Pick & Mix: Indonesia Getting Started & Itineraries
GOURMET FOOD, inDOnESian STYLE
Sponsored by Asian Home Gourmet
By eating in Indonesia you imbibe the essence of the country, as no other
nation is so well represented by its cuisine. The abundance of rice reflects
Indonesia’s fertile landscape, the spices are reminiscent of a time of
trade and invasion, and the fiery chilli echoes the passion of the people.
Indonesian cuisine is really one big food swap. Chinese, Portuguese,
colonists and traders have all influenced the ingredients that appear at
the Indonesian table and the cuisine has been shaped over time by the
archipelago’s diverse landscape, people and culture.
Indonesians eat simple but delicious meals. Eating only becomes grand
at celebrations. For everyday eating, in the morning most households
prepare plain rice, three or four dishes and sambal (chilli sauce), which
are left covered on the table and can be eaten throughout the day. The
dishes on the table constitute the entire meal, as Indonesian meals aren’t
served in courses.
Staples & Specialities
Indonesian cooking is not complex and the tastes stay separate. Corian-
der, cumin, chilli, lemon grass, coconut, soy sauce and palm sugar are all
important flavourings; sambal is a crucial condiment. Fish is a favourite
and the seafood restaurants are often of a good standard. Indonesians
traditionally eat with their fingers, hence the stickiness of the rice. Sate
(skewered meat), nasi goreng (fried rice) and gado gado (vegetables with
peanut sauce) are some of Indonesia’s most famous dishes. Thousands
of varieties of sweet and savoury Jajanan (snacks) are sold everywhere
and are made from almost anything and everything: peanuts, coconuts,
bananas, sweet potato etc.
Pick & Mix: Indonesia Getting Started & Itineraries
The amazing grain. Wherever you turn in Indonesia, rice is there: shaping
the landscape, sold at markets, hidden in sweets and piled on your plate.
And as this staple is so adaptable, there’s no fear of tiring of it. Its myriad
uses cover ketupat (rice steamed in woven packets of coconut fronds),
lontong (rice steamed in banana leaves), intip (rice crackers), desserts,
noodles, brem (rice wine) and the national favourite, nasi goreng (fried
rice). Despite its dazzling range, rice is most often eaten as nasi putih
(plain rice) – combined with just a little protein from side dishes, it’s
the most nutritionally complete food on the globe; the filler of a billion
Like rice, mie (noodles) came down through Southeast Asia from China
and are now an essential part of the Indonesian culinary lexicon. Rice
noodles, wheat noodles and egg noodles are all found here, and appear
in the night market staple, mie goreng (fried noodles). As with nasi
goreng there is no one correct recipe; all it needs is a wok, some oil – and
noodles. A few fresh ingredients such as beansprouts, shallots and an egg
are always added. Other types of noodles available include mihun (small
rice noodles, also cellophane noodles), kuaytau (flat rice noodles) and
sohun (mung bean noodles; also transparent bean-flour vermicelli). Mie
rebus (noodle soup) is another very popular snack. Chinese-style noodle
soups are also popular throughout Indonesia and can include pangsit
(wonton) and beansprouts. These are often served as a separate light
broth that you can slurp separately or spoon over the noodles.
24 G E T T I N G S TA R T E D • • T o p Te n s www.lonelyplanet.com www.lonelyplanet.com G E T T I N G S TA R T E D • • I n t e r n e t R e s o u r c e s 25
about Java and Bali is relatively common, but anything about the other
TOP TENS islands can be hard to find. The following provide general scratch-
Adventures beneath-the-surface accounts of some of the experiences Indonesia
has to offer.
Sampling the deserted islands, volcanoes and jungle of untouristed Maluku (p747).
Lyall Watson’s Gifts of Unknown Things observes the symbiotic rela-
Taking in the mummies, markets and culture of Papua’s Baliem Valley (p816). tionship of a community and its environment on unnamed Indonesian
Snorkelling and diving the psychedelic reefs of the Banda Islands (p765). island. The value of the natural world features highly in the book, and
Braving the elements, sun bears and jungle in Kalimantan’s Kayan Mentarang National Park
fans describe it as life affirming.
(p660) or Apokayan Highlands (p659) . Hard Bargaining in Sumatra: Western Travelers and Toba Bataks in
the Marketplace of Souvenirs, by Andrew Causey, describes the narrator’s
Surfing the legendary Desert Point (p499) in southwest Lombok. sabbatical with the Toba Bataks of northern Sumatra, and humbly cap-
Tramping through coffee plantations and waterfalls around Bali’s Munduk (p364). tures the sensual and physical landscape of the region.
