Indonesia Travel, fond memories of the country

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Indonesia Travel

Starting from 2016, I’ve been doing my Indonesia travel yearly, except for this year due to the pandemic. I love the country. It’s beautiful people, great food and amazing culture is what makes me come back again and again. And this month of August is supposed to be time for my trip to this archipelago, just like back in 2016, 2018 and 2019 when I was traveling around. As Indonesia celebrated its National Day yesterday, it is fitting that I reminisce on my trips to this breathtaking country.

Bandung

I love this highland city. It’s cool climate, great food, Art Deco architecture and cheap shopping makes Bandung Jakarta’s weekend spot. We were driving and stopped for photos at one of the verdant tea estates in Pangalengan and found this man with an Indonesian flag atop a rock while his companion took some photos below. It was a beautiful sight amidst the green backgrop and dramatic too.

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Visitors at Kawah Putih, Bandung

Still in Bandung, a trip to Kawah Putih is a must. It’s a volcanic lake with a very surreal landscape. Literally, White Crater because of the water with a specific mineral content that embodies it the whitish color. The weather is cool too. It’s a popular tourist spot among locals and as a great venue for selfies and photos. You can sometimes smell rotten eggs, hydrogen sulfide, while wandering around.

Indonesia Travel
The cavernous hall of the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, the Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta

Jakarta

It was exactly a year ago that me and a friend visited the beautiful and modern architecture of Masjid Istiqlal in Jakarta. The structure was built in the International Style in 1978 and is the biggest in Southeast Asia. and named after the Arabic word for Independence. Just across the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Jakarta, this is a must visit when doing Indonesia Travel.

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A night at the square of Kota Tua in Jakarta where an event was ongoing

Kota Tua, Jakarta

We walked to the old quarter of Jakarta, Kota Tua late afternoon. The square at the center was teeming with locals waiting for a concert that was scheduled that night. This area was the former Batavia, the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies company when it was a Dutch colony. Now, the buildings serves as museums, and the place is a popular meeting place and where Indonesians congregate during weekends.

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Mounted police preparing for Indonesia’s National Day in Jakarta’s MONAS

Coming from Manila, I’ve always passed by Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and exactly two years ago, I arrived in the capital in the midst of the Indonesian National Day preparations. I just arrived in Gambir to buy a train ticket for Surabaya, my main destination and while walking around, I entered MONAS and saw these mounted policemen. I have not really explored Jakarta as I usually stay a day or two here before heading to the provinces.

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Telur gulung, literally, rolled eggs at a street food vendor outside Kota Tua, Jakarta’s historic center formerly known as Batavia

Food

Whenever I travel, food is one of the top reasons why I visit places. And Indonesia doesn’t disappoint. From martabak telur or manis, to telur gulung, to nasi goreng and a host of sumptuous Indonesian fare, there is always something for the visitor. I ate durians in Medan and had pangsit (akin to Iloilo’s molo pansit) at one of the local chinese restaurants. Indulged in cool drinks like es durian, es cincau hijau and had a taste of Bandung’s specialty coffees. Went for streetside breakfast of bubur ayam, mee goreng and other gorengan fare.

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Early morning traffic in Surabaya

Surabaya

The first time I visited Surabaya, second most populous city of Indonesia was just in transit to and from Makassar and Banyuwangi. Back in 2016, I got invited by the Ministry of Tourism. Two years later, I traveled here to explore more of the place. Though brief, I do want to come back. This was also the time that I intentionally didn’t bring my DSLR and laptop. What I had was just a carry on bag and my mobile phone.

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A massive street mural as backdrop to a bird enthusiast in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta

I’ve been wanting to visit this city and it only happened last year. It’s one of the must visit for an Indonesia Travel. Great food along Jalan Malioboro, stunning ancient temples during a day trip to Borobudur and Prambanan, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And there is a vibrant street art community with their beautiful works around the city.

Indonesia Travel
Afternoon procession in Bali

Bali

In 2017, I won in an online contest by the Ministry of Tourism with me and my brother getting invited to visit Bali for a three day food tour. We went to a market, cooked at a house, visited a kecak performance and I wandered around. I flew in from Bangkok a few days before the actual tour and wandered around late afternoon. As I was at the beach, a procession of Hindu faithful, Bali is the only island in Indonesia who are predominantly Hindu, passed by. I’m not sure if this is a regular thing but it added to the trip’s unexpected experiences.

Indonesia Travel
At the break of dawn atop Gunung Ijen in Banyuwangi

Banyuwangi

Of the three volcanoes I visited in Indonesia, Gunung Ijen was my first. It’s popular as a trekking site because of its blue flame, only one of two in the world. It was quite an experience as we started our trip at 1 AM, climbed the mountain in very cold temperatures to be able to see the blue flame before the break of dawn. It was a memorable climb. Did I make it? I wrote about it here.

Indonesia Travel, soon

Indonesia Travel is supposed to be an annual trip but because of this pandemic, I can only hope to visit again in the future. After all these lockdowns and quarantines. I’m looking at visiting Manado and the Toraja Highlands in Sulawesi. Banda Aceh and Padang in Sumatra. The Moluccas and East Nusa Tengara. And do a Borneo trip that will start in Tawau in Malaysia and end beyond Samarinda in Kalimantan, Indonesian Borneo. Soon.

Stan Cabigas helps businesses get qualified leads and more sales via Facebook Ads. He's also a photographer, blogger and writer based in Cebu, the Philippines. A true blue Cebuano, he makes stunning images and meaningful photo stories. His work has been published in local and international publications including National Geographic Magazine, Geo (Germany), Sunday Times Magazine (London). His personal Photography work has been exhibited in Asia and Europe including Paris, Seoul and around the ASEAN regional capitals. He is also a peripatetic traveler and has been to all 81 Philippines provinces.

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