Forget Eat, Pray, Love: Ditch Bali from your bucket list and try what else Indonesia has to offer

For 15 years we had dreamed of ­visiting Bali but, usually 15 hours after we finally set feet on a island, we was withdrawal again.


It competence be Indonesia’s many select finish yet it creates adult usually 0.3 per cent of a outrageous archipelago, that spans 3 time zones and is as extended as mainland USA.

Abandoning my dream, we set off to try a other 99.7 per cent. Well, some of it.

A rather difficult debate had us drifting from London around Doha to Bali, on to Jakarta, and finally to a ultimate finish – Borneo.

That craft from Jakarta skimmed over a treetops of a immeasurable immature jungle, coated in a covering of obscurity and interrupted usually by a wide, grey stream snaking by a landscape.

We finally overwhelmed down in Borneo, during a tiny troops airfield in a remote city of Pangkalan Bun, where large mosques were grating out a call to request during sundown.

They were also a alarm time during 4am for a outing to a circuitously pier where we clambered aboard a klotok: a vessel on that we can spend days in a rainforest.

We sailed down a far-reaching stream for 15 minutes, thereafter took a pointy left into a soaring immature trees of Tanjung Puting National Park – as accidentally as yet bend onto an A road.

The vessel chugged along happily for hours. Suddenly a beam whispered: “There, in a trees!” as we came to a stop. An flexible orangutan swung from a branch, her tiny baby’s dark face peeking by a mass of orange hair.

She stared during us sensitively for a few mins as we snapped divided with a cameras and smartphones, thereafter retreated into a timberland out of sight.

There is something inexplicably enchanting about saying these informed creatures in a wild, now usually probable on Borneo and one other island, Sumatra, also in Indonesia.

We hopped off during a feeding sinecure and found a clearing in a trees with a tiny wooden height lonesome in bananas: an orangutan all-you-can-eat buffet.

Rangers’ scary screeches pierced a wet atmosphere as we waited, apropos increasingly prohibited and sticky, until a huge of a bend usually metres divided caused everybody to reason their breath.

Striding solemnly yet purposefully towards her lunch was another silent and baby, who accidentally staid down to taste their approach by a feast.


When we see these good apes’ remarkably tellurian eyes and mannerisms adult close, it’s unsurprising to hear we share 97 per cent of their DNA.

They even take their name from a Indonesian difference “orang”, definition person, and “hutan”, for forest.

At Camp Leakey reconstruction centre we met some-more “forest people” – and their babies – before returning to a klotok for a candlelit cooking baked by a organisation in a tiny galley.

We thereafter lay down underneath a wink night sky and wished on sharpened stars as we sailed past trees where fireflies glittered like angel lights; a ideal finish to a jungle adventure.

Making a approach down a stream of Tanjung Puting, Borneo
(Image: Getty)

A integrate of brief craft journeys easterly took us to a backpacker’s bliss of Labuan Bajo, on a island of Flores, where we donned tough hats to try a Batu Cermin cave: a limestone time plug filled with fossils and a few proprietor bats.

Thankfully, nobody told me about a bat-eating spiders until we left.

I spent a stately afternoon sipping cocktails by a pool during a lush Atlantis Beach Club, eventually boring myself divided from a lounger and on to a silt for a many monumental nightfall we have ever seen – and we adore a sunset.

Relaxing on a beach after a day of exploring
(Image: Nicola Oakley)

Dinner was during Kampung Ujung, a seafood market, where we ate succulent, sharp uninformed crab baked on a ride in front of a eyes, before resting a heads during a Komodo Boutique Hotel, a nation tiny place with desirable gardens.

If we have money to splash, sinecure your possess villa with a private pool during a upmarket Plataran review on a truly pleasing widen of beach.

The town’s categorical pull is a vessel rides to Komodo National Park, a usually place in a universe where dangerous dragons distortion in wait.

An early start meant we were on house to watch a sky transition from black to pinkish to blue, divulgence craggy, mud-brown islands rising menacingly out of a choppy waters around us.

This truly is Jurassic Park country.

To try Komodo we have to stay tighten to stick-carrying rangers who grin as they surprise we a outrageous lizards’ teeth and nails can slice by soothing tellurian flesh.

If that doesn’t kill you, their spit contains 57 forms of germ that can infer deadly and, improved still, they can run during 12mph. Fantastic.

It’s a final place on a earth we can still see a huge creatures
(Image: Getty)

Walking with a ears tuned in for any tiny sound, we shortly came opposite dual dragons dozing in a shade nearby a watering hole.

Our ranger motionless to captivate one from a doze by sanctimonious he had food and for one gut-wrenching impulse a beast, now watchful and feeling peckish, lerned his beady eye on us.


When another confidant lizard started walking a tiny too fast in a instruction on his squat legs, beating a atmosphere with his prolonged split tongue, a ranger sensitively advised: “Move. Now”.

I didn’t need to be told twice.

A discerning pitstop on beside Padar Island is rewarding if we can finish a sweaty 30-minute ride adult a high path.

(Image: Nicola Oakley)

Padar’s limit grants a overwhelming perspective along a spine from that 5 primitive beaches bend off to a left and right into a lustrous sea.

You’ll wish to cold off thereafter so provide yourself to a float during Pink Beach, named after a graphic colour combined by diminutive grains of red coral in a sand.

I popped on some flippers and a snorkel and non-stop my eyes to another universe underneath a waves, with large forms of fish – we giddily found Nemo and Dory – and charming coral moving with a violent tide. A lovely contrariety to a hot, gummy jungle.

In all honesty, we had no thought how immeasurable Indonesia unequivocally is – and conjunction do Indonesians. They’ve never managed to accurately count all of their islands yet a latest guess is some-more than 18,000.

By all means parasite Bali off your bucket list, yet cruise venturing beyond.

I know I’ll lapse one day. we usually wish it won’t take another 15 years.

What to eat in Indonesia

Everywhere we ride you’ll find a inhabitant dish, nasi goreng – juicy boiled rice –along with noodles, satay meats, uninformed fish, crab and duck baked in tasty, comfortable Asian spices.

Tempe, a surprisingly moreish fermented soya bean reduction that is deep-fried until crisp, is good value a try.

(Image: Nicola Oakley)

If we can hoop a heat, Indonesians adore portion adult their flavorful dishes with a play of sambal: an eye-watering red chilli salsa or paste. Those with a reduction fireproof taste competence cite a sweet, gummy sesame and soy salsa kecap, conspicuous “ketchup”.

Wash it all down with a lovely bottle of Bintang drink or a potion of Indonesian booze from pleasing Bali’s vineyards.

Flights to Indonesia

Qatar Airways flies to Jakarta around Doha from Heathrow, Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh from £337. qatarairways.co.uk
For inter-island flights go to Garuda Indonesia ( garuda-indonesia.com ) and Kalstar ( kalstaronline.com ).

Where to stay in Borneo and Komodo

Rooms during a Swiss-Belinn Pangkalan Bun hotel in Kalimantan start during £42 a night. swiss-belhotel.com

Rooms during a Komodo Boutique Hotel in Flores start during £30 a night. +62 812 1316 2968

Book tours in Borneo and Komodo

Dolphin Klotok Boat Service, Tanjung Puting National Park debate (for two) £590. orangutantours tanjungputing.com

Komodo National Park private debate (for two) with transfers, meals, guide, snorkel gear, transport, commemoration and fees £840. flores-komodotours.com

Find some-more information during indonesia.travel .

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