Marvelling at the 6km-wide crater lake and summit views of Lombok’s Gunung Rinjani (p519). Tim Flannery’s Throwim Way Leg is a must for Papuan inspiration. The
author recounts his scientific expeditions to the province, where he dis-
Spotting orang-utans, gibbons, macaques and kingfishers in Tanjung Puting National Park (p631).
covered new species in Indiana Jones–style adventures. And it’s all true!
Getting a bird’s-eye view of Sumatra’s smoking guns, Gunung Sinabung (p396) and Gunung Indonesian history is detailed in Simon Winchester’s Krakatoa – The
Sibayak (p395). Day the World Exploded, which melds history, geology and politics, all
Discovering pristine wilderness and beaches in Java’s remote Ujung Kulon National Park (p128). centred on the 1888 eruption of Krakatoa – the world’s biggest bang.
In Search of Moby Dick, by Tim Severin, is an engagingly written search
Indonesian Experiences for the globe’s last whale-hunters that includes an extended stay in the
whaling village of Lamalera, Nusa Tenggara. ‘If you think
A beaming Indonesian smile – locals here are unfailingly happy and warm.
Couched in an academic title, Adrian Vickers’ A History of Modern Indo-
Spontaneous guitar-strumming sessions on street corners, warung, Pelni boats… nesia is based around the writings of Pramoedya Ananta Toer, and sum- travel’s rug-
Dancing Poco Poco (Indonesian line dancing) at a Maluku village disco. mons the culture, turbulence and emotion of everyday Indonesian life. ged now,
Taking your becak (bicycle-rickshaw) driver for a ride instead of the other way around.
Bali enthusiasts will love Dancing Out of Bali by John Coast, which delve into
invokes the people, life, music, and dance of Bali, told through the eyes
Sharing your rambutans and rupiah during impromptu card games on overnight ferries. of a young Englishman and his Javanese wife. Helen and
Catching a bus when school’s out and responding to a dozen kids practising their five English If you think travel’s rugged now, delve into Helen and Frank Schrei- Frank Schrei-
questions. der’s Drums of Tonkin, which documents their 1963 journey from Su- der’s Drums
Starring in countless strangers’ holiday pictures. matra to Timor in an amphibious jeep: landslides, gun-toting soldiers
and sea voyages galore. of Tonkin’
Helmet-less ojek (motorcycle) trips.
Coffee, cigarettes and conversations at 2am bus stops. INTERNET RESOURCES
Learning how to sleep through the morning call to prayer. The internet is a rich resource for all types of travellers – before you jump
on a plane jump online to get accurate and current information.
Festivals Some interesting sites:
Antara (www.antara.co.id/en) This is the site for the official Indonesian news agency; it has a
Nyale Fishing Festival, February or March (p525) – Hundreds flock to catch a glimpse of searchable database.
Lombok’s first nyale (wormlike fish) at this huge fishing festival.
Bali Discovery (www.balidiscovery.com) Although run by a tour company, this excellent site is
Pasola, February or March (p603) – ritual warfare marks Nusa Tenggara’s harvest festival. the best source for Bali news and features.
Waisak, May (p170) – Buddha’s birth and enlightenment are celebrated by thousands of Central Java Tourism (www.central-java-tourism.com) Tourism website for Central Java.
monks and pilgrims in Borobudur. EastJava.com (www.eastjava.com) Excellent site for tourism and business in East Java, with
information on everything from hospitals to moneychangers.
Festival Teluk Kendari, April (p711) – partying and dragon-boat races in Sulawesi’s Kendari Bay.
Indahnesia.com (http://indahnesia.com) Good site for news, features, online forums, events and
Yogya arts festival, June to July (p177) – A month-long smorgasbord of shows and exhibitions other links.
in Java’s cultural capital. Indonesia: Society & Culture (coombs.anu.edu.au/WWWVLPages/IndonPages
Bali Arts Festival, June to July (p303) – A celebration of Bali’s enigmatic dance, music and crafts. /WWWVL-Indonesia.html) Australian National University’s links site, this is the ‘granddaddy’ of
Tana Toraja funeral festival, July to September (p690) – Toraja from all over Indonesia return links to everything Indonesian.
to Sulawesi to celebrate these annual funeral rituals. Indonesian Homepage (http://indonesia.elga.net.id/) A good general introduction to
Indonesia, with a range of links.
