Adventure looms large in this vast archipelago, steaming, where the best of melange simmers tantalizingly spicy Southeast Asia. Heady aromas, colors, spectacular scenery and cultures several times and multiply to the point of exhaustion, their potent brew leaving your senses reeling.
Ecuador ripple through nearly 5,000 kilometers, Indonesia covers more than 17,000 islands, two thirds of which are inhabited and richly layered with character. In Sulawesi, the elaborate funeral ceremonies and timeless traditions of Tana Toraja are light years ahead of the surfing culture of Lombok. But so are the mighty saddle Toba Batak mansions Danu of the volcanic lakes of Sumatra from the mummies and deeply etched gorges of Papua Baliem Valley. The resorts and restaurants of Bali pamper precocious style cats, while at the same time exhausted backpackers are adopted by host families in Kalimantan.
Indonesia’s cities are in a constant state of urban evolution, where dense populations, technology and construction live in hectic symbiosis. But most of the archipelago’s territory remains unexplored, concealing a wealth of cultures and a variety of landscapes. Rice fields and ancient sultanates in Oceania Java are humbled by haunting volcanic cones. Maluku alabaster beaches and desert islands remain pristine while the tourist trail heads elsewhere. The forests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua are zoological wonders, revealing the monkeys, stoic sun bears naughty, leopards, orangutans and remarkable marsupials.
And then there are micromoments equally exquisite, but totally unexpected, impromptu English lessons to school children, instant friendships we piled up, giving ear to his rider becak … In Indonesia there are plenty of reasons to pause, except when dodging traffic at full speed – but that’s all part of the adventure.