindus are concentrated on Bali, while Christians are found mostly in parts of North Sumatra, Papua, North Sulawesi, and East Nusa Tenggara. Buddhism, on the other hand, is mainly practised by the ethnic Chinese in the larger cities. There are also pockets of animism throughout the country, and many strict Muslims decry the casual Indonesian incorporation of animistic rites into the practices of notionally Islamic believers. Indonesian national law decrees that all citizens of the Republic must declare their religion and that the declared religion must be one of the five that are officially sanctioned by the state. Multicultural Indonesia celebrates a vast range of religious holidays and festivals, but many are limited to small areas.
About 6,000 of the islands in Indonesia are inhabited. Indonesia is a republic, with an elected legislature and president. Jakarta is the capital of Indonesia. The country shares land borders with Papua New Guinea, East Timor, and Malaysia. Other neighboring countries include Singapore, Philippines, Australia, and the Indian territory of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Indonesia is a founding member of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and a member of the G-20 major economies. The Indonesian economy is the world's seventeenth largest economy by nominal GDP and fifteenth largest by purchasing power parity. In 2010 Indonesia had a larger growth in its economy than China. Indonesia's location on the edges of the Pacific, Eurasian and Australian tectonic plates makes it the site of numerous volcanoes and frequent earthquakes. The country has at least 150 active volcanoes, including Krakatoa and Tambora, both famous for their devastating eruptions in the 19th century. The eruption of the Toba super volcano, approximately 70,000 years ago, was one of the largest eruptions ever, and a global catastrophe. Recent disasters due to seismic activity include the 2004 tsunami that killed an prox. 170.000 in northern Sumatra, and the Yogyakarta earthquake in 2006. However, volcanic ash is a major contributor to the high agricultural fertility that has historically sustained the high population densities of Java and Bali. Indonesia's tropical forests are the second-largest in the world after Brazil, and are being logged and cut down at the same alarming speed. Lying along the equator, Indonesia has a tropical climate, with two distinct monsoonal wet and dry seasons. Average annual rainfall in the lowlands varies from 1,780–3,175 millimeters (70–125 in), and up to 6,100 millimeters (240 in) in mountainous regions. Mountainous areas - particularly in the west coast of Sumatra, West Java, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, and Papua - receive the highest rainfall. Humidity is generally high, averaging about 80%. Temperatures vary little throughout the year; the average daily temperature range of Jakarta is 26–30 °C (79–86 °F). Since the country is very large, Indonesia is divided into three time zones; GMT +7: Western Indonesian Time, GMT +8: Central Indonesian Time and GMT +9: Eastern Indonesian Time.
The Indonesian islands has been an important trade region since at least the 7th century, when Srivijaya and then later Majapahit traded with China and India. Local rulers gradually absorbed foreign cultural, religious and political models from the early centuries, and Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms flourished. Indonesian history has been influenced by foreign powers drawn to its natural resources. Muslim traders brought Islam, and European powers brought Christianity and fought one another to monopolize trade in the Spice Islands of Maluku during the Age of Discovery. The first regular contact between Europeans and the peoples of Indonesia began in 1512, when Portuguese traders, led by Francisco Serrão, settled in Indonesia. Following three and a half centuries of Dutch colonialism, Indonesia secured its independence after World War II. Two days after the surrender of Japan in August 1945, Sukarno, an influential nationalist leader, declared independence and was appointed president. The Netherlands tried to reestablish their rule, and an armed and diplomatic struggle ended in December 1949, when in the face of international pressure, the Dutch formally recognized Indonesian independence (with the exception of the Dutch territory of West New Guinea, which was incorporated into Indonesia following the 1962 New York Agreement, and the UN-mandated Act of Free Choice of 1969).
Indonesia's history has since been turbulent, with challenges posed by natural disasters, corruption, separatism, a democratization process, and periods of rapid economic change. Indonesia was the country hardest hit by the late 1990s Asian financial crisis. This increased popular discontent with the New Order and led to popular protest across the country. Suharto resigned on 21 May 1998. In 1999, East Timor voted to secede from Indonesia, after a twenty-five-year military occupation that was marked by international condemnation of repression of the East Timorese. Since Suharto's resignation, a strengthening of democratic processes has included a regional autonomy program, and the first direct presidential election in 2004. Political and economic instability, social unrest, corruption, and terrorism slowed progress, however, in the last five years the economy has performed strongly. Although relations among different religious and ethnic groups are largely harmonious, sectarian discontent and violence has occurred. A political settlement to an armed separatist conflict in Aceh was achieved in 2005. Across its many islands, Indonesia consists of distinct ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups. The Javanese are the largest - and the politically dominant - ethnic group. Indonesia has developed a shared identity defined by a national language, ethnic diversity, religious pluralism within a majority Muslim population, and a history of colonialism and rebellion against it. Indonesia's national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, articulates the diversity that shapes the country. Despite its large population and densely populated regions, Indonesia has vast areas of wilderness that support the world's second highest level of biodiversity. The country is richly endowed with natural resources, yet poverty remains widespread.
