Exploring Indonesia from East to West
The beauty of Indonesia exceeded our expectations - from the colorful coral reefs of Raja Ampat to the Hindu culture of Bali, from fierce looking Komodo dragons to the gentle orangutans of Sumatra, this archipelago nation never ceased to amaze us.
We spent our first few days exploring Raja Ampat in the heart of the coral triangle. By far the largest collection of fish and corals we've ever seen! We're guessing it had four to five times more species than the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. The Fam Islands were the best, with all of their colorful soft corals and coral fans. But the surrounding coral reefs were also outstanding. I can't recall all of the multitudes of species we saw, but they included manta rays, clownfish, emperor angelfish, blueface angelfish, lionfish, scorpionfish, moray eels, black-tipped reef sharks, giant clams, titan triggerfish, and batfish. We also enjoyed seeing the huge hornbills return to their nesting tree at sunset. We stayed at Papua Paradise Eco Resort, a place we can highly recommend. It's less than a two hour boat ride from Sorong, Papua, on the mainland.
“From Bukit Lawang we trekked into Gunung Leuser National Park, where we discovered Thomas leaf monkeys, macaques, the Sumatran peacock-pheasant, and of course orangutans as well”
We loved the island of Bali! It's Hindu influence meant many stone statues and temples in everyone's front yard. The Ubud Monkey Forest is a must, where you'll be surrounded by cute, habituated macaque monkeys. We also enjoyed the many cultural dances, like the Kecak Fire (or Monkey Chant) Dance in Junjungan village and the Barong at Wantilan Pura Taman Sari in Ubud. We lodged in the stunningly beautiful Hibiscus room at Alam Indah, with 270 degree views of the jungle and river valley below. And we used Garuda Indonesia airlines to fly around this archipelago nation.
The Seeds of Love Tour at The Organic Farm - Bali, was one of the best cultural experiences we've ever had! It takes place in the small village of Angseri (population 200), where you'll spend a day learning about the local culture, touring their agriculture, and meeting some of the villagers during their daily life. Some of the local girls also dressed up and danced for us! And my husband was able to plant a tree to help the village. Johan (firstname.lastname@example.org), our taxi driver, would be happy to take you to Angseri.
Komodo National Park, via a day trip to Rinca Island, is a must do as well. On the island we saw water buffalo, macaque monkeys, timor deer, and of course many large Komodo dragons, the largest species of lizard, which can reach 150 lbs. (70kg) in weight and 8.5 ft. (2.5m) in length! We also enjoyed snorkeling, where we spotted dozens of sea turtles. We utilized the Manta Rhei Dive Center in Labuan Bajo to get us there.
Our final destination in Indonesia was Northern Sumatra, where we lodged for a night at the beautiful Hotel Deli River in Medan. We were then taken deep into the rainforest to Sumatra EcoTravel Lodge in the small village of Bukit Lawang. From there we trekked into Gunung Leuser National Park, where we discovered Thomas leaf monkeys, macaques, the Sumatran peacock-pheasant, and of course many orangutans as well! We advise you to wear long pants, tuck your shirt into your pants, and your pants into your socks. We witnessed leeches attack two people the day we hiked through the rainforest. Don't expose your skin to leeches.
We ended our adventure in Singapore, where we enjoyed the enclosed Cloud Forest and free light and sound show at the Supergrove at Gardens by the Bay. We also enjoyed the free Marina Bay Sands light and water show at night. And you must get a photo with the famous merlion! We utilized the Singapore Tourist Pass to get around. We can also recommend informal dining at The Connoisseur Concerto around Singapore for outstanding drinks and great food, and at Kailash Parbat in Little India for fantastic Indian cuisine!
Indonesia is a vast country, full of an array of wildlife and cultural diversity. When you visit, we encourage you to take a step outside of your comfort zone. Meet the people. Explore their delicious cuisine. Get lost in your surroundings and we promise you'll find yourself again.