Where do you start, exploring Indonesia? Anything between 10,000 and 40,000 islands, depending on what source you trust most, 17508 being the number most often quoted (which, incidentally, doesn’t make it the most numerous island country, by far not; Canada, Sweden and Finland have all at least 10 times more islands each!). The name Indonesia, derived from Indus and the Greek word nesos, meaning island, was adopted at independence; not much different from the more poetic-sounding Insulinde or Insulindia used by some during the Dutch colonial period – insula being the Latin equivalent for island.
Our 60 day visa can be extended in country, for 30 days (and more if necessary). So we leave end of September, and come back on Christmas day. 90 days in country, exactly. We fly to Jakarta, and spend a month or so between visiting temples and climbing volcanoes on Java. We try to be in time for the bull race festival in Pulau Madura, an island off Surabaya, end October, before moving to Makassar on Sulawesi. Here we travel the island from SW to NE, all the way to Manado, by way of tribal architecture in Mamasa and Tanah Toraja and snorkeling in the Togian Islands and perhaps Bunaken. Another month later we transfer to Balikpapan on Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo, for some river exploration and jungle trekking to Dayak long houses, for some bird watching, and for the Orang Utangs. A rather varied program, and all of that within the same country.
As always, we have booked our ticket – to and from Jakarta in this case -, and nothing else, and the above outline is a target; we’ll see whether we make it, or whether we get distracted on the way. Watch this space.
next entry: the transport