Indonesian is the official langiage of Indonesia. It is a standardized form of the Riau dialect of the Malay language, an Austronesian language which has been used as a lingua franca in the Indonesian archipelago for centuries. Most Indonesians, aside from speaking the national language, are often fluent in another regional language which are commonly used at home and within the local community. There are more than 700 different languages and dialects in Indonesia so a need for a nationwide language understood by everyone is obvious. On Bali basic English is understood by most people and I imagine its tha same all over Indonesia. There are around 300 distinct native ethnicities in Indonesia, and 742 different languages and dialects. Most Indonesians are descended from Austronesian-speaking peoples whose languages can be traced to Proto-Austronesian (PAn) languages, which possibly originated in Taiwan. Another major grouping are Melanesians, who inhabit eastern Indonesia. The largest ethnic group is the Javanese, who comprise 42% of the population, and are politically and culturally dominant. The Sundanese, ethnic Malays, and Madurese are the largest non-Javanese groups. A sense of Indonesian nationhood exists alongside strong regional identities. Society is largely harmonious, although social, religious and ethnic tensions have triggered horrendous violence. Chinese Indonesiansare an influential ethnic minority comprising 3–4% of the population. Much of the country's privately owned commerce and wealth is Chinese-Indonesian-controlled, which has contributed to considerable resentment, and even anti-Chinese violence. In contrast to Sukarno's anti-imperialistic antipathy to western powers and tensions with Malaysia, Indonesia's foreign relations since the Suharto "New Order" have been based on economic and political cooperation with Western nations. Indonesia maintains close relationships with its neighbours in Asia, and is a founding member of ASEAN and the East Asia Summit. The nation restored relations with the People's Republic of China in 1990 following a freeze in place since anti-communist purges early in the Suharto era. Indonesia has been a member of the United Nations since 1950, and was a founder of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC, now the Organization of Islamic Cooperation). Indonesia is signatory to the ASEAN Free Trade Area agreement, the Cairns Group, and the WTO, and has historically been a member of OPEC, although it withdrew in 2008 as it was no longer a net exporter of oil. Indonesia has received humanitarian and development aid since 1966, in particular from the United States, western Europe, Australia, and Japan.
Indonesia's size, tropical climate, and archipelagic geography, support the world's second highest level of biodiversity, and its flora and fauna is a mixture of Asian and Australasianspecies. Forests cover approximately 60% of the country. Indonesia's high population and rapid industrialization present serious environmental issues, which are often given a lower priority due to high poverty levels and weak, under-resourced governance. Issues include large-scale deforestation (much of it illegal) and related wildfires causing heavy smog over parts of western Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore; over-exploitation of marine resources; and environmental problems associated with rapid urbanization and economic development, including air pollution, traffic congestion, garbage management, and reliable water and waste water services. By and large (hawkers and touts don't count), Indonesians are a polite people and adopting a few local conventions will go a long way to smooth your stay.One general tip for getting by in Indonesia is that saving face is extremely important in Indonesian culture. If you should get into a dispute with a vendor, government official etc, forget trying to argue or 'win'. Better results will be gained by remaining polite and humble at all times, never raising your voice, and smiling, asking the person to help you find a solution to the problem. Rarely, if ever, is it appropriate to try to blame, or accuse. When meeting someone, be it for the first time ever or just the first time that day, it is common to shake hands — but in Indonesia this is no knuckle-crusher, just a light touching of the palms, often followed by bringing your hand to your chest. Meetings often start and end with everybody shaking hands with everybody! However, don't try to shake hands with a Muslim woman unless she offers her hand first. It is respectful to bend slightly (not a complete bow) when greeting someone older or in a position of authority. Never use your left hand for anything! It is considered very rude. This is especially true when you are shaking hands or handing something to someone. It can be hard to get used to, especially if you are left handed. However, sometimes special greetings are given with both hands.
Don't point someone with your finger, if you want point someone or something it is better use your right thumb, or with a fully open hand. Polite forms of address for people you don't know are Bapak ("father") for men and Ibu ("mother") for women. If you know the name of the person you're talking to, you can address them respectfully as Pak Name (for men) or Bu Name (for women). The Javanese terms mas ("older brother") and mbak ("older sister") are also heard, but best reserved for equals, not superiors. When referring to others, it is best to mention by name rather than "dia" ("he/she"). Using their name signifies openness (so as if not to talk of them secretly) and acknowledgment. Remove your shoes or sandals outside before entering a house, unless the owner explicitly allows you to keep them on. Even then, it might be more polite to remove your shoes.
Do not put your feet up while sitting and try not to show the bottom of your feet to someone, it is considered rude. Don't walk in front of people, instead walk behind them. When others are sitting, while walking around them, it is customary to bow slightly and lower a hand to "cut" through the crowd; avoid standing upright. Do not stand or sit with your arms crossed or on your hips. This is a sign of anger or hostility. If a guest, it is not polite to finish any drink all the way to the bottom of the glass. This indicates that you would like more. Instead, leave about a half of an inch/2cm in the bottom of your glass and someone will most likely ask you if you would like more. And if all this seems terribly complex, don't worry about it too much — Indonesians are an easy-going bunch and don't expect foreigners to know or understand intricacies of etiquette. If you're wondering about a person's reaction or you see any peculiar gesture you don't understand, they will appreciate it if you ask them directly (casually later, in a friendly and humble manner), rather than ignoring it. In general such a question is more than an apology; it shows trust. By and large, Indonesia is a conservative country and modest dress is advisable. On the beaches of Bali and Lombok, the locals are used to foreigners gambling about in bikinis, but elsewhere women are advised to keep legs and necklines covered and to match the locals when bathing. Wearing shorts, miniskirts etc is unlikely to cause actual offense, but clothing like this is associated with sex workers. Men, too, can gain respect by wearing collared, long-sleeve shirts and trousers if dealing with bureaucracy.
