The world’s fourth most populace country – 245 million and counting – is a sultry kaleidoscope that runs along the equator for 5000km.
It may well be the last great adventure on earth. From the western tip of Sumatra to the eastern edge of Papua, this nation defies homogenisation.
It is a land of so many cultures, peoples, animals, customs, plants, features, artworks and foods that it is like 100 (or is it 200?) countries melded into one.
And we’re talking differences that aren’t just about an accent or a preference for goat over pork; we are talking about people who are as radically different from each other as if they came from different continents.
No man may be an island but here every island is a unique blend of the men, women and children who live upon it. Among the most well known islands are Sumatra, Java, Bali, Kalimantan (formerly Borneo), Sulawesi (formerly Celebes), the Maluku Islands (or better known as Moluccas, the original Spice Islands) and Papua. Then, there is Bali “the world’s best island resort” with its enchanting culture, beaches, dynamic dances and music.
But Indonesia still has many unexplored islands with grand mountain views, green rainforests to trek through, rolling waves to surf and deep blue pristine seas to dive in where one can swim with dugongs, dolphins and large mantarays.
Because of her location, and geology, Indonesia is blessed with the most diverse landscape, from fertile ricelands on Java and Bali to the luxuriant rainforests of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, to the savannah grasslands of the Nusatenggara islands to snow-capped peaks of West Papua.
Her wildlife ranges from the prehistoric giant Komodo lizard to the Orang Utan and the Java rhino, to the Sulawesi anoa dwarf buffalos, to birds with exquisite plumage like the cockatoo and the bird of paradise. This is also the habitat of the Rafflesia the world’s largest flower, wild orchids, an amazing variety of spices, and aromatic hardwood and a large variety of fruit trees. Underwater, scientists have found in North Sulawesi the prehistoric coelacanth fish, a “living fossil” fish, predating the dinosaurs living some 400 million years ago, while whales migrate yearly through these waters from the South Pole. Here are hundreds of species of colourful coral and tropical fish to admire.
Culturally, Indonesia fascinates with her rich diversity of ancient temples, music, ranging from the traditional to modern pop, dances, rituals and ways of life, changing from island to island, from region to region. Yet everywhere the visitor feels welcomed with that warm, gracious innate friendliness of the Indonesian people that is not easily forgotten.
Facilities-wise Indonesia’s hotels are second to none. In fact, many of our luxurious and unique hotels have constantly been listed as some of the best in the world, located on white sandy beaches, overlooking green river valleys, or situated in the heart of busy capital Jakarta. While Indonesia’s cities like Jakarta, Bandung, Surabaya, or Makassar are a hive of activities for business and leisure and a paradise for shoppers, offering upscale boutiques selling top brand names, to local goods at road-side stalls. Here gourmets can treat themselves to the many regions’ delectable spicy cuisine or dine sumptuously at international restaurants. And for sheer relaxation, Indonesia Spas are second to none to reinvigorate both body and mind.
Convention centers are equipped with state-of-the-art facilities, as many top international conferences and exhibitions are held in Jakarta, Bali to Manado, ranging from the Global Climate Change Conference in Bali to the World Ocean Conference in Manado , to trade and investment exhibitions and tourism trade shows in many provincial capital cities.
Jakarta, Bali, Medan, Padang, Bandung, Solo, Yogyakarta, Surabaya, Makassar are connected by direct international flights, and many regular and low cost carriers fly passengers to Indonesia’s towns or remote locations.
Indonesia has three time zones—Western Indonesia Time which is GMT +7 (covering Sumatra, Java, Madura, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan), Central Indonesia Time which is GMT +8 (covering East and South Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Bali, Nusa Tenggara) and the last is Eastern Indonesia Time which is GMT +9 (covering Maluku and Irian Jaya).
The capital Jakarta is GMT + 7 or 16 hours ahead of US Pacific Standard Time.
Office hours start from 8 AM to 4 PM, or 9 AM to 5 PM. Lunch break occurs between 12 noon to 1 PM. Usually offices are closed on Saturdays, including government offices.
Government office hours start at 8 AM and end at 4 PM.
Standard banking hours are from 8 AM to 3 PM from Monday to Friday. However several banks open their branches in hotels (and some in malls) longer than office hour, a few are open on Saturdays so you might want to check first. Jakarta has a number of international banks, even though you can also exchange currencies in some hotel cashiers and official money changers.
The Indonesia Rupiah is also called IDR. Information of daily exchange rate can be found in newspapers or from the net. Some Indonesia banks provide this on their websites.
IDR and US$ are the most acceptable currencies.
Most tourism resorts have money changer facilities. When you are traveling to remote areas it is advisable to exchange your money and clear your check. Credit cards are only acceptable in big hotels, restaurants, shops and traveling agencies.
Electric power supply is 220 volts in all regions. So be careful with your 110-volt electronic equipment. The sockets will only fit with with two pins rounded-tip plugs (technically known as Type C, E, and F) or use adaptors. Most hotels and many restaurants in large cities provide internet connections or free WiFi.