Bali’s colorful Hindu culture and welcoming locals have lured travelers for decades, and for good reason. Explore verdant rice fields, secluded beaches and the cultural heartland of Ubud to meet traditional mask-makers, ikat weavers and other skilled artisans.
KOMODO NATIONAL PARK
Famous as the home of fearsome and respected Komodo dragons, Komodo National Park (which includes Komodo, Padar and Rinca islands) also supports populations of wild horses, buffaloes and barking deer. Offshore the marine life is also diverse—dolphins and whales are abundant and teeming coral reefs are a delight for snorkelers.
The largest Buddhist monument in the world, the 9th-century ruins of Borobudur are stunning in both scale and beauty. The monumental architecture is representative of the ten levels of development one must pass through to become enlightened.
KALIMANTAN (INDONESIA BORNEO)
The Indonesian portion of the island of Borneo is rich in both biological and cultural diversity. Observe orangutans and colorful birdlife in their wild habitats. Or seek out the cultural wonders of the island with a visit to the traditional villages of the Dayak tribe, known for their intricate tattooing, blowguns and mastery of basket weaving and woodcarving.
Positively pulsing with life, Jakarta fully embraces the hopeful spirit of 21st-century Asia. Wander the streets for a taste of the action, but don’t miss the National Museum and Sunda Kelapa Harbor. Travel 60 miles south of the city, through the city’s village-suburbs, to Bogor Botanical Gardens to witness a more tranquil side of this urban hub.
TANA TORAJA, SULAWESI
A regency within South Sulawesi and the ancestral home of the Torajan tribe, Torajaland is well worth a visit for those interesting in tribal rituals, authentic cultural interaction and rainforest trekking.
Travel expert recommendations
See Orangutans in the Wild (Camp Leakey, Kalimantan, Indonesia)
Board a traditional klotok (a flat-bottomed river boat) in Pangkalanbun and cruise upriver to Camp Leakey. This research center was founded in 1971 by Dr. Birute Galdikas for the study and conservation of orangutans. Like Jane Goodall's work with chimpanzees and Diane Fossey's with gorillas, Dr. Galdikas' hands-on approach to researching orangutans—she has lived for decades in this jungle—has resulted in a profoundly influential body of work. Likely encounters include several of the resident ex-captive orangutans that roam within the grounds of the research camp as well as visits to several feeding sites.
Attend a Village Feast Held in Your Honor (Bulian, Bali, Indonesia)
Drive past rice terraces and active volcanoes to the remote village of Bulian as the special guests of long-time friend of ATJ, Komang. Upon arrival, drop by the school to see the young boys and girls of the village learning the traditional Balinese dances and the traditional art of Balinese music. Then accompany Komang to his home for an extravagant home-cooked dinner and a unique music and dance performance (you’ll be expected to join in!). This experience is exclusive to ATJ.
Dine like Royalty, with Royalty (Sanur, Bali, Indonesia)
Malaika (a princess of one of Bali’s royal families) welcomes you to her villa with a shower of flower petals. A private table is set up poolside in her beautifully decorated courtyard (flowers floating in the pool, lanterns, candles). Staff from her nearby restaurant help out with the cooking and serving as Malaika guides you through the meal and provides delightful conversation. The food is seriously amazing—combo of Balinese classics and innovative raw cuisine.
Snorkel Komodo National Park (Komodo NP, Indonesia)
Komodo National Park is a World Heritage site in the Flores Sea and consists of the three larger islands of Komodo, Rinca and Padar. Because of its unique geology and as a result of volcanic activity, this makes for stunning scenery both above and below water. The islands feature a dramatic, wild savannah landscape with patches of forest, especially on the southern hills of Komodo and Rinca. White and reddish sandy beaches, blue lagoons teeming with fish and some of the most spectacular underwater scenery in the world. Explore by private traditional phinisi boat so you can stop at beaches and reefs at your whim.
Indonesia is home to 75% of all currently active volcanoes on Earth.
The word “ketchup” in English comes from the Indonesian word kecap, which is a sweet soy sauce.
Indonesia is the world’s largest country comprised solely of islands. It is composed of 17,508 islands, some 6,000 of which are inhabited.
While Bahasa Indonesia is Indonesia’s formal language, the country recognizes more than 700 other languages spoken within its borders.
Cuisine & Recipe
Traditional Balinese cooking strives to achieve balance in flavors in order to encourage balance and health within the body. The result is a cuisine flush with delicious, healthful food. This pungent condiment features prominently in Balinese cuisine and exemplifies the balance between spicy, sweet, savory, sour and salty. It’s a favorite among ATJ staff seeking to relive their Indonesian excursions stateside!
Sambal Matah - Bali Style Raw Sambal
15 shallots, peeled and sliced
15 bird's eye chilies, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely sliced
5 kaffir lime leaves, finely sliced
1 tsp shrimp paste (available at asian grocers)
4 stalks lemongass, only take the white and tender part, bruised and finely sliced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp freshly squeezed kaffir lime juice (regular limes can be substituted, if necessary)
1/4 grated kaffir lime skin (regular limes can be substituted, if necessary)
75 ml extra virgin coconut oil
Combine all ingredients except for the coconut oil in a larger mortar and pestle or small food processor. Grind until roughly combined. Add the coconut oil and continue to mix until the sambal comes together as a chunky relish. Serve with grilled fish or meat, fried rice or noodles.
Indonesia, Etc.: Exploring the Improbable Nation
Declaring independence in 1945, Indonesia said it would “work out the details of the transfer of power etc. as soon as possible.” With over 300 ethnic groups spread across over 13,500 islands, the world’s fourth most populous nation has been working on that “etc.” ever since. Author Elizabeth Pisani traveled 26,000 miles in search of the links that bind this disparate nation. She visited the capital, Jakarta, as well as jungles and small villages to talk to farmers, politicians, priests, fishermen, teachers, soldiers, nurses, and others to capture the heart and soul of Indonesia. She encountered child brides, witnessed young men jousting with javelins, sipped tea at a funeral, and spotted satellite dishes on the grass roofs of bamboo huts. Indonesia, etc. is an intimate, fascinating look at the world’s fourth most populous nation, one working to define itself in a modernizing world.