Indonesia Dreaming: Yoga, Culture and Adventure

As Portland gets deeper into rainy autumn, my mind always turns to warm escapes. So today’s post involves daydreaming about Indonesia, a country I haven’t visited for a while but would love to see again. From Bali to Bandung, Indonesia has tons of yoga retreats, nature spots and soft adventure opportunities. Here are a few intriguing Indonesia travel ideas I’ve recently come across.

Yoga in Bali

Bali Fruit

I feel a major smoothie coming on.

Okay, this is obvious. Bali seems to have more yoga retreats than anywhere in the world, except, perhaps, Costa Rica. This is also a top spot for aspiring teachers to do their teacher training. The artsy town of Ubud is yoga central, with top studios like The Yoga Barn and lots of vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

Raja Ampat Islands

Raja Ampat corals

Corals of Raja Ampat

While I love to snorkel, I haven’t yet got my diving certification. But if I ever get to the Raja Ampat islands in West Papua, at the intersection of the Pacific and Indian oceans, I’ll have to take the plunge. Sometimes described as a “species factory,” divers find 1,000 types of fish swimming around 540 types of coral. This is the richest coral reef on earth, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

Borneo Wildlife

I’ve always wanted to go to this wild island. According to the World Wildlife Fund website, 222 different mammals make their home in Borneo, including 44 that live nowhere else in the world. Sun bears, clouded leopards and orangutans all make their home here. They even have a squirrel that’s bigger than a cat! Borneo also hosts lots of yoga retreats. So if you want to be more original than all the people going to Bali, Borneo could be your place.

Bandung, West Java

Padma Hotel Bandung

View from Padma Hotel Bandung — Who would think it was so close to a major city?

While I love to be in nature, I also like to check out cities. And despite the mixed legacy of colonialism in Southeast Asia, I love colonial architecture. Bandung, Indonesia’s third largest city, is known for art deco and colonial architecture, shopping, the culture of a university town, great coffee, but also significant pollution. If my travels take me there, I found a gorgeous-looking hotel on the edge of town. Drooling over photos of the Padma Hotel Bandung on the hotel’s website, I’m

Padma Hotel Bandung poolside

Padma Hotel Bandung poolside

impressed by how the builders managed to incorporate so many nature views of lush green valley and volcanoes into a property so close to a thriving city. You can find good deals from Traveloka, Indonesia’s travel search engine, for Padma Hotel Bandung or other hotels, flights, etcetera.

 

Saint Peter’s Cathedral in Bandung

Old churches are one of my favorite types of place to visit, especially Catholic churches. Bandung has St. Peter’s Cathedral, a 1920s neogothic cathedral designed by C.P. Wolff Schoemaker. This Dutch architect is responsible for some of the other important Art Deco buildings in Bandung, including the Villa Isola and the Hotel Preanger. He’s been called the Frank Lloyd Wright of Indonesia.

 

Bandung Tea Growing Region

Malabar Tea Plantation Bandung

Malabar Tea Plantation in West Java. Photo by Julie Daniel.

Last time I visited Indonesia, I failed to visit a tea growing region. Next time I’d like to get up in the cooler hills where tea is grown. The tea region around Bandung looks lovely for hiking, and there’s even an annual Bandung Tea Festival.

The Dragons of Komodo

Komodo dragon

Why do I think these guys are so handsome?

This is probably an inappropriate place for a vegetarian to visit — the dragons are known for tearing apart live goats — but I’ve always wanted to see Komodo dragons in their native land. As a child growing up in San Diego, I loved to visit Komodo dragons at the San Diego Zoo. I’ve heard there’s even a yoga and diving cruise that visits Komodo Island. Yoga in the morning, diving during the day. But wait…don’t those big lizards swim? Maybe I’ll stay on deck.

Papua New Guinea Culture

My first ever glimpse of Indonesia was a refueling stop in Biak, New Guinea. It was the middle of the night, but a bunch of local people came out to sing and dance for the tourists. I remember the night was hot, I’d been awake forever, and the locals had really big hair. Indeed, the word “Papua is supposedly derived from the Malay word papuwah, which means fuzzy hair.

Then I went on to Bali and Java, which seemed nothing like my quick stop in Biak. I would love to go back and delve into the culture of New Guinea, which is so different from other parts of Indonesia.

 

 

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