Let me tell a tale! How I came back from my first international trip, with new people, new food, new culture and new experiences. And I am glad that it was ‘Wonderful Indonesia’.
There were many questions in my head. How will be the experience, will I become friendly with other bloggers, will I manage to eat (since I am a vegetarian, I had heard stories) and most importantly how will the tourism board of Indonesia take care of us, but the experience was more than pleasant and gave me lifetime memories.
Malindo Air took care of our entire journey. All of us were travelled from different parts of India. So we all met at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and the connecting flight took us to Jakarta.
Our accommodation in Jakarta
We spent 3 days in Jakarta and went to see some of the most epic places. We stayed at the Manhattan Hotel which was almost an hour from the airport. The hotel… what should I say about it? It’s one of the fanciest and most plush hotels I have ever stayed in. Starting from the service to the food, from the view to the arrangements everything was top notch.
The Pulau Macan Island
This is my most favourite part of the trip so it’s obvious for me to start with it 🙂
I can’t begin to tell you how much I love seashores and beaches. So from the beginning, I was looking forward to this day. We left the marina on a fancy cruise which was an experience in itself. Imagine cold wind caressing your hair and blue waters as far as eyes can see and you move forward cutting the currents to reach the beautiful island. It was just blissful.
After around an hour and a half, we reached the island. The island is also called Tiger Island. It’s really the cutest island I have ever seen. Just about a kilometre, this island is a perfect place for a quick getaway from a busy city like Jakarta.
It’s so small that there is only one resort on the entire island. It’s called Pulau Macan Tiger Islands Village and Eco Resort. The owner welcomed us and showed us around the island. It’s an eco-resort which is dedicated to the preservation of the island and the marine life. Not only are they growing the corals there, their water and waste management is also commendable. And when it comes cleanliness, it’s spotless! Not just the island but even the waters are clean. Makes you wonder whether we really take care of such scenic beauties back home?
The entire day was reserved for us to be lazy on this cosy island. Some of us were busy playing table tennis, some got into the waters, few did snorkelling, and me, I did nothing, Just sat by the sand and chilled. What a relaxing day!
There is a smaller island which is just 10 minutes away from the main island. We went there on a small boat. What a beauty! The entire day went by the island and with heavy hearts, we left for the city. Though the waves on the way back soothed us a little bit.
Another day, another interesting thing to see. Museums are generally boring but this one proved to be an exception. Simply because more than 60% of the history involved Hindu culture and Hindu mythology which I am very much interested in. So, even though today Indonesia is the country with the highest Muslim population, it used to be ruled by Hindu kings. In fact, Hindus and Buddhists used to live there together in harmony. Most of the monuments and sculptures of the earlier centuries involved Hindu Gods and Goddess, and their different avatars.
The guide explaining things made me all the more interested in the rich yet progressive culture of Indonesia.
Why? Let me explain.
According to the guide when Hindus and Buddhists lived here together, it was easier for Hindus to accept the ways and norms of Buddhism. Hindus worship 33 crore Gods and Goddess, so a few more Buddhas wouldn’t hurt them. But at the same time, it was tougher for Buddhists to make way for 33 crore Gods. Not only that, did you know, unlike Hindu culture, in Buddhism, a normal man/woman can turn into a God or Goddess depending upon her deeds. Many kings have turned into Gods because of their noble work. Even other people can make you Gods if you prove yourself as a holy and selfless person. Interesting, isn’t it?
Apart from that, there were many other notable things to watch. The ancient jewellery, crowns. When the Muslim empires started attacking these kingdoms, the first thing they did was steal the crown. Without crowns, there would be no kings and that’s how they achieved many sultanate and states.
The charming old town
Last but definitely not least, a day at the old town. It’s very thoughtful of the Indonesian government to keep the old town intact by adding some new and sweet attractions for the people and tourists. It was a beautiful street to look at. So colourful and vibrant. Street performers, artists, space for cycling, museum, small gift shops, beautiful restaurants and cafes and what not.
We roamed around the street and shopped a bit. We saw the local artists performing some nice folk songs. Once they noticed us Indians, they started singing Hindi songs. Any guesses? Kuchh Kuchh hota hai! The entire country is mad behind Shah Rukh Khan there. So sweet!
Thamrin city – yay, shopping!
Every international trip is incomplete without some local shopping right? The Indonesian tourism board was thoughtful enough to include it in the schedule so that we can get a few hours to shop. Thamrin city shopping mall is a huge mall with everything under the sun. Starting from clothes to cosmetics to traditional wear, you can get anything and everything in there. And with a currency difference, it’s hard to resist!
Food and people
Believe me, when I say, all Indonesian people wear smiles as commonly as we wear shirts. As if they are acknowledging our existence and making sure to express that they like it. It’s a very nice feeling to experience. Women there run most of the shops, businesses and even homes. The men are respectful and very polite. Very helpful, diligent and attentive. Kids are just adorable!
Pardon me. Since I am a vegetarian, I couldn’t taste most of the delicacies that were being served all around me. But few of the veg delicacies like the Peanut Satay and Bibimbap Sauce that I had were just delicious. Water there is an expensive affair. Most of the people don’t consume water with meals the way we do. So, all of us had to struggle a bit for it. They made sure to take us to some of the best restaurants in Jakarta. It was an amazing experience.
The best seafood restaurant –
A cute restaurant in old town –The best restaurant in Jakarta – social house
Sure, every tourism board wants to show how beautiful their country or city is, but it’s the overall experience that counts in the end. Not only were the arrangements amazing but the human experience with the people was so good and memorable. It’s a humble, peace-loving culture with good-hearted people. They take care of their properties, their people and cherish where they have come from. Everywhere we went, all of them welcomed us with open arms and a big smile.
Overall, the experience of visiting Indonesia with a bunch of interesting bloggers and sweet people from the tourism board was more than amazing. Indonesia is not just Bali but much more than that. The people, culture, food habits and most importantly, their kind nature will make me remember this trip forever.
So when are you visiting the ‘Wonderful Indonesia’?