Bidar race, August (p473) – Dozens of vivid bidar (canoes) race on Sumatra’s Sungai Musi.
Indonesia Tourism (www.indonesia-tourism.com) Useful site for general information about
Baliem Festival, August (p826) – A rich celebration of the Baliem Valley’s diverse indigenous tourism and holiday destinations in Indonesia.
cultures . Jakarta Post (www.thejakartapost.com) The extensive website of Indonesia’s English-language daily.
Ubud Writers & Readers Festival, October (p315) – An internationally acclaimed writers’ festival. Living in Indonesia: A Site for Expatriates (www.expat.or.id) Information, advice and links
aimed at the expatriate community, but useful for all visitors.
28 ITINERARIES •• Classic Routes www.lonelyplanet.com www.lonelyplanet.com ITINERARIES •• Classic Routes 29
THE JAVA JAUNT Three Weeks to Three Months/Jakarta to Bromo- SULTRY SUMATRA One Month/Medan to Padang
Tengger-Semeru National Park Dominated by wild and chaotic jungle peppered with urban centres, Su-
Start your journey in Jakarta (p99) and wrap your senses around the dizzy- matra has its own beaten path to accommodate the inquisitive traveller.
ing smells, sounds, sights and people of Indonesia’s teeming capital. Linger All roads lead to Medan (p382), which is the perfect point to stock
long enough to binge on Bintang beer and shopping, then head to Bogor up on necessities and creature comforts. Satisfy your craving for Dutch
(p129) to lose yourself in the sublime Kebun Raya Botanic Gardens. pottery, dazzle the taste buds with a Malay or Indian curry and down a
From Bogor set a course east through Java’s centre, traversing the tea Bintang at sunset.
plantations, waterfalls and dramatic scenery of the Puncak Pass area (p136). But you didn’t come for the air-con, so hit the road and make your
Visit Gede Pangrango National Park (p138) and take a day to reach the sum- way north to Bukit Lawang (p389), home to Sumatra’s most adored nat-
mit of Gunung Gede for jaw-dropping views. Continue your journey for ural attraction – the orang-utan. Feeding sessions for semideprived pri-
a stint in the urban jungle of Bandung (p138). Satiate yearnings for the mates offers unparalleled viewing of these graceful creatures. If you fancy
modern world in this city’s hotels and restaurants, then make a quick roughing it, you can test your survivor skills on a two-day trek through
exit from the chaos. the park, with the potential reward of seeing orang-utans in the wild.
It’s time to hit the coast, ditch the boots for a while and camp out From Bukit Lawang, bus your way down south to Danau Toba (p399)
in some well-earned calm – and that’s where Pangandaran (p151), Java’s for Batak culture, a gorgeous volcanic lake and a languid ambience. Trek-
premier beach resort, comes in. The national park, wide shorelines and a king is the traditional lure to this area, but there are rambling markets,
coastal party buzz dominate the visual and social landscapes here, and the handicraft villages and gargantuan orchids to behold as well.
accommodation is kind to all budgets. The route then takes a dive south to Bukittinggi (p441), a busy market
After you’ve worshipped the sun for a week or so, pack the bags and town dwarfed by more volcanic peaks. The town itself is a pleasant spot
head to Yogyakarta (p171), Java’s cultural capital. Dabble in batik, amble to amble about for a few days but the attractions lie just outside in the
through the kraton (walled city palace) and part with your rupiah at the handicraft village of Koto Gadang (p445), the terraced rice fields, and
vibrant markets. A day trip to majestic Borobudur (p167) is a must. From the nearby Batang Palupah Nature Reserve (p446) and Lembah Anai Nature
Yogyakarta make your way to the laid-back city of Solo (p194), via the Reserve (p446).
enigmatic temples of Prambanan (p190). Finish your Java expedition with Your journey ends in Padang (p431), one of Sumatra’s busiest cities.
a visit to the awesome Bromo-Tengger-Semeru National Park (p244), spending Keep yourself occupied with museums and festivals, or use the city as a
your last night on the lip of Tengger crater. launching pad to escape to the Mentawai Islands (p437).
