Indonesia – Part 1: The Land of 17000 Islands

Indonesia – Part 1: The Land of 17000 Islands

“You always have time for your own backyard”. This is what I was thinking of a travel destination for 2019. I was looking at options to travel outside of the South and South East Asian peninsula as, like I said, it’s my own backyard. But as luck would have it, I had some rewards miles accumulated on my Sri Lankan airlines frequent flyer account and I figured I might as well make some use of it. Given that Sri Lanka is an island country, the only way out is by flying and flying costs. Free tickets come in very handy for countries like us.

My revised plan was to spend a 2-3 week vacation covering Malaysia and Indonesia, covering the wildlife and cultural hotspots. But the more I started reading about it, the more I realised that I won’t be able to do both countries in a single go as I originally planned. Indonesia it self had many hotspots I wanted to visit; Sumatran nature reserves, Bornean nature reserves, historical sites in Jogjakarta, volcanoes in… well pretty much everywhere, and of course not to miss Bali and Komodo (last two of course being just checklist items as I planned them). Indonesia also takes prides in its many islands, 17000 as it claims. I really had to decide which ones I want to visit. I ended up having a re-revised plan of 14 days in Indonesia.

My itinerari looked like this:

Jogjakarta : 2 days full

The main plan was to visit Borobudur and Prambanan sites. Also found out that there’s an archaeological site called Taman Sari, pretty close to the main city. There also seemed to be some beaches with caves, but I wasn’t sure if I would actually have time to visit them.

Labuan Bajo: 2 days full

Laguna Bajo is a small (now touristic) town on the west side of Flores. From there, there are many excursions to nearby Komodo and Rinca islands where you can see the Komodo Dragons (varanus komodensis) roaming free. I was also interested in doing some snorkelling near the Pink Beach or Padar Islands. If I was lucky, I might even be able to see a Blue Ringed Octopus in the reef.

Bali: 1 day full

I included Bali because I didn’t want to say that I went to Indonesia and didn’t go to Bali. Seemed to be everyone’s tourist destination and I felt a bit too out of place if I skipped it. As things turned out to be, this became the place I spent most of my time at.

Balikpapan: 4 days full

When I planned it, this was supposed to be the highlight of the trip. The tour I chose was a full 4 day boat trip in Mahakam river. Most of the highlights seem to include visiting Dayak villages, but I was pretty certain that with 4 days in a river boat, I would be able to catch a reasonable amount of wildlife. This was also going to become the most expensive part of my trip as I was travelling solo.

Jakarta: 1 day full

Add to these the half days I spend on each location, the total came to be a full 14 days quite easily.

Of course that was the plan. How things turned out was a completely different story…

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