With over 108,000 kilometres of beaches, 18,000 islands, 740 different languages and 400 volcanoes, just five full days to discover the largest archipelago in the world seemed a little daunting.
Yet with a jam-packed itinerary from Garuda Indonesia and Panorama Destination, we set out to show the five UK journalists the culture and traditions of Java, Komodo Dragons in Flores and stalwart Bali.
Starting the trip on a high, we were upgraded to Business Class, making the 14 hour non-stop flight from London Heathrow to Jakarta extremely enjoyable with unlimited beverages, five-star food and built in back massagers.
The first stop was Jogjakarta, where the first of many 4:00am starts began. The early morning wake up was worth it to see the sunrise over Borobudur, the sacred 8th century UNESCO World Heritage site and largest Buddhist monument in the world.
Before leaving Java and heading to Flores, we learnt how to make Batik (Indonesian silk), explored the local village of Candirejo, tried our hand at playing the gamelan (traditional musical instrument) and even tasted Kopi Luwak (coffee part digested and defecated by the palm civet!).
Once in Flores, we enjoyed another early start to be transported by speedboat to what looked like Jurassic Park. Arriving at Komodo Island, we were accompanied by several rangers with rather feeble looking sticks that we were assured were the best form of defence against the venomous lizards. We began our trek with eyes peeled for Komodo Dragons as well as deer, buffalo, boar and snakes, and before long we were lucky enough to spot ‘The Dragon’ – a definite highlight of the trip.
Finally, we ended with two nights in Bali to explore the hip coastal resort of Seminyak and stayed in Katamama, a trendy hotel with influences from all over the world, including similarities with the much loved Shoreditch! We enjoyed a final dinner at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and devoured a meal of traditional Indonesian cuisine; the perfect way to end an adventurous five days.
By Libby Allan