Top 5 Reasons Indonesia is Amazing

This is part 2 of our good and bad coverage of Indonesia.  For a look at the dark side, please check out the Top 5 Resaons Indonesia Sucks.  For now, let’s look at why this massive archepelgo is pretty fantastic.

5. The Sights

Sunset near Kuta_1280_for_Web

Indonesia is endowed with some pretty fantastic eye candy.  What’s more is that there is such a variety of things to see.  Whereas many tropical destinations mainly have great beaches to offer, Indonesia has so much more.  There are the lush tropical forests, magestic mountain ranges, and some of the largest hindu and buddhist temples in the world.  These trace back to an amazing hisory hundreds of years ago that still lingers to this day.  They are the type of places that boggle the mind when you see them as you try to figure out how a culture could have built such things so long ago.

Add to this the colorful hodgepodge of the cities and it really is a sight to behold. I will let a few pictures do the talking…

From the domes to the mountain_1280_for_Web

Rice terraces_1280_for_Web

4. Discount Prices

Coming from a first world country (with a first world country), Indonesia is very cheap.  Of course, it might not feel like it when you’re spending 10,000 Rupiah at a time, but when you can get a meal for about $2 (and much less if you’re more adventurous and go for truly local food stalls of dubious cleanliness), the whole country feels like it’s on sale.  This is obviously one of the large draws for places in the developing nations because your tourist dollar can go a lot farther.

Ubud Lunch_1280_for_Web

Of course, since we have very limited bag space, we managed to avoid the plethera of souvenirs, including traditional balinese clothes, but mostly funny t-shirts and fake-brand sunglasses.  Oh yes, and the wooden penises.  Never forget the wooden penises.

Just remember when you’re haggling that at some point, even though you’re talking about 5000 rupiah, it’s really only a few cents to you, but may mean much more for the person who has been waiting all day for a sale.  Keep that in mind for those last few coins.  Of course, if you are like me and just like to haggle for sport, one technique that I quite like is to bargain down to the last penny, then give more than what you negotiated to.  This keeps the fun, allows you to still give more, and the receiver will be even more pleased than if you’d just agreed on that price.

3. Genuinely Kind People (*Not valid in Bali)

There are different types of smiles.  There’s the genuine smile that you give to a friend, a neighbor, or even a stranger when you truly want to be friendly.  There’s also the wolf-like type of smile that a salesman gives when he thinks he’s about to make a sale as he pats you on the back like you’re his long lost friend.  Unfortunately, Bali is filled with the latter.  Fortunately, the majority of the rest of Indonesia is filled with the former.

Arriving in Jogjakarta after spending a long amount of time in Bali, the difference became immediately apparent.  It was the look of satisfaction and happiness in a bus attendant’s when he realized he correctly told us which stop to get off at.  It was the friendly way that the people in the hotel tried to tell us about what was in the mystery meal for breakfast.  It was a feeling that permeated the atmosphere and left you feeling much more positive, rather than having to be a defensive tourist.

Our guide_1280_for_WebUs and the girls_1280_for_Web

Being in Jogjakart also brought back the feeling of being a rockstar that I enjoyed while living in rural Japan.  When we visited Borobudur, I suddenly had large groups of children asking to take pictures with me.  Of course, we heard later that this is probably because they get class credit for it because it looks like they’re practicing their English, but hey, I love kids and it’s always a fun time.

2. Amazing Craftsmanship

It has been said that Indonesia is a land full of artists and I can certainly see why.  A large majority of the art is still done here by hand and the work is really quite extraordinary.  From the woodwork in Ubud, Bali, to the amazing Batik paintings that we saw in Jogjakarta, to the laquerware on display, it was clear that many people in Indonesia are clearly gifted with copious artistic talent.

Prayers in Wood_1280_for_WebWooden Buddha_1280_for_Web

The one thing to be aware of is that there are plenty of knockoffs to be found, but if you do some due diligence, you can find the genuine article just around the corner.  We did actually find that most of the real studios were extremely low pressure in terms of making you want to by.  They sell in the best way, which is showing you the quality of their product and making it easy for you to buy, without pressuring you to do so.

1. You Can Feel the World Changing

Indonesia is very clearly still a developing country.  It has problems with cleanliness, stray dogs, and a currency that is still bouncing around and trying to figure out how many zeros should be behind it.  However, being in this country, you get a clear sense that it doesn’t plan on staying that way for long.  In talking with the people there, it seems clear that they have bigger dreams that go beyond where they are now.

You see more and more people starting their own businesses and using the internet and social networks like facebook to spread word of their businesses beyond their island.  In Jakarta, you can see that growth starting with the ever-growing collection of skyscrapers both of foreign businesses looking to invest in Indonesia and in home-grown companies looking to expand overseas.  It’s hard to put just one face on it, but it is something that you can feel in the air and it feels like a country on the verge, which is an exciting thing to see.  We can only wait and see what the future brings.

View from the table_1280_for_Web

This has been a one sided look at this very dynamic country.  To see the dark side of Indonesia, please read the Top 5 Reasons Why Indonesia Sucks.

Posted on by Aaron in Aaron's Blog

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