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Indonesia

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Kids in Ciendah, Flores flocked around us
Kids in Ciendah, Flores flocked around us

Be sure to check out the Newsletters we sent from Indonesia for more information and photos, as well as our Indonesia Diving page.  Cruisers should check out our extensive Cruising Info pages on Indonesia, split into North/East Indonesia, and South/West Indonesia.

Language:  Officially: Bahasa Indonesia.  Over 350 local languages exist, and are still spoken in many areas.
Population:  More than 260,000,000 people, united politically as Indonesians.  There are over 300 ethnic groups.
Money:  Rupiah, with an exchange rate of about Rp14,000 per US$1 in 2016.
Landscape:  With more than 18,000 islands, some huge like Sumatra, Kalimantan, Papua (Irian Jaya) and Java, others no more than small rock or sand outcroppings, it is hard to characterize the landscape of this vast country.  The land and sea area is more than twice that of the continental USA, but the land area alone is only about three times the size of Texas.  Indonesia has more than 120 active volcanoes and many ancient ones.  On Papua some mountains are snow-capped year round despite sitting on the equator.  The coastal areas of many islands are low and swampy with mangroves.  Other islands are dry or forested with white or black sand beaches.
Visited: We've cruised southern and western Indonesia 3 times with the Sail Indonesia Rally, which goes from Timor to Singapore (July to October): in 2006, 2015, and 2018.  We've also cruised northern and eastern Indonesia (August to July) in 2014/15 and again in 2016/17.  These last started with the Raja Ampat rallies from Kalimantan to Raja Ampat for the first month or so, mainly because the rally helps with clearance procedures.  Since we were in Indonesia for almost a year and they only give 6‑month visas, we had to leave Ocelot on each trip to fly out of the country for a week or so to get new visas.


Our track through Indonesia from Darwin to Singapore.
Our tracks through Indonesia. Click on a marked area of the map to go to our pages on:
Malaysia, Singapore, Kalimantan, Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, Komodo & Rinca, East Nusa Tenggara, or Australia.

An ancient Hindu temple on Lombok
An ancient Hindu temple on Lombok

A Very Brief History:  Because of the complexity of pre‑World War II "Indonesia" we have put short early histories under each region that we visited.  During WW II, the Dutch, who for years had governed the islands of Indonesia (to a greater or lesser extent in each region) were routed by the Japanese.  Following the Japanese surrender at the end of the war, Indonesia struggled for independence, hoping to attain it under the British, before the return of the Dutch.  This only came about (with much world pressure) in 1949.

Orangutans at Camp Leaky, Kalimantan
Orangutans at Camp Leaky, Kalimantan

The Republic of Indonesia was governed for 40 years by President Soekarno who ruled with a strong arm, virtually abolishing other political parties and leading the third largest communist party in the world after China and the Soviet Union.  Soeharto, a general under Soekarno's military, led an anti‑communist purge in 1965/1966 which killed an estimated 500,000 people, and opened the way for a government take‑over, leading to Soekarno's fall.  President Soeharto invited Western aid, and created a "New Order" government -- one that tolerated no criticism, but sought to unite the country and improve the economic and educational lot of the people.  The massive Asian economic crisis in 1997 left the country in economic ruin, from which it is barely beginning to recover.  Since Soeharto's resignation in 1998 the country has had a series of leaders as it works its way towards democracy.  Regional conflicts continue, and the terrorist bombings in Bali in 2002 and 2005 have further decreased the income derived from tourism as western governments warn their citizens not to visit.  All of this is now past history, and the country's tourism is thriving, especially in Bali and Java.  Many divers and eco‑tourists are now going to remote areas of Papua, such as Raja Ampat and Triton Bay.

Beautiful karst hills of Wayag, Raja Ampat
Beautiful karst hills of Wayag, Raja Ampat

Overview of our travels:  2006 was our first peek at this vast and beautiful country.  Our first stops in Indonesia after our 5‑day sail from Darwin, Australia were the hilly, dry islands of East Nusa Tenggara.  We day‑sailed along the north coast of the islands to arrive in Komodo National Park (which includes the islands of Komodo and Rinca) for some wildlife viewing and diving.  From there we continued day‑hopping west to Sumbawa, Lombok, and Gili Air (West Nusa Tenggara).  After a short hop across the pass we spent several weeks in Bali, then did short passages north to Kalimantan where we ventured into the rainforest to see the orangutans.  We cleared out of Indonesia from Nongsa Point Marina on Batam Island, just 12 miles from Singapore.

In 2014/15 and again in 2015/16 we made year‑long loops from eastern Kalimantan, east across Sulawesi to Halmahera and Papua/Raja Ampat.  We have spent more than 12 months exploring the amazing marine environment of Raja Ampat and Triton Bay, on the coast of Papua, and have done treks in the interior of Papua, in the Baliem Valley.  In order to stay longer in Indonesia, we've flown to either Penang or Singapore for new 6‑month social visas, then returned to Ocelot to sail south and west through the Mollucas (Ambon, Banda, Tual) to East Timor, where we cleared in and out again.  We have repeated our 2006 track 3 times now, across East Nusa Tenggara to either Karimunjawa or western Kalimantan and north to Belitong and Bangka where we cleared out for Malaysia.

We can't seem to get enough of this fabulous, friendly, diverse country!

Indonesia Destinations: E Nusa Tenggara | Komodo & Rinca | W Nusa Tenggara | Bali | Kalimantan

Related Pages: Indonesia Home | Diving Indonesia | Cruising N&E Indo | Cruising S&W Indo | Indonesia Letters | SE Asia Flora/Fauna

Indian Destinations: Indonesia | Singapore | Malaysia | Thailand | Nepal | India | Sri Lanka | Maldives | Chagos | Seychelles | Madagascar | Mayotte

Destinations: Caribbean Destinations | Pacific Destinations | Indian Ocean Destinations | Pacific Newsletters | Indian Ocean Newsletters | Flora and Fauna

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