Travel to Indonesia
The three main international airports are Soekarno-Hatta (CGK) at Tangerang, near the capital Jakarta, Ngurah Rai (DPS) at the capital on Bali, Denpasar and Juanda (SUB) at Surabaya on East Java. There are however many cities which have air links with Singapore and Malaysia which can be interesting and convenient entry points into Indonesia. Ferries connect Indonesia with Singapore and Malaysia. Most connections are between ports in Sumatra (mostly in Riau and Riau Islands provinces) and those in Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, although there is also a ferry service between Malaysia's Sabah state with East Kalimantan on Borneo. Onward boat connections to Jakarta and other Indonesian islands are available from these ports. See the pages for each city for more details. If you try to enter Indonesia from land it is not guaranteed that you will be able to enter Indonesia through these crossings and non-Indonesians are required to apply for visas at the nearest Indonesian Embassy or Consulate.
Travelling within Indonesia
The only rapid means of long-distance travel within Indonesia is the plane. The largest domestic carriers are state-owned Garuda and private competitor Lion Air, but in recent years a host of low-cost competitors have sprung up, including Indonesia Air Asia, Batavia Air, Mandala and many more. Many carriers have poor on-time records and frequent cancellations, and the safety record of the smaller companies is dubious, with Adam Air, Lion Air and Mandala suffering fatal crashes in recent years. Prices are low by international standards, with more or less any domestic return flight available for under US$100 even on short notice, and fares for a fraction of that if you plan ahead. Indonesia is all islands and consequently ferries have long been the most popular means of inter-island travel. The largest company is PELNI, whose giant ferries visit practically every inhabited island in Indonesia on lengthy journeys that can take two weeks from end to end. PELNI uses European-built boats, which are large enough to deal with rough seas, but they can still be uncomfortably overcrowded during peak seasons: ferries built for 3000 have been known to board 7000. This means that there are often not enough lifeboats in the event of a sinking and could pose a potential safety hazard. In addition to PELNI's slow boats, ASDP runs fast ferries (Kapal Ferry Cepat, rather amusingly abbreviated KFC) on a number of popular routes. Both PELNI and ASDP tickets can be booked via travel agents. Last but not least, there are also countless services running short island-to-island hops, including Merak-Bakauheni (hourly) from Java to Sumatra, Ketapang-Gilimanuk (every 15 min) between Java and Bali and Padangbai-Lembar (near-hourly) between Bali and Lombok. In general, schedules are notional, creature comforts sparse and safety records poor. Try to scout out what, if any, safety devices are on board and consider postponing your trip if the weather looks bad. As maintenance is poor and overloading is common, sinkings are all too common on ferries run by smaller companies, so try to stick to the larger ones if possible. Food on ferries varies from bad to inedible, and journey times can stretch well beyond the schedule, so bring along enough to tide you over even if the engine stalls and you end up drifting for an extra day. You may get hassled by people onboard trying to extract extra money under some dubious excuse. Feel free to ignore them, although on the upside, it may be possible to bribe your way to a better class of accommodation. If you have planned to travel by train PT Kereta Apiruns trains across most of Java and some parts of Sumatra. The network was originally built by the Dutch, and few new lines have been built since the Independence. Double-tracking of the most congested lines have been done, though, and is still ongoing. Maintenance is spotty and derailments and crashes occur occasionally.
The major types of buses are air-conditioned bus (AC) nd non-air-conditioned bus (non-AC or "economy class"). The air-conditioned chartered buses can be rented with its drivers for a tourist group. Indonesian bus companies offer intercity and interprovince routes. The interprovince routes usually include transportation to other islands mainly between Java and Sumatra. Bus maintenance is poor, and drivers are often drunk, on drugs or just reckless. Long, overnight journeys are particularly dangerous. Guard your bags like a hawk. In the wilder parts of the country (notably South Sumatra), interprovince buses are occasionally ambushed by bandits. Indonesian driving habits are generally extremely dangerous. Lanes and traffic lights are happily ignored, passing habits are suicidal and driving on the road shoulder is common. Traffic is required to move on the left in Indonesia. Traveling by taxi in Indonesia Blue bird taxis is the safest choice. If you use someone else, or taxi in general, be sure they use the meter. If not its a big risk involved. considered the big possibility they will try to scam you.
Places to sleep
Accommodation in Singapore is expensive by South-East Asian standards. Particularly in the higher price brackets, demand has been outstripping supply recently and during big events like the F1 race or some of the larger conventions it's not uncommon for pretty much everything to sell out. Check out Hotels.com, Booking.com for hotels and hostelworld.com for hostels. Check out Asiarooms.com as well. In popular travel destinations like Bali and Jakarta accommodation options run the gamut, from cheap backpacker guesthouses to some of the most opulent (and expensive) five-star hotels and resorts imaginable.
