(CNN) — Even after traveling extensively in Indonesia for over 20 years, it can sometimes be difficult to grasp the true size and diversity of the largest island nation on earth.
Although it is the world’s fourth most populous country (with an estimated 10% of the world’s languages), many people struggle to find Indonesia on the map.
Kopi dulu means “coffee first” in Indonesian. This serves as her second unified language for the majority of Indonesians. For me, the phrase has come to summarize the laid-back attitude of hospitality that is ubiquitous among the unimaginably diverse cultures that lie along this part of the volcanic belt of volcanoes at the edge of the Pacific Ocean. I got
Whether you’re a Muslim, Hindu, Christian, or animist, sometimes it seems like almost nothing happens without a “cup of Java” beforehand. This was fine for me as I learned early on in my Indonesia trip not to rush. Jam cullet (rubber time) is another of his national catchphrases that is the ideal antidote to our over-scheduled Western lifestyle.
Where myth is indistinguishable from reality
I first visited Indonesia in 1995 and have traveled to all the major islands since leading an expedition to Central Borneo. I must have explored a good number of her over 100 islands that are largely undocumented and an estimated 12,000 that are still officially listed as uninhabited today.
Skeptics would say there are no unexplored regions, but Indonesia offers a level of adventure that most countries can match. In my travels through the country, of course, most of the iconic sights (Borobudur Temple, Batak Highlands, Komodo, etc.) and despite the fact that there are relatively few international tourists , visited quite a few spots that have become almost household names (Krakatoa, Mark’s Highlands). “Spice Islands”, Borneo).
In Parasari, the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus towers over the sultry jungle with an unexpectedly majestic appearance.
I’ve surfed the legendary reefs of G-Land, Nias and Ossey’s Left, and explored previously unsurfed waves in the remote Arrow Archipelago.
I have searched Sumatra for orangutans, tracked down tigers, and informed communities across the island about the vast array of mythical creatures, spirits and hantu (ghosts) that seem to occupy every corner of this fascinating archipelago. We talked about the amount.
Indonesian cruiser Phinisi
Of course, frequent boat trips were required to traverse this vast archipelago of 13,466 islands.
The southeastern coast of Sulawesi is the traditional home of the Bugis, an ethnic group once feared for pirates who, according to legend, brought the word “Boogeyman” into the childhood nightmares of millions. .
Today, the Bugis (and the closely related Konjo) continue to build majestic Sulawesi schooners known as Phinisi.
These ships are often the only viable way for travelers to visit Indonesia’s most remote islands, delivering tourism benefits to isolated and underrepresented communities without leaving lasting impacts. can bring.
Plus, there’s an irresistible romance to exploring the paradise islands with bare feet under sail on the warm teak deck.
Sulawesi’s Teluk Pal Festival is an intoxicating explosion of noise and color.
While I’ve explored parts of the Ring of Fire on a 65-meter luxury Phinisi (the largest traditional Sulawesi schooner ever built) called Lamima, I’ve also sailed in infinitely inferior environments.
Among them was a traditional fishing boat we had hired to explore the Komodo Islands, rigging a hammock in the hold of a cargo ship and sailing the Kapuas River (the longest in Indonesia at 1,143 kilometers) for six days.
Three times in the last 20 years, I have taken a riverboat trip to the true heart of Borneo and have come to think of Kapua as the Indonesian Amazon.
far from the weary road
Despite extensive logging and oil palm devastation, the rainforest beyond the jungle town of Putusibau is one of the world’s greatest jungle adventures. With a local Daang Dayak guide, we paddled a dugout canoe into an unknown valley near the very center of Borneo in search of Kalimantan’s last rhino.
Indonesia is listed as the second most biodiverse country on earth (after Brazil) and boasts more mammal species than any other country in the world.
From wildlife markets in North Sulawesi, to tiger reserves in Sumatra, to marine reserves in Wakatobi, I was constantly reminded of the fact that almost a quarter of Indonesia’s 667 mammals are listed as ‘endangered’. .
Seattle to Tierra del Fuego, or Paris to Bangkok, at the end of the trek to the border of Papua New Guinea in this case, by the time you reach the easternmost point of the Far East.
But thanks to the warm welcome that greeted me in every community, I was not exhausted.
In fact, I wished I could have taken “rubber time” and twisted it…and I would have gladly redone the journey.