After consulting The Rough Guide to Indonesia and the Internet, here are some places I plan to visit when I’m in Indonesia. I also updated the map (interactive! add your own ideas!).
The capital city’s name means “City of Victory,” which probably holds bittersweet meaning after the riots of 1998 and Suharto’s resignation. I’m interested in the colonial architecture, the puppet museum, and the wooden schooners at Sunda Kelapa.
Borobudur is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Indonesia, and a major tourist attraction. It was built to represent Meru, the ordering of the cosmos, so that you start at the base–the real world–and end at the top–nirvana. Walking that literally spiritual path will be humbling, I’m sure, and all the more so because I hope to go on one of the few sunrise tours offered.
I’m not terribly interested in the party scene on the tourist-heavy island of Bali, but Ubud, a series of linked villages removed from the main scene, does intrigue me. The villagers are known for producing arts and various local crafts, and for preserving and maintaining the ancient culture of Bali. Apparently Elizabeth Gilbert went here in Eat, Pray, Love, although I didn’t remember that from the book (oh yeah I read it, and that is for another post), so it’s getting a lot more traffic than it used to, but maybe I’ll be there in the off season. I can’t wait to see the dancing!
Gunung Leuser National Park, Sumatra
Bukit Lawang is the starting point for trips into the jungle in this World Heritage site. The small village was wiped out in a flood caused by illegal logging in 2002, and is only just now getting back on its feet. There’s a big conservation effort going on in the park and around this village in particular, seen especially in the rehabilitating of formerly captive orangutans and releasing them back into the wild. Other rare species are also found here, and it seems like a good place to visit on an “ecotourist” kind of trip, since it supports local businesses and encourages conservation efforts as a good alternative to logging. It also seems to be on the way from Jakarta to Singapore.