Indonesia: Like No Place on Earth By Bill Harbin Jr.
Life on the other side of the world is like living in another world. If you look at a globe facing North America the small islands of Indonesia would be exactly on the other side. Twelve hours difference in time. Driving is done on the opposite side of the road. The pollution fills your lungs in the city. The calm life soothes your mind in the country.
There are 17,500 small islands and eight main islands that make up Indonesia. In addition to this country being way different from America, each island has its own unique personality. The island of Java is the home of Jakarta with the big capital city. The famous area of Bali can be found on Bali Island. Medan is a located on Sumatra island and is a smaller city than Jakarta. A glimpse of the exciting real differences of these places is given here during my stay with the locals.
Every Day Is a New Adventure
Staying with my nephew gave me an insider’s view of Jakarta. I will never forget his quote about Indonesia saying “Every day is a new adventure.” Driving in traffic seems more dangerous than bullfighting. Thousands of motorcycles seem to attack your car. Nobody follows traffic rules yet I rarely saw an accident. It is like the cars honk to communicate with each other and no drivers get upset.
Jakarta has way rich people and way poor people. There are mansions by the sea. Fancy, modern hotels light up the city at night. Great nightlife and restaurants are all over the place. Poor people live in makeshift housing like a war zone with no zoning restrictions. This place provides continuous entertainment by people watching. A motorcycle goes by with 4 passengers. A bicycle is seen carrying 6 huge crates of eggs with none broken.
Bali is a Step Back in Time
Like a tourist I stayed at a resort on Bali. It was shocking to see our taxi searched including mirrors on a stick looking for bombs underneath. After that, we entered the most peaceful resort to be found anywhere in the world. No sounds of planes, trains or automobiles. Just the calm breezes of the ocean flowing over our veranda as seagulls flew by.
My relatives recommended a local restaurant that was mind-blowing. You picked out your fish from the catch that day. Watch them grill it, wrap it with banana leaves, then eat at a table in the sand directly in front of the ocean waves. Bali is the ultimate place to escape back to the past when life was simpler.
Smaller City Life
Medan is not a big city like Jakarta but the same crazy drivers and traffic. Almost every home is also a business. Not much unemployment here, they work where they live. The front porch may be a restaurant. Fruit is displayed attractively in baskets in one yard. The next home may repair motorcycles. I was entertained just looking at the home businesses.
It is exciting just watching people live their lives. A bus may be seen with children riding on top. Street vendors sell strange looking foods. Tropical fruits that look like aliens are for sale. Flowers like you would not believe are everywhere. If you want a unique experience, visit Indonesia. You will find a new adventure everyday.