Alluring Indonesia- Bali, Bromo, Jepara and Jakarta

Nervous and apprehensive Yin and I descended into the Indian Ocean. Down beneath the water my eyes started hurting like never before. I looked up I couldn't ascend and I couldn't remain there because my eyes were too painful.

March 10, 2017, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.10,No. 14. March 10,2017, (Falgun 27, 2073)

Indonesia is impressive, different, entertaining, unique, mesmerizing, cheap yet we get the feeling of being rich and not intimidating. For about nine hundred dollars I spent twelve days in Indonesia. The air tickets cost me extra. Not to mention Yin and I took an open water diving course and explored the water world according to our abilities and experience. That alone cost us about four hundred dollars each. But it was worth every cent. Yin and I are certified divers now.

Under water is an interesting exploration. We swam with different shapes and sizes of colored fish in the Indian Ocean. We reached a depth of around 10 meters for around half an hour for each dive. Diving has been a different experience altogether.

The second, third and fourth divings were much relaxed and rewarding. But the first diving almost brought tears into my eyes. Nervous and apprehensive Yin and I descended into the Indian Ocean. Down beneath the water my eyes started hurting like never before. I looked up I couldn't ascend and I couldn't remain there because my eyes were too painful. Later I was told by Agus, our instructor, that the pain was from the shampoo that was not cleaned properly in the mask. The colorful world of fish and coral in the Indian Ocean is definitely alluring. The sights we chose for diving was Jepun Point and Blue Lagoon in Padang Bai, Bali.

Most people have heard of Bali so much. It's one of their dream destinations. Yes, I was lucky to have made it there with six of my buddies. The original idea to go to Bali was conceived in U's mind. U is our Indonesian classmate at East China University of Political Science and Law in Shanghai. When the idea was floated many of us showed enthusiasm to go. However, only committed six of us did make it. U our host, Yin from Malaysia, Dimitri from Belarus, Uno from Mongolia and his wife Saruul and I. We also extended our travel itinerary to go to Jakarta from Bali. Yin accompanied us only when we were in Bali.

Bali is unique in every aspect. One of the most fascinating things for me was Bali is a Hindu settlement. I could see girls offering prayers every morning in the worship place infront of their houses. Even more interesting is the fact that Hindus in Bali eat beef. Not all of them, of course. They are not encouraged to eat but nonetheless eating beef is accepted. In Nepal and India eating beef by a Hindu is beyond imagination. Out of more than two hundred and sixty million population of Indonesia almost 1.69% are Hindus. More than ninety percent of Balinese are Hindus. There are many scenic temples with quite unique architectures. The temples offer the same meditative, peaceful and tranquil environment that other worship places offer.  Temple Daya Tarik Wisata Tanah Lot Tabanan is situated in the shore of Indian Ocean with breathtaking view. It reminded me of Vivekananda Rock Memorial in Kanyakumari, India, where Swami Vivekananda is said to have attained enlightenment.

From Bali we headed to Bromo mountain. U insisted on calling it a mountain though I didn't think 2329 meter high enough to call a mountain. After a drive of almost ten to twelve hours we reached Bromo. Bromo is an active volcano in Java island. We had to get up early to watch the sunrise - which I missed. Then we headed to Bromo mountain. The intimidating sound from the craters was alluring but the air full of sulphur wasn't pleasant. Mist played a spoilsport because we couldn't see the pit of the volcano. When we realized we wouldn't have a proper view we decided to continue our journey to Jepara. Jepara is where U resides these days. For 420,000 to 450,000 rupiah we got into a luxurious hotel d'SEASON Premiere. The swimming pool was so tempting that we were compelled to take a plunge at eleven in the night. It was a tiring ride of thirteen hours and a refreshing plunge into the swimming pool. The next day we loitered around the beach and did our swimming sessions. U drove us around the city and some of us did some shopping. The highlight of the shopping was batik clothes. We stayed in Jepara for four nights. On the last day of our stay we went on a boat ride to a near island where we did a bit of snorkeling too. The water wasn't as clear as in Blue Lagoon, Padang Bai, Bali. It was then I realized the importance of a diving spot.

It wasn't easy for us to leave the peace, quietness and comfort of d'SEASON Premiere hotel for a bustling Jakarta. It was an hour flight from Semarang to Jakarta. Semarang is two hours bus ride from Jepara. However, U's sister Dani and her husband Yul made our Sunday a fun day in Central Jakarta. We visited museums, saw 'flying man' in the street and I took photos with him. I am still unable to understand how the man could float in the air with support of just a stick. We had different varieties of coffee from Indonesia, visited and offered prayers at Mesjid Istiqlal which is spacious enough for two hundred thousand devotees to offer prayer at one time. We also offered prayers at a Catholic cathedral just infront of the mosque. In the evening we went to Monas which boasts of a view of Jakarta. Unfortunately we couldn't wait for one and half hour to have the view. A little disappointed we came back to hotel from Merdeka Square where Monas is situated. We did have a pleasant evening walk in the square though.

Few of the most interesting things that is worth mentioning in Indonesia apart from the diving experience is the fact that inter-religious marriage is not recognized by Indonesian government after 1974. Personally I also got the feel of being a millionaire. $1 is equivalent to about 13,225 rupiah. The warm weather offers a lot of activities inter alia, swimming, diving, snorkeling, lying by the beach and enjoying the cool breeze from the sea in the evenings. I also did a bit of sauna and got a body massage.

Indonesia is affordable and Nepalese are exempted from visa for thirty days. Though I was required to show my supporting documents of hotel reservation and return tickets. I also felt like a victim of a random check when my bag was searched while others were let out. But personal grudges can be set aside to not spoil the memories from Bali, Bromo volcano, Jepara and Jakarta.

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