Friday, November 6, 2009

Indonesia and the Forgotten Islands

I spent the last 14 days traveling along the coast of Indonesia, all the way from Singapore to the the "Forgotten Islands" which are the islands east of Bali and north of East Timor. There is not too much here anymore except nature, but that at least is beautiful. We just went past Alor, OK we had to drop of a Medivac, but it gave us at least some time to enjoy the beauty of the island a bit. There is a lot of farming going on, bananas, exotic fruit and tomatoes. Of course I was able to taste a lot of local cuisine, the local fruit and cooked a lot. What didn't happen? I never got an upset stomach, everything was fresh and nice, so surely I was lucky there! Unfortunately I had no time to get out to the markets lately but I believe the next market on a small island is the size of a square 5 by 5 meters! We will see!

Oh, I am lucky. The market was actually not too bad, there wasn't a lot of food, but it will get us by the next couple of days. Of course nobody spoke English but somehow we managed to get what we needed. I know that we have been ripped off, but the fruit and vegetables were still very cheap for western standards, A whole Papaya, weighing about 3 kg was just 1 USD, so no complain. Of course we did not have enough Indonesian Rupia, so I thought I could change in the local bank.....I was asked to leave as they did not want to change. So, what now? There was a little shop next to the bank and to my luck, it was Chinese owned and I was offered an extremely bad exchange rate, but luckily after a bit of negotiating it was not that bad anymore.

We spent all our money (60USD) and went back to the ship. All the bags were hanging on a hook on the motor bike, which was at the same time our taxi..... There are not many cars on the island and it is actually fun to travel on the motor bikes.

There are small islands everywhere and many of them are actually inhabited. This part if Indonesia is more Catholic not as much Muslim as the rest of the country. Except Bali of course where people are mainly Hindu.

Yamdena is another island we visited, really in the middle of nowhere, but beautiful beaches and extremely friendly people. It is such a pleasure to be here, it is a bit like time stood still, there are the old traditions and no one is in a hurry. Many guests bought souvenirs here...mainly wood carvings....they will not have a lot of fun coming back to Australia as the quarantine regulations are so strict and one is not allowed to import any wooden carvings, or wood in general for this matter. They will have to either dump them or get them gassed, at a fairly high cost of course.

Overall I think Indonesia is worth a visit, a long visit. Food is fantastic, the markets are beautiful, nature amazing, there are world heritage sited like Komodo Island and Borobudur, an amazing temple, there is Bali and so many lovely spots, an absolutely amazing country. Many people travel on Ferries like the one in the picture, I am not sure how safe it is, but am not so sure about the safety. I am now on my way down south to Australia, first Thursday Islands and then Cairns, but more about that and a lot more recipes later

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