Money and banking
Rupiah, shortened Rp, is the official currency of Indonesia. Informally, Indonesians also use the word perak in referring to rupiah. The rupiah is subdivided into 100 sen, although inflation has rendered all coins and banknotes denominated in sen obsolete. In December 2011 Rp 9.000 ~ 1 USD. It is easier to remember, and convert, if you remember that Rp 10.000 ~ 1 USD. ATMs on the international Plus/Cirrus networksare common in all major Indonesian cities and tourist destinations, but may be harder to come by in the backblocks. Beware of withdrawal limits as low as Rp.500,000 (~US$55) per day in some machines. As a rule of thumb, machines loaded with Rp.50,000 denomination notes do not dispense more than Rp.1,500,000 per transaction even in Jakarta. Those with Rp.100,000 notes can give more, up to Rp.3,000,000 at once. Note, however, that these notes can be harder to break, especially in rural non-tourist areas. Be careful when using credit cards, as cloning and fraud are a major problem in Indonesia. Visa and Mastercard are widely accepted, but American Express can be problematic. At smaller operations, surcharges of 2-5% over cash are common. Living in Indonesia is cheap, as long as you're willing to live like an Indonesian. For example, Rp 10,000 will get you a meal on the street or a packet of cigarettes or three kilometers in a taxi or two bottles of water. But as a tourist it is often necessary to haggle and negotiate a minimum of 50%-70% off an initial asking price, otherwise you will spend your money quickly. Fancy restaurants, hotels and the like will charge 10% government sales tax plus a variable service charge. This may be denoted with "++" after the price or just written in tiny print on the bottom of the menu.
Vaccine and health
It isn't mandatory but you should take vaccines against Malaria, Yellow Fever, Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Tetanus and Polio. A certificate of vaccination may be required if entering from an country where they have Yellow Fever. Avoid drinking tap water and stick to bottled water. The bad news is that every disease known to man can be found somewhere in Indonesia — the good news is that you're probably not going to go there. Malaria prophylaxis is not necessary for Java or Bali, but is wise if traveling for extended periods in remote area of Sumatra, Borneo, Lombok or points east. Dengue fever can be contracted anywhere and using insect repellents (DEET) and mosquito nets is highly advisable. Hepatitis is also common and getting vaccinated before arriving in Indonesia is wise. Food hygiene is often questionable and getting vaccinated for hepatitis A and possibly typhoid fever is a wise precaution. See a doctor if what seems like travellers' diarrhoea does not clear up within a few days. Recent years have seen outbreaks of polio and anthrax in rural parts of Java and rabies in East Nusa Tenggara. Avian influenza (bird flu) has also made headlines, but outbreaks are sporadic and limited to people who deal with live or dead poultry in rural areas. Eating cooked chicken appears to be safe. The local Indonesian health care system is not up to western standards. While a short term stay in an Indonesian hospital or medical centre for simple health problems is probably not markedly different to a western facility, serious and critical medical emergencies will stretch the system to the limit. In fact, many rich Indonesians often choose to travel to neighbouring Singapore to receive more serious health care. If you need a specific medicine, bring the medicine in its container/bottle, if possible with the doctor's prescription. Indonesian custom inspectors may ask about the medicine. If you need additional medicine in Indonesia, bring the container to a pharmacy (apotek) and if possible mention the active ingredients of the medicine. Drugs are usually manufactured locally under different brand names, but contain the same ingredients. Be careful about the proper dosage of the medicine. For routine traveller complaints, one can often find medical doctors (dokter) in towns. These small clinics are usually walk-in, although you may face a long wait. Most clinics open in the afternoon. The emergency room (UGD) in hospitals always open. There are clinics in most hospitals. Advance payment is expected for treatment. Be warned, though, that the doctors/nurses may not speak English well enough to make an appropriate diagnosis -- be patient and take a good phrasebook or a translator with you. Ask about the name and dosage of the prescription medicine, as few doctors may oversubscribe to inflate their own cut, with antibiotics handed out like candy. Indonesia has a low HIV/AIDS prevalence rate. However, most infections are among sex workers and injecting drug users. Always protect yourself before engaging in risky activities.
Most western travellers can get a visa on arrival for US$25 or Rp 230,000 at virtually all common points of entry. There are three visas in Indonesia; Visa waiver (Show your passport, get stamped, that's it. Applies only to a few select, mostly ASEAN countries), Visa on arrival (Pay on arrival, get a visa in your passport, get it stamped. Most visitors fall in this category) and Visa in advance (Obtain a visa at an Indonesian embassy before arrival). All passports must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from the date of entry into Indonesia and have at least 2 blank pages available for stamps. One peculiarity to note is that visa-free and visa-on-arrival visitors must enter Indonesia via specific ports of entry. Entry via other ports of entry will require a visa regardless of whether you are a visa-free or visa-on-arrival national or otherwise. Customs in Indonesia is usually quite laid-back. You're allowed to bring in one liter of alcohol, 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 100 gm of tobacco products, and a reasonable quantity of perfume. Amounts of money carried in excess of 100 million Rupiah, or the equivalent in other currencies, have to be declared upon arrival or departure. In addition to the obvious drugs and guns, importing pornography and fruit, plants, meat or fish is (technically) prohibited. Indonesia imposes the death penalty on those caught bringing in drugs. All visitors entering Indonesia by way of visa-on-arrival must have a return ticket out of the country on their person when passing through immigration into the country (E-tickets are acceptable). This is checked fairly often, and visitors without one may be deported — although more commonly the problem can be solved with a suitable "fine". Read more about how to obtain Visa on imigrasi.go.id and Wikitravel.org.
