Indonesia is straight up spectacular and you should make every effort to visit next summer, or at some point in your life. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a close connection to the country for my entire life.
My mom has been running an Indonesian handcraft and artwork store for the past 21 holiday seasons in Philadelphia. She traveled back and forth from country to country for the past three decades, finding a second home in Ubud, an art-centered town in the highlands of Bali. Ubud took the spotlight in 2010, when it was featured as the “love” location in the Julia Roberts film, “Eat, Pray, Love.” By my fourteenth birthday, I had visited Indonesia seven times before taking a seven year break to get through high school and start college. After my hiatus, I spent three weeks there this past May (and a little bit in Malaysia, which is a fine country in its own right). The hiatus lasted too long, so I’m going to get into why you should visit:
1. Indonesian food overwhelms your mouth in the best way possible. The layering of spices and textures in a Balinese meal makes even the best Chinese take-out pale in comparison. I wish there was an Indonesian food joint in Storrs, or even the Hartford area, that I could recommend (if you know one let me know). However, even if there was one it wouldn’t lay a candle to a bite of beef rendang from a hole-in-the-wall in Bali. I’m rarely elitist outside of my pretentious music taste, but I’ll stand firm on this hill. Indonesian food is bomb.
2. Bali is maneuverable for westerners without being overly touristy, and MAN is it affordable. You can get a decent hotel for the equivalent of 15 bucks a night and a nice one for 30 dollars. There were times I paid five dollars for a full dinner, and a great one at that.
3. If you’re into leveling your inner chakra, Ubud is the de facto spiritual center of the country. I’d wager there are more yoga studios than coffee shops and more health food stores than burger chains. On a similar note, the religious tapestry of the country is marbled with astonishing temples, mosques and other spiritual centers at every turn. Indonesia is the largest Islamic country in the world, but Bali (my main island) is 90 percent Hindu. Flores, which lies about four islands to the east, is mostly Christian due to missionary involvement. It’s all beautiful and it’s all worth witnessing.
4. Like beaches? Bali’s got you covered. There are touristy, Miami Beach-style beach towns, serene isolated shores you need to walk miles to get to and everything in between. If you’re a surfer, you’ll enjoy Kuta, Bali’s premier surf spot and party central. Make sure you bring sunscreen!
5. Last but not least, the people. Indonesians are as welcoming as your mother and treat you like you would treat a fellow Husky. If you even learn a little bit of the language, Bahasa Indonesia, you’ll be in even better graces. Even though it’s the fourth biggest country in the world, you’ll never feel lost.
That’s my pitch for Indonesia. If it sways you, make sure to show me pictures of your adventure next fall! Selamat siang (good afternoon)!
Daniel Cohn is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.