The MODERN – A section of downtown Jakarta, Southeast Asia’s largest city, and (RIGHT) the TRADITIONAL – marvellous kids at Pak Udjo’s Angklung Music School in Bandung.
G’day. I’m Doug Cole, an Aussie transplanted to Indonesia a couple of decades ago, who decided I didn’t really want to go home.
Let's talk about the REAL Indonesia
I’m one of many thousands of Westerners seduced into becoming a fulltime expatriate by this wonderfully diverse and fascinating country.
Complete with Indonesian partner, a bunch of beautiful kids and deep Indonesian friendships.
Every day here is a good day – even the bad ones.
I remember a conversation I had with my now deceased Mum about five years into my time in Indonesia.
In one of our periodic phone chats she asked, “Doug, when are you going to come home?”
I found myself responding – “I don’t know Mum. I really haven’t thought about it. To tell you the truth, I have never been happier at any time in my life than I am here.”
There was a pause, and I could sense her disappointment through the ether. Then she said: “Well, that’s really wonderful.” It was a kind and gracious mother’s response.
I realized it was also the first time I had expressed, even to myself, just how much I had been impacted by living, exploring, and learning about Indonesia and its warm and welcoming people.
I nearly turned around and left on day 1
I still have a quiet chuckle to myself when I think back to the day I first arrived in Indonesia. I travelled by ferry across the Strait from Singapore to the nearby island of Batam in 2000.
The awful facilities, the disorganization, and a rabble of touts and urgers at the old Batu Ampar ferry terminal were a huge culture shock. So much so that I really did seriously consider immediately getting back on the boat. But that’s a story for another time.
Enough to say that, like so much in Indonesia, that awful old terminal, and the disturbing ‘welcome’ I experienced disappeared years ago. As you can see from the pctures above, they have been replaced by new and modern facilities and smooth and efficient services.
For the record my background is journalism with an interest in politics and economics. I have lived, worked, and/or spent time in every mainland state of Australia. I have worked and travelled widely in the USA and lived there for four years.
I have lived, worked, and travelled in Indonesia for most of the years from 2002 and I have also visited Mexico, New Zealand and the Pacific, Northern Europe, and, of course, most of Southeast Asia.
Why do I care so much about Indonesia?
In part it is because I was born curious. I want to know what’s beyond the next mountain range, sea, or national border.
And I want to know what makes historical events and movements happen, and how societies evolve. I like to ponder where it all might lead.
For anyone this way inclined, Indonesia happens to be one of the great places to be.
I know others share my curiosity. But sometimes they are nervous – nah, make that scared – to explore exotic ‘places unknown’… and in their mind Indonesia is such a place. This regardless of facts that show otherwise.
If this sounds like you then I am hoping the information in these pages will give you the confidence to put all that useless stuff aside. To come discover what you are missing. It’s easy and it’s awesome.
Indonesia is widely misunderstood, and little known in much of the Western world.
It has consistently had a bad rap from ill-informed media, academic commentators, and politicians. Or, perhaps worse, much of the time it has simply been ignored.
This has created a climate in which many Western people believe Indonesia is dangerous. It is NOT and the articles on this site will explain why.
Some of those ‘dangerous’ Indonesians – three of my kids with Grandma and friends and neighbors enjoying a kampung picnic under the cacao trees.
Why this website - and how can it help you?
This website happened because I became so frustrated at how so many of the Western people I met and talked with knew so little about the REAL Indonesia.
Furthermore, the little they thought they ‘knew’ was often just plain wrong – so much so that it was a barrier to their even considering visiting any of Indonesia beyond Bali and its immediate neighbors.
Bali and the neighboring Lombok, and the Gili Islands are beautiful, and together they represent one of the world’s great holiday destinations.
But they are just tiny dots in the world’s longest archipelago of stunningly beautiful tropical islands – the island chain extends for more than 5,000km (that’s 3,200 miles in American).
There are more than 17,000 other islands filled with fascinating places. Around a third of them are home to some of the world’s most diverse and interesting cultures and peoples
Yet most of the people of the Western world don’t know about them – and they don’t care about them because they don’t know. Or they are so ill-informed that they are afraid to consider a visit.
Tens of thousands of Western travelers are missing out on experiences they would treasure forever, and the warm and wonderful people of Indonesia are missing out on the benefits they would enjoy if more visitors came to their beautiful country.
Indonesia should be at the top of bucket lists for serious travelers who have inquiring minds and want authentic experiences – and who want to enjoy them in safety and comfort.
This website will tell you the why, what, where and how.
Key things you can learn about on this website
- What to expect when you visit Indonesia beyond Bali and why you are likely to be both surprised and delighted.
- The most stunning and interesting places and experiences in Sumatra and Java – the how and where of what to include in your itinerary.
- What you need to know about local customs and etiquette to ensure you do not embarrass yourself or your hosts.
- How to ensure language will not be a problem, even in areas away from the bigger towns and cities.
- Simple precautions to ensure the safety and security of yourself and your things.
- All the essentials – Visa and Customs regulations, health services, staying in touch with the folks at home, managing your holiday money, and more.
- Some of the best, most interesting and amazingly affordable hotels you can stay in at amazingly affordable rates.
- Where and how to experience one of the world’s best and most affordable quality shopping scenes – it’s mind blowing.
- How and where to enjoy the pampering of your dreams for a fraction of what you would expect to pay at home.
- All about Indonesia’s food cultures – the cuisines, the dishes, the places, and the extraordinarily low prices.
- How to get around in Indonesia – the travel options, how they work and what they cost (clue – very little)
- Why your itinerary should include at least one train journey in Java – it will be a highlight of your visit.
You will always know something about what you are seeing or experiencing and what makes it interesting and important BEFORE you go. And you won’t later be regretting you missed great experiences because nobody told you about them.
More information about Indonesia
You can readily access a complete directory of our topics and articles by clicking HERE. The lists are growing because travellingindonesia.net is a work in progress and always will be.
Most content is being adapted from a book I have largely completed during the Covid lockdown and hope to publish during 2022. I will constantly be adding more new information and updating existing travellingindonesia.net content – that’s one of the benefits of online publishing. We also hope to feature guest writers.
You can be notified about new articles and topics as they are posted, together with updates, new opportunities for travelling in Indonesia, any changes in travel regulations, special events and festivals, and other matters of interest by subscribing to our periodic Information Indonesia update bulletins. Simply enter your details in one of the forms appearing on our pages.
The bulletins are sent as emails. We promise to include only substantive information and not to flood your inbox. You can unsubscribe at any time.