Indonesia: dangerously beautiful
If we only believe the sensationalism of Fox News, CNN America and other media outlets, Indonesia is the kind of country a lot of people might want to avoid. Historically, it has made world headlines for all the wrong reasons – plane crashes, violent protests, terrorist bombings and large-scale natural disasters.
But I can tell you that Indonesia is dangerous only for those who are totally risk-averse; those who do not want to board a plane for fear it will crash, or speak to any stranger on the assumption that they have suspicious motives. Indonesia is fatal to those without a sense of humour, those who have little patience, and those afraid of people different from themselves.
As mindful travellers, we do not have to fear the tectonic plates grinding against each other far beneath our feet. These same natural forces have shaped Indonesia and given its islands their awe-inspiring scenery. When they erupt from time to time, the 120-odd active volcanoes bring disruption to daily life, but they continue to bless this nation with fertile soils that sustain immense numbers of people.
Today – August 17, 2015 – marks 70 years since Indonesia’s proclamation of independence after World War II. I feel honoured to celebrate this day in the very country I love the most. I love how Indonesia has welcomed me with open arms and taken me as one of its own. I love the way this nation gathers influences from India, China, Arabia, even Europe, and absorbs them into the indigenous cultures. That eclecticism is reflected in the regional cuisines, languages, traditions and belief systems.
For me, the most dangerous aspect of Indonesia is its sheer beauty. My passport is filled with stamps and visas from Indonesia because I keep coming back for more. I come for the cultural and linguistic diversity; the smoking volcanoes that pierce the clouds; the pure white and pink-sand beaches; the richness of its reefs and marine life; and last but not least, Indonesia’s warm-hearted people.
In this post, I want to share 24 photos that show a glimpse of the Indonesia I know and love. Most are from my previous travels but a fair number were taken on this current trip. If you haven’t already been, I hope that someday you too will experience these wonders firsthand. ◊