Farah Najam takes us on a journey to a large group of islands in South East Asia- a unique country called Indonesia
Indonesia, a large group of islands in South East Asia, is a unique country. Islam is the dominant religion with the greatest number of adherents. The high number of Muslims makes Indonesia the most populous Muslim majority nation in the world. Indonesians are known to be very courteous people and often cited as gentle and god fearing. As the world experiences targeted militancy, Indonesia has not been spared. Nevertheless, it remains a favourite and economical tourist destination today for a myriad of reasons.
Places of Interest
A booming city of over three million, Surabaya offers many good hotels, shopping centers, and entertainment places. Its well-stocked zoological garden includes several species of Indonesian fauna such as orangutan, komodo dragon, and a collection of nocturnal animals. Mpu Tantular Museum offers archeological art and cultural items from prehistoric times until the country’s independence.
Trowulan – Pandaan – Tretes
The surroundings of the Trowulan village is believed to be the site of the ancient capital of Majapahit. Archeological excavations in the area have recovered many terracotta ornaments, statues, pottery, and stone carvings, which are displayed at the Trowulan Museum. Up to 10 km from Chandra Wilwatika is Tretes, one of the most beautiful mountain resorts of East Java.
90 km south of Surabaya is Malang, one of the most attractive towns in Java. A strong sense of civic pride is sensed from the well-maintained and painted becaks, the neat main-square, buildings, and streets. The cool climate is one reason why it is highly desirable among the East Javanese.
Purwodadi Botanical Garden
Founded in 1941 for the study of plants growing under relatively dry conditions, the Purwodadi gardens lie about 30 km northeast of the Malang, just off the Surabaya-Malang main road on the lowest slopes of Mt. Arjuno at an altitude of 300 metres .
One of the most exciting experiences is watching the sunrise from the crest of the Bromo volcano, a three-hour drive from Surabaya, followed by a pony ride from the village of Ngadisari over a sea of sand to the foot of a volcano.
Sadengan is a famous wild life reserve and feeding ground smaller in size than that of Baluran. It is in possession of 700 wild buffaloes and a variety of other wild life, all of which can be seen from the viewing tower.
Meru Betiri Reserve
After a rough 30 km ride, which crosses half a dozen rivers through dense jungle and rubber plantation, you finally arrive here on the southeastern tip of the province, where the last of the Javanese tigers had sought refuge. A hundred and fifty years ago, Javanese tiger inhabited most of Java and was even considered a nuisance in some populated areas. But through the 1800s and early 1900s it was hunted mercilessly and its habitat destroyed by plantation builders. The government and the World Wildlife Fund have mounted a determined effort to save the tiger and its environment.
Rice is the basis of almost all Indonesian dishes and is usually served with fish, chicken, or vegetables. Two common dishes, Nasi Goreng and Mie Goring, can be found everywhere and are an easy introduction to the Indonesian diet. Every town has at least one market, providing the traveller with an incredible range of fruits, vegetables, and snacks. Warungs, or food stalls, offer the tastiest and cheapest food. If you choose to eat from Warungs, check to see if locals are eating there. Indonesians drink hot coffee and tea, but bottled soft drinks are readily available. Most dishes are eaten using hands.
On many formal national occasions, men in the early 1990s wore Batik shirts with no ties that were not tucked into their trousers. They wore black felt caps or Peci, once associated with Muslims or Malays. Women wore Sarongs on formal occasions, along with the Kebaya, a long-sleeved blouse. On these occasions, women often tied their hair into a bun.
In addition, they might have carried a Selendang, a long stretch of cloth draped over the shoulder, which on less formal occasions was used to carry babies or objects.
Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta
Among the many Masajid this one is special. A 45 meter diameter central spherical dome covers the main prayer hall. Staircases at the corners of the building give access to all floors. The main hall is reached through an entrance covered by a dome 10 meters in diameter. The mosque also provides facilities for social and cultural activities, including lectures, exhibitions, seminars, conferences, Bazaars, and programs for women, youth, and children.
Boat racing and kite flying are very popular on most of the islands. Stone jumping is a sport in Nias. Young men, who play this game, sometimes jump over a wall with a sword in their hand. A favourite sport is Sepak Takraw. Two teams try to keep a rattan ball in the air with their feet. Badminton and tennis are popular throughout Indonesia. Indonesians are long-standing winners of the Thomas Cup men’s division and the women’s championship for badminton. Soccer is another popular sport. The Indonesian government encourages ‘sport for all.’