The crime rate has increased in recent years, but fortunately it remains mostly non-violent and guns are rare. Robbery, theft and pickpocketing are common in Indonesia, particularly in markets, public transport and pedestrian overpasses. Avoid flashing jewellery, gold watches, MP3 players or large cameras. Thieves have been known to snatch laptops, PDAs and cell phones from Internet hotspot areas. Crime is rampant on local and long-distance public transport. Do not accept drinks from strangers, as they may be laced with drugs. Choose your taxis carefully in cities, lock doors when inside and avoid using cellular phones, MP3 players, PDAs or laptops at traffic lights or in traffic jams. Do not place valuable items in checked baggage, as they may be stolen by baggage handlers. Do not leave valuable items in an empty hotel room, and use the hotel's safe deposit box instead of the in-room safe. Do not draw large amounts of cash from banks or ATMs. Guard your belongings carefully and consider carrying a money clip instead of a wallet. Indonesia is one of the world's most corrupt countries. Officials may ask for bribes, tips or "gifts" — the Indonesian terms are uang kopi or uang rokok, literally "coffee money" and "cigarette money" — to supplement their meagre salaries; pretending you do not understand may work. Generally, being polite, smiling, asking for an official receipt for any 'fees' you are asked to pay, more politeness, more smiling, will avoid any problems. The going rate for paying your way out of small offenses (not carrying your passport, losing the departure card, minor or imaginary traffic violation, etc) is Rp 50,000 ($5.50). It's common for police to initially demand silly amounts or threaten you with going to the station, but keep cool and they'll be more reasonable. Also note that if your taxi/bus/car driver is stopped, any fine or bribe is not your problem and it's best not to get involved. (If it's clear that the police were out of line, your driver certainly won't object if you compensate him afterwards though.) Indonesia has a number of provinces where separatist movements have resorted to armed struggles, notably Aceh and Papua. In addition, sectarian strife between Muslims and Christians, as well as between the indigenous population and transmigrants from Java/Madura, continues to occur in Maluku, central parts of Sulawesi and some areas of Kalimantan.
Elections in Indonesia frequently involve rowdy demonstrations that have on occasion spiralled into violence, and the Indonesian military have also been known to employ violent measures to control or disperse protesting crowds. ravel permits (surat jalan) are required for entering conflict areas such as much of Papua and Poso and Palu in central Sulawesi. While the great majority of civil strife in Indonesia is a strictly local affair, terrorist bombings targeting Western interests have also taken place in Bali and Jakarta, mostly notably the 2002 bombing in Kuta that killed 202 people, including 161 tourists. To minimize your risk, avoid any tourist-oriented nightclub or restaurant without strong security measures in place or where parking of cars and/or motorcycles in front of the club is permitted. Nevertheless, you are far more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than in some random terrorist attack in Indonesia, so while you should be prudent, there is no need to be paranoid. Visitors are greeted with cheery "DEATH TO DRUG TRAFFICKERS" signs at airports and recent cases have seen long jail terms for simple possession and nine Australian heroin traffickers (known as the "Bali 9") are on death row in Bali awaiting execution. Other foreigners have already been executed for drug trafficking— but drugs are still widely available. If someone is offering you drugs in the streets its big possibility that they are police working undercover. Police is also co-working with kids to offer drugs so think twice before thinking about buying any illegal drugs.
Indonesian cuisine and drink
Tap water is drinkable unless indicated. Restaurants and other places selling food are visited regularly by health inspectors and are awarded points on a 1-4 "smiley scale". The ratings must be prominently displayed, so look out for the happy face when in doubt. While pollution in the major cities can be annoying it doesn't pose any risk to non-residents. Indonesian cousine is diverse, in part because Indonesia is composed of approximately 6,000 populated islands. Many regional cuisines exist, often based upon cultural and foreign influences. Indonesian cuisine varies greatly by region and has many different influences. Some popular Indonesian dishes such as nasi goreng, gado-gado, sate and soto are dishes eaten everywhere in the country and considered as Indonesian national dishes. Sumatran cuisine, for example, often has Middle Eastern and Indian influences, featuring curried meat and vegetables such as gulai and kari, while Javanese cuisine is more indigenous. The cuisines of Eastern Indonesia are similar to Polynesian and Melanesian cuisine. Elements of Chinese cuisine can be seen in Indonesian cuisine: items such as bakmi (noodles), bakso (meat or fish balls), and lumpia (spring rolls) have been completely assimilated. Indonesian meals are commonly eaten with the combination of a spoon in the right hand and fork in the left hand (to push the food onto the spoon), although in many parts of the country, such as West Java and West Sumatra, it is also common to eat with one's hands. In restaurants or households that commonly use bare hands to eat, like in seafood foodstalls, traditional Sundanese and Minangkabau restaurants, or East Javanese pecel lele (fried catfish with sambal) and ayam goreng (fried chicken) food stalls, they usually serve kobokan, a bowl of tap water with a slice of lime in it to give a fresh scent. This bowl of water should not to be consumed, however; it is used to wash one's hand before and after eating. Eating with chopsticks is generally only found in food stalls or restaurants serving Indonesian adaptations of Chinese cuisine, such as bakmie or mie ayam (chicken noodle) with pangsit (wonton), mie goreng (fried noodles), and kwetiau goreng (fried flat rice noodles). Rice is a staple for all classes in contemporary Indonesia, and it holds the central place in Indonesian culture: it shapes the landscape; is sold at markets; and is served in most meals both as a savoury and a sweet food. Spirits is extremely expensive in Indonesia. Entering Indonesia you are only allowed to bring only one bottle of liqueur and you could get a fine bringing more than this. Bintang is by far the most popular brand of beer in Indonesia. Public displays of drunkenness, however, are strongly frowned upon and in the larger cities are likely to make you a victim of crime or get you arrested by police. Do not drive if you are drunk. The legal drinking age is 18. Many Indonesians smoke like chimneys and the concepts of "no smoking" and "second-hand smoke" have yet to make much headway in most of the country. Western-style cigarettes are known as rokok putih ("white smokes") but the cigarette of choice with a 92% market share is the ubiquitous kretek, a clove-laced cigarette that has become something of a national symbol and whose scent you will likely first encounter the moment you step out of the plane into the airport. Sushi Teiis a nice dining restaurant that serves sushi and Japanese cuisine.