Positively churning This 900km journey
with life, Java has takes in the cities
the lion’s share of Medan and
of Indonesia’s Padang, orang-
population, and a Bukit Lawang Medan utans in Bukit
wealth of culture Lawang and the
and landscapes to Toba majestic volcanic
match. This 800km lake of Danua
route takes in Jakarta
Toba. There are
the highlights, markets, handi-
beginning in the Bogor
craft villages and
teeming capital Gede Pangrango Bukittinggi nature reserves on
Jakarta and ending Borobudur Prambanan
Padang the schedule, and
in the awe- Pangandaran Solo a laze on the
inspiring peaks of Bromo–Tengger–Semeru Patdarai
National Park Mentawai
Bromo-Tengger- Islands wai Islands.
30 I T I N E R A R I E S • • R o a d s Le s s T r a v e l l e d www.lonelyplanet.com www.lonelyplanet.com I T I N E R A R I E S • • R o a d s Le s s T r a v e l l e d 31
THE CULTURAL QUEST Six to Eight Weeks/Kalimantan to Sulawesi
ROADS LESS TRAVELLED Unassuming Pangkalan Bun (p628) is the entry point to this excursion – it’s
the launching pad for trips into glorious Tanjung Puting National Park (p631),
one of Indonesia’s best orang-utan haunts. Scan the canopy for their amber
This 3000km THE TRAIL THAT TIME FORGOT Two Months/Papua to Flores bodies from the top of a houseboat as it ambles down the beautiful Sungai
off-the-radar Papua is the launching pad for this route, starting at Kota Biak (p808). A Kumai, then fly back to reality in colourful Banjarmasin (p635). Dabble in One for the wildlife
relaxed and pleasant town, Biak is most useful as a base for trips to the the best of Kalimantan’s urban culture – brave a 5am call for the animated
adventure takes beauty beyond. Pack a tent and make for the exquisite reefs and beaches of floating markets, then cruise the canals and meet the locals at dusk. and culture junk-
in the picturesque the Padaido Islands (p813) and the unspoilt, ethereal Pulau Numfor (p813). From Banjarmasin travel overland to Samarinda (p649) and make an ies, this 2700-odd-
islands around Next on the itinerary is a quick plane ride from Kota Biak to Jayapura expedition along Sungai Mahakam (p654). Several days upstream will land kilometre route
Papua’s Kota Biak (p828). But you’ll only be stopping long enough to charter a boat to visit you in the river’s western reaches, which are peppered with semitrad- takes in the orang-
before heading to the magnificent Danau Sentani (p835), a 96.5-sq-km lake with 19 islands. itional Dayak villages and preserved forests. utans of magical
Back on dry land the route heads inland to the beautiful Baliem Valley From Samarinda catch the weekly Pelni ferry to Makassar (p671) to
the sublime Danau (p816), rich in culture and dramatic mountain scenery. From here the marvel at colonial Dutch architecture and gorge on some of Indonesia’s Tanjung Puting
Sentani and the truly intrepid (and wealthy) can embark on an expedition into the pris- best seafood. Chart a course due north for vast and mesmerising Tana National Park and
beguiling Baliem tine but seemingly impenetrable Asmat region (p837). Toraja (p687), home to Sulawesi’s most fascinating indigenous culture. the Dayaks of Kali-
Valley. Maluku’s Heading further afield requires a flight to Fak-Fak (p803) before another Take part in the elaborate funeral ceremonies, hop through remote vil- mantan’s interior,
flight or a ferry to Kota Ambon on Maluku’s Pulau Ambon (p752). Dose up lages, raft the Sungai Sa’dan’s rapids, and scale spectacular summits.
Pulau Ambon on urban comfort and culture, then take a ferry or plane to the crystalline Continue north and settle in Central Sulawesi for hiking around Indo- before skipping
and Banda Island seas, multicoloured reefs and empty beaches of the Banda Islands (p765). nesia’s third largest lake, Danau Poso (p716). From here escape the ‘main- over to Sulawesi
provide a change After indulging in sun and isolation, pack your gear up and board a land’ and plant yourself on the blissful Togean Islands (p725), which are for Toraja funeral
of scene before the Pelni ferry for Kupang (p580) in West Timor. Visit villages in the sur- laden in marine life and culture. After snorkelling and diving the vivid ceremonies, river
route heads south rounding areas, then jump over to Rote (p588) for relaxed coastal vibes. reefs head into Northern Sulawesi and the laid-back port of Gorontalo rapids, mountain
For a perfect ending, make your way to Flores (p543), a rugged volcanic (p731), where you can get busy with the camera on some of the finest
to West Timor and island with fishing villages, thriving culture and dramatic terrain. Dutch architecture in the country. treks and marine
Region Samarinda Togean
Pangkalan Bun Tana
Flores Tanjung Puting