Indonesia has always fascinated me. Partly this it because of my Dutch origin, and my interest in recent history – not necessarily a pretty combination. Dutch literature, much of it related to the colonial Dutch Indies, certainly triggered interest, too. But mainly it is just the thrill of an island nation, so vast, with so many different cultures, habits, languages, and even religions (despite the dominance of Islam).
For almost my entire working life I have tried to get a job there, first kind of casually with my first employer, then somewhat more focused with the second – both being international organizations with operations in Indonesia. When that failed, I resigned and I landed a job with another international organization, in Banda Aceh, at the westernmost edge of this gigantic archipelago. Unfortunately, this was a one year contract only, and turned out to require close to seven days a week work, so although the job was great, we didn’t get to see much of the country outside Aceh – apart from a week in Flores, and another week traveling part of Sumatra. But we did experience Indonesia, if only a tiny little part of its people, its culture, its food, its hospitality, its resilience. And we liked what we saw. So we vowed to come back, one day, for a proper exploration of this country.
That day has arrived. We have a plan (next entry).