Places I have been to in Indonesia
Bali is an Indonesian island located in the westernmost end of the Lesser Sunda Islands, lying between Java to the west and Lombok to the east. It is one of the Indonesias 33 provinces with the provincial capital Denpasar which is situated at the southern part of the island. Arriving by airplane you are going to land at Ngurah Rai International Airport, also known as Denpasar International Airport. The airport is prox. 20 minutes by car from Denpasar. It is also possible to travel to or from other neighbour islands by boat. A coastal road surrounds the island, and three major two-lane arteries cross the central mountains at passes reaching to 1,750m in height (at Penelokan). The Ngurah Rai Bypass is a four-lane expressway that partly encircles Denpasar and enables cars to travel quickly in the heavily populated south. Be aware that there is heavy trafic and jams on this road depending on when you use it. Bali has no railway lines yet. To solve chronic traffic problems, the province will build a toll road connecting Serangan with Tohpati, a toll road connecting Kuta, Denpasar and Tohpati and a flyover connecting Kuta and Ngurah Rai Airport. Balis visibility has also drawn the unwanted attention of terrorists in 2002 and 2005. Bali has however managed to retain its magic. It is a wonderful destination with something for everyone, and though heavily travelled, it is still easy to find some peace and quiet, if you like. Bali's second-largest city is the old colonial capital, Singaraja, which is located on the north coast and is home to around 100,000 people. Other important cities include the beach resort, Kuta, which is practically part of Denpasar's urban area, and Ubud, situated in the eastern part of Bali, is the island's cultural centre. With a population recorded just below 4 million souls, the island is home to most of Indonesia's small Hindu minority. In the 2000 census about 92.29% of Bali's population adhered to Balinese Hinduism while most of the remainder follow Islam. The Balinese Hinduism Dharma, formed as a combination of existing local beliefs and Hindu influences from mainland Southeast Asia and South Asia. Balinese Hinduism is an amalgam in which gods and demigods are worshipped together with Buddhist heroes, the spirits of ancestors, indigenous agricultural deities and sacred places. Religion as it is practiced in Bali is a composite belief system that embraces not only theology, philosophy, and mythology, but ancestor worship, animism and magic. It pervades nearly every aspect of traditional life. Balinese Hinduism has roots in Indian Hinduism and in Buddhism, and adopted the animistic traditions of the indigenous people. This influence strengthened the belief that the gods and goddesses are present in all things. Every element of nature, therefore, possesses its own power, which reflects the power of the gods. A rock, tree, dagger, or woven cloth is a potential home for spirits whose energy can be directed for good or evil. Balinese Hinduism is deeply interwoven with art and ritual. Ritualizing states of self-control are a notable feature of religious expression among the people, who for this reason have become famous for their graceful and decorous behaviour. The most visible part of the religion are the tiny offerings (canang sari) found in every Balinese house, work place, restaurant, souvenir stall and airport check-in desk. Balinese Hinduism diverged from the mainstream well over 500 years ago and is quite radically different from what you would see in India. The primary deity is Sanghyang Widi Wasa, the "all-in-one god" for which other gods like Vishnu and Shiva are merely manifestations, and instead of being shown directly, he is depicted by an empty throne wrapped in the distinctive poleng black-and-white chessboard pattern and protected by a ceremonial tedung umbrella. By law all villages, cities and towns have to have at least three temples. Each having their own religious holy days there are more than 200 holy days a year on Bali. Bali is the largest tourist destination in Indonesia and is renowned for its highly developed arts and culture. Bali was inhabited by about 2000 BC by Austronesian peoples who migrated originally from Taiwan through Maritime Southeast Asia. Culturally and linguistically, the Balinese are thus closely related to the peoples of the Indonesian archipelago, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Oceania. Stone tools dating from this time have been found near the village of Cekik in the island's west. Balinese and Indonesian are the most widely spoken languages in Bali, and the vast majority of Balinese peopleare bilingual or trilingual. There are several indigenous Balinese languages, but most Balinese can also use the most widely spoken option: modern common Balinese. The usage of different Balinese languages was traditionally determined by the Balinese caste system and by clan membership, but this tradition is diminishing. Kawi and Sanskrit are also commonly used by some Hindu priests in Bali, for Hinduism literature was mostly written in Sanskrit. English is a common third language (and the primary foreign language) of many Balinese, owing to the requirements of the tourism industry. Other foreign languages, such as Chinese, Japanese, Korean, French, German or Hindi are often used in multilingual signs for foreign tourists.
