Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Indonesia-- try it! (part 1)

Indonesia--- not just Bali, although you can’t ignore that beautiful place. The vast archipelago stretches thousands of kilometres from East to West with more than 20,000 islands. It is a land of many cultures and many religions. It may be described as the world’s largest Islamic nation, but it actually has more Christians than Australia and New Zealand, combined. Indonesia is an awakening giant, economically. Over the next few years this diverse country is going to make its presence felt. We in New Zealand need to discover this reality, just like Australia has, but for very different reason.
Indonesia is Australia’s nearest large nation, a fact that they are struggling to come to terms with. There are serious stumbling blocks, like ‘people smuggling’ that need to be addressed as well as a huge market. This is where NZ needs to make plans for a possible bonanza in our bilateral trade relationship. Hopefully this is a two way process.

For many years we have been travelling to Bali, apart from when the focus was on the terrible bombings that killed and maimed so many, most of them local people. Recently the Indonesian Government appears to have gained the upper hand in the struggle against internal and foreign inspired terrorist attacks. Jakarta, the crazy, colourful and increasingly tourist focused capital is home to many expats, living and working in the sprawling city. In the space of a decade, there has been massive change and improvement in infrastructure. Big business is alive and well.

Look beyond Jakarta and Bali and the choice is mindboggling. Thousands of beautiful islands are crying out for tourists. Yes, the services, away from the main resorts may be basic, but read---- cheap. Your dollar will go a long way. Even in the main tourist resorts, you won’t break the bank. Plan your trip well, make sure you have good medical insurance and maybe employ the services of a guide (very reasonably priced) and driver and you will be fine.

Indonesians want tourists. As this huge country grows, expect to see the choices available blossom, along with the economy. The smiles will be genuine and if you want to communicate, it is not hard to find an English speaking local, keen to try out their language skills.