Little Things That Make Indonesia So Special

One of the largest contributors to the ASEAN economy, Indonesia has made headlines for many things like volcanic eruptions, currency crisis, women’s right etc. What it hasn’t made the headlines for, is its rich cultural diversity and ethnicity. Influences of Hinduism and Buddhism in a predominantly Islamic country amazed me on my recent trip to Jakarta, the island capital of the archipelago. It is not very common to see a country run so efficiently despite the constant currency crisis.

Historic Influences

Before diving into the natural beauty of Indonesia that beguiled me for a second time, let’s learn a little bit about the origin and importance of Indonesia as a country. Being a cluster of close to 18,000 islands, this country holds proof of life, a million and a half years back from now. Unbelievable, isn’t it! The remnants of the Homo Erectus and Homo Floresiensis have been found on the islands by archaeologists and palaeontologists.

In fact, it was amazing to see the bones of the single dwarf Floresiensis woman who is believed to be the only resident of a remote island.

Skull of a Homo-Floresiensis on display
PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay

So Indonesia has not only been home to the traders in the later centuries but has been home to our predecessors for much longer.

Today the country is a well-known tourist destination and also a large source of rich minerals, thanks to its igneous formations. However, my trip to Jakarta wasn’t all about the fascinating history. In just 3 days, I ended up on an island, roamed on the streets of Old Town Batavia, explored many museums and shopped to my heart’s content. Not to forget the lip-smacking seafood I couldn’t take my hands off of!

Museum in Jakarta
Museum in Jakarta. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Jakarta – the city

I did not imagine Jakarta to have the skyline it does! Beautiful high-rises, tastefully done Dutch inspired streets, beautiful roads and efficient public transport greeted me into the metro city. Staying at the Manhattan Hotel, my room overlooked the commercial district and the cityscape at night truly enchanted me.

Manhatten Hotel's poolside view, Jakarta
Manhattan hotel. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
National Monument, Jakarta
National Monument. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Jakarta at night
Jakarta at night. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay

Exploring the city did involve a bit of pushing in the traffic as the number of two-wheelers is sheer magnanimous! I also found the scooter taxi service quite enchanting, with startups like GoJek and Grab making life easier for daily commuters. The TransJakarta bus service is definitely a must try for tourists on a budget due to the incredible frequency and comfort it offers.

Kota Tua, Jakarta's old town
Kota Tua, Jakarta’s old town. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Cafes and Restos

Food is always a highlight for me and Jakarta was no different when it came to satiating the taste buds. You may choose beef as the predominant meat, especially if you miss that in India with the current bans. However, my recommendation will be to try the seafood at Cafe Batavia, an iconic restaurant in the heart of the old town dutch colony. For traditional grilled fish, Jimbaran Resto at the Marina Bay is the must visit!

A plate of food in Batavia
Food in Batavia. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Beef steak
Beefsteak. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Cafe Batavia
Cafe Batavia. PC: Chandreyi Bandyopadhyay
Island Hopping

A trip to the thousand islands regency is a must do for a spectacular day trip experience away from the city. Out of the 342 tiny islands, only 36 are decreed to be developed for recreation.

I happened to set foot in the green-blue waters of the Big Tiger Island (Pulau Macan) and small tiger island, experiencing a unique eco-resort experience. The coral reefs that have died due to crushing environmental damage and fishing is now being replenished by the private owners of some of these islands. To mark my first underwater experience, I braved to go snorkelling here and here is what I saw!

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Underwater experiences with #Hero7black . . We both are amateur swimmers. Snorkeling proved to be a bit more tough than we had imagined, but thanks to @footloosedev we got to see the deeper edges of the reef at Pulau Macan island. Here is a short composition of our underwater exploration. . . You may know that sand is formed from years of dead corals, fish poop and redacted marine life. We got to see both live and dead corals, pretty fishes and urchins hiding in between coral rocks. . . What fun with the new @gopro #hero7 . . Gear courtesy @bragpackergear Traveling with @indtravel and @malindoair to explore #wonderfulindonesia . . Turn on post notifications to stay updated on more such videos! . . #tripofwonders #tripotocommunity #cntgiveitashot #gopromilliondollarchallenge #goproindonesia #gopro_moment #goproindia #goprogirl #goprohero7 #goproit #underwaterphotography #snorkeling #coral #indonesia #javasea #islandsofadventure #adventuretime #ig_travel #mypixeldiary #oceanside #indiantravelblogger #whpscale @traveldotearth

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So to sum up, if you are planning to visit Jakarta on your trip to Indonesia, meet the locals, have great food and experience the culture in a short time. A little museum and island hopping will tell you so much about the incredible culture and traditions of this island country. Also, do not forget to shop at local stores run by cute Bahasa women who will share the delight of a sale with you and make you truly happy about buying that piece of traditional Batik!

Read more first-hand experiences of the Jakarta trip.

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