Three decades ago, the Balinese economy was largely agriculture-based in terms of both output and employment. Tourism is now the largest single industry; and as a result, Bali is one of Indonesia’s wealthiest regions. About 80% of Bali's economy depends on tourism. The tourism industry is primarily focused in the south, while significant in the other parts of the island as well. The main tourist locations are the town of Kuta, and its outer suburbs of Legian and Seminyak, the east coast town of Sanur, in the centre of the island Ubud, in the south-east you have Jimbaran, along with Nusa Dua and Pecatu. Bali's tourism economy survived the terrorist bombings of 2002 and 2005, and the tourism industry has in fact slowly recovered and surpassed its pre-terrorist bombing levels; the longterm trend has been a steady increase of visitor arrivals. In ancient Bali, nine Hindu sects existed, namely Pasupata, Bhairawa, Siwa Shidanta, Waisnawa, Bodha, Brahma, Resi, Sora and Ganapatya. Each sect revered a specific deity as its personal Godhead. Balinese culture was strongly influenced by Indian, Chinese, and particularly Hindu culture, beginning around the 1st century AD. The first European contact with Bali is thought to have been made in 1585 when a Portuguese ship foundered off the Bukit Peninsula and left a few Portuguese in the service of Dewa Agung. In 1597 the Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman arrived at Bali and, with the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602, the stage was set for colonial control two and a half centuries later when Dutch control expanded across the Indonesian archipelago throughout the second half of the nineteenth century. Dutch political and economic control over Bali began in the 1840s on the island's north coast, when the Dutch pitted various distrustful Balinese realms against each other. In the late 1890s, struggles between Balinese kingdoms in the island's south were exploited by the Dutch to increase their control. Divide and conquer is something the Dutch also used in their other colonies. There are seven sea temples around the Balinese coast. Each of the sea temples were established within eyesight of the next to form a chain along the south-western coast. However, the temple had significant Hindu influence. Tanah Lot is the most famous of these ones and a popular tourist and cultural icon. The temple is situatedalmost 20 km from Denpasar. Divided among a number of ruling rajas, occasionally battling off invaders from now Islamic Java to the west and making forays to conquer Lombok to the east, the north of the island was finally captured by the Dutch colonialists in a series of brutal wars from 1846 to 1849. Southern Bali was not conquered until 1906, and eastern Bali did not surrender until 1908. In both 1906 and 1908, many Balinese chose death over disgrace and fought en-masse until the bitter end, often walking straight into Dutch cannons and gunfire. This manner of suicidal fighting to the death is known as puputan. The Dutch mounted large naval and ground assaults at the Sanur region in 1906 and were met by the thousands of members of the royal family and their followers who fought against the superior Dutch force in a suicidal puputan defensive assault rather than face the humiliation of surrender. Despite Dutch demands for surrender, an estimated 1,000 Balinese marched to their death against the invaders. In the Dutch intervention in Bali (1908), a similar massacre occurred in the face of a Dutch assault in Klungkung. Afterwards the Dutch governors were able to exercise administrative control over the island, but local control over religion and culture generally remained intact. Dutch rule over Bali came later and was never as well established as in other parts of Indonesia such as Java and Maluku. Japan occupied Bali and the rest og Indonesia during World War II. Following Japan's Pacific surrender in August 1945, the Dutch promptly returned to Indonesia, including Bali, to reinstate their pre-war colonial administration. This was resisted by the Balinese rebels now using Japanese weapons. During their occupation the Japanese had fired upon the anti-Dutch sentiment which made it impossible fore the Dutch to resettle in Indonesia. Indonesia declaired independence from the Dutch empire in August 1945 but it still took years before they got their independence. In 1949 the Netherlandsformally recognized Indonesian sovereignty.
