MESSAGE: Indonesia – Coral Triangle *VIDEO*

Erin_over_fallsI spent my time in Indonesia touring the Nusa Tenggara Islands (translation: Southeast Islands), located just east of Bali.

The Nusa Tenggara Islands are volcanic islands. The East islands’ volcanoes are still active, while the West’s are dormant. The dividing line between East & West is also along tectonic plates, with the Eastern islands on the Asiatic plate and the Western falling on the Australian plate. The two island groups have vastly different flora and fauna despite begin so close together.

MEET (Cool Meet Ups) – The best place to meet interesting people is undoubtedly the sun deck of Perama boat. We had 26 travelers on our “Hunting Komodo with Camera” tour and everyone was a very seasoned traveler with tons of great stories to share.

When the weather was good, we’d all hang out either on the boat’s sun deck or back on the “terrace” (reserved for non-smokers). Most important there was plenty of enthusiasm for all of the tour adventures. A great bunch of people on a fun boat in an exotic locale — Where else would you want to hang out?!

Parama_Boat_Sun_DeckEAT (Tasty Eats) – I totally dig Indonesian Kampong Makan or “village food.” In particular, I’m a fan of vrag vrag, which is a warm salad made of green beans, carrots, cabbage, and bean sprouts. The slaw has friend onions on top and is mixed with freshly shredded coconut. Yum!

SEE (Must-see Sights) – The Nusa Tenggara islands are part of what the World Wildlife Foundation calls the “Coral Triangle” — an area covering 1.6 billion acres (about half the size of the U.S. land mass). The Coral Triangle comprises islands from Indonesia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Malaysia and the Solomon Islands and hosts more than 3,000 species of fish, 500 coral species (more than 75% of all know coral!) and 6 of the world’s 7 known species of sea turtles.

The marine life is simply incredible in the Coral Triangle! There’s no need to dive, since you can see amazing corals and fish by simply snorkeling. The vividness of the colors and abundance of fish, turtle, and rays is awesome! If you love the ocean, you need to visit the Coral Triangle!

SHOP (Gotta Have) – I’m completely enamored with Indonesian ikat fabrics. These woven fabrics are found all over the world, but I really like the Indonesian ethnic colors and motifs. I liked them so much, I bought 3 table clothes for my non-existent dining room set in my non-existent house! I also bought 2 beautiful scarves to add to my traveling pack. Nice!

Erin_and_Komodo_Day_1ACTIVITY (Gotta Do) – I can’t speak highly enough of my 2-days spent in Komodo National Park viewing the legendary Komodo dragons. Check out the dragon video and my views on “Komodo Dragon Slayer Me!” Definitely a “must do” if you ever make it to Indonesia. Or if you’re like me, make it your sole reason for visiting the island nation!

GIVE (Greatest Need) – Indonesia’s education system is definitely improving and surprisingly high for a developing country. In fact in 2005, Indonesia’s Ministry of National Education Ministry of Religious Affairs reported that on average of 90% of all Indonesians were literate (94% of males / 86% of females).

While waiting for my flight in Jakarta, I met a woman and her two daughters. The mother was fully veiled, wearing gloves and socks. She was also wearing sunglasses most of the time, so there was not one inch of her skin that was exposed. (Women wearing this form of Muslim dress are sometimes called the derogatory term “post box” since only the slit of her eyes can be seen).

Muslim_Girl_StudentsThis woman came to sit next to me and introduced herself and her daughters. She was very well educated and traveled (her husband was a pilot for an international airline and they lived abroad). She came from Sulawesi, a relatively under-developed region of Indonesia.

I was so impressed by her friendly outgoing nature and humor during our short conversation. Upon leaving, she gave me a hand shake (that was definitely learned in a rapper video) and wished me to be safe. I wished her the same as she and her daughters left for their lives overseas.

ENJOY (Extra Fun) – Kramat is a small island in the Western Nusa Tenggara china. Considered a “hard” Muslim island, I wore a t-shirt over my bathing suits to be respectful as we visited the island’s main attraction: a rope swing that dropped you over a waterfall, into the swirling waters below.

It was all fun and games, until my second jump when my feet hit the rocks at the bottom of the pool. Really? I’m only 5’2″! I thought the water would be deeper — Holy Moly that’s dangerous! And an especially long way from a hospital if you suffered any broken bones = Yikes!

Ignorance is bliss though….check out my first swing over the waterfall and hear my eardrum-bursting scream!

Indonesia is fabulous – great food, warm people, unsurpassed wildlife! So when are you going? Write and let me know!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, March 16th, 2011 and is filed under Asia Pacific, Messages by Country.

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