The 1963 eruption of Mount Agung killed thousands, created economic havoc and forced many displaced Balinese to be transmigrated to other parts of Indonesia. You should really visit monunt Agung, the Mount Batur caldera and Kintamani. Espescially at sunrise this area is really amazing. On the caldera you find Penelokan, Toya Bungkah Batur and Kintamani villages. Kintamani, Batur and Penelokan villages sit on the rim of the huge Batur caldera about 1,500m above sea level, and offer dramatic views of the active volcano Mount Batur and Lake Batur. Toyo Bungkah village is at the lake edge. As well as the lake and the volcano, Kintamani is home to Pura Ulun Danu Batur, one of Bali's key nine directional temples. Making the trip to mount Batu you should also visit Taman Soekasada Ujung (Ujung Water Palace). The King of Karangesem built the Ujung Water Palace between 1912 and 1919. This King was the father of the King who built Tirta Gangga. The complex was heavily damaged by the 1963 earthquakes accompanying the eruption of Mount Agung, and more or less abandoned. Ujung Water Palace was built to welcome and to serve important guests and Kings from neighboring countries, besides for the pleasure of the King and his royal family. Between the muuntain and Ujung Water Palace is the Mother Temple of Besakih. It is the most important, the largest and holiest temple of Agama Hindu Dharma on Bali. The complex made up of twenty-two temples. It has stepped terraces and flights of stairs which ascend to a number of courtyards and brick gateways that in turn lead up to the main spire or Meru structure, which is called Pura Penataran Agung. All this is aligned along a single axis and designed to lead the spiritual person upward and closer to the mountain which is considered sacred. The main sanctuary of the complex is the Pura Penataran Agung. The symbolic center of the main sanctuary is the lotus throne or padmasana, which is therefore the ritual focus of the entire complex. The eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 threatened Puru Besakih. The lava flows barely missed the temple complex and the saving of the temple is regarded by the Balinese people as miraculous, and a signal from the gods that they wished to demonstrate their power but not destroy the monument the Balinese faithful had erected. Mentioning Mount Agung I guess I should mention the Trunyanese people as well. They are an indigenous peoplesliving in a village near Lake Batur inside the Mount Batur caldera. They are most famous for the way they treat their dead. Contrary to elsewhere in Hindu Bali (and all other places I have ever been to) the Trunyanese do not cremate or bury their dead ones. Instead, after a ritual cleansing with rain water, the body of the deceased is placed in a bamboo cage under the taru menyan tree until the forces of nature, in particular the wind, has dissolved the body tissues and only the skeleton remains. Then the skull is placed on a stairs-shaped stone altar which is located some 500 meter north of the banjar Kuban, a special place which can only be reached by boat. This ancient practice is a reminicsent of the neolithic Agama Bayu sekt, one of the six most important religious-spiritual sekts that dominated Bali during pre-Hindu times. The week before I visited the vilage they had left a deceased in the woods to be dissolved by nature. The smell of a week old corpse left in the woods is something I am not going to forget easily.
The longest river, Ayung River, flows approximately 75 km. Bali's central mountains include several peaks over 3,000 metres in elevation. The highest is Mount Agung, known as the "mother mountain" which also is an active volcano. Mountains range from centre to the eastern side of Bali, with Mount Agung the easternmost peak. Bali's volcanic nature has contributed to its exceptional fertility and its tall mountain ranges provide the high rainfall that supports the highly productive agriculture sector. South of the mountains is a broad, steadily descending area where most of Bali's large rice crop is grown. The northern side of the mountains slopes more steeply to the sea and is the main coffee producing area of the island, along with rice, vegetables and cattle. The popularity of traveling to Bali is not without its flip sides - once paradisaical Kuta used to be a popular spot for surfers but has degenerated into a congested warren of concrete, touts and scammers extracting a living by overcharging tourists. Kuta is one of the most famous and touristified part of Bali. Kuta is packed with souvernirs shops and restaurants aimed at tourists. The people working there wount take no for an answer and can be rather pushy about selling their stuff. Kuta beach is well-maintained, although the beach vendors remain annoying pushing massages, hair braiding, cigarettes and surf boards as they often tend to do elsewhere in Kuta. The long wide stretch of sand is often full of sunbathers and although most of the serious surfers have moved on to newer pastures, there are still plenty of surf dudes around at most times of the year, and especially so during peak season. If you want to party on Bali Kuta is the place to be. A bomb in 2002killed hundreds of people in Kuta and The Bali bombing memorial is a place worth visiting.
Earlier I mentioned Ubud as being the cultural centre of Bali. It is somewhat overrated as a cultural centre for a place such as Bali but its worth mentioning. Much of the town and nearby villages seems to consist of artists' workshops and galleries. There are some nice architectural and other sights to be found, and a general feeling of well being to be enjoyed, all thanks to the spirit, surroundings, and climate of the place. Puri Saren Agung is a large palace located in Ubud. The home of the last "king" of Ubud, it is now occupied by his descendants and dance performances are held in its courtyard. It was also one of Ubud's first hotels, dating back to the 1930s. On this compound you may see Kecakt, which is a traditional Balinese dance. On August 2010, the film version of Eat, Pray, Love (EPL), which starred Julia Roberts, was released in theaters. The movie was based on Elizabeth Gilbert's best-selling memoir of the same name. It took place at Ubud and Padang-Padang Beach at Bali. The 2006 book, which spent 57 weeks at the No. 1 spot on the New York Times paperback nonfiction best-seller list, has already fuelled a boom in EPL tourism in Ubud, the hill town and cultural and tourist centre that was the focus of Gilbert's quest for balance through traditional spirituality and healing that leads to love. Just outside Ubud city centre is Ubud Monkey Forest. The site is a nature reserve and temple complex. Hundreds if Crab-eating macaque monkey. The forest contains at least 115 different species of trees. The Monkey Forest contains the Pura Dalem Agung Padangtegal temple as well as a "Holy Spring" bathing temple and another temple used for cremation ceremonies. The monkeys are semi-wild and curious which means its a great chance you fill get close to them. If they start climbing on you dont make any sudden moves. Sudden moves scares them and being scared they may bite to protect themself. Monkeys on Bali have rabies so if they bite through your skin you need lots of injection to prevent you from becoming ill. While visiting the city Ubud Market is worth a visit.