Sitting in an airport…

Unquestionably the bane of a traveller’s life is the airport. It’s a necessary evil of course, and for many arrival at the airport signifies a special kind of excitement, as it portends travel, new experiences and of course, holidays.  

Much of the glamour has been lost, as airports become ever busier, security necessarily more onerous and a gourmet choice of a variety of fast food outlets constituting the sustenance options. Some airports – Dalaman in Turkey springs to mind as a particular offender – take the opportunity to delve into the traveller’s bank account, have a good rummage and disappear with lots of cash, leaving a particularly bitter taste in the mouth of visitors. 

So it’s always a pleasant surprise to find one that manages to actually make transiting the airport, well not a pleasure, that would be too much, but at least bearable, and even pain free. 

Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta does suffer from a lot of these problems of course, but there’s a major redevelopment of it under way, with the new Terminal 3 being the lead example.  Designed by Australian architects Woodhead, it is light, airy, spacious, the PA system actually works rather than the usual muffled drone that leads passengers to dash around in panic as they think they’re missing their flight. 


It is perhaps illustrative of the state of so many airports that this provokes some idle thoughts on a blog, but the plan is that this be the first stage of trying to turn the airport into a fully fledged hub to compete with the likes of Singapore.

If this is the model for the rest of the airport’s development, then bring it on. It’s really rather wonderful.

Off Again

Working on the principle that travel only fully seeps into the soul when done regularly, it’s time to set off again.  This time the itinerary will comprise Indonesia, and whereas the last visit was just a brief sojourn to Bali, this time it will be more extensive.

Jakarta is the first port of call, but most of it will be a journey through the tourist sites and attractions of this massive and highly populous country.  As ever, there will be updates on the trip as it unfolds, subject to wifi restrictions in the more isolated locations.

A new destination is the most exciting part of travelling, new experiences, sights and people offer a different perspective on our own lives.

See you on the other side.

Not just sun, sea and sand

It is a big part of it of course, and probably the principal attraction for many. However for a place to have a life beyond the nightclubs and bars there needs to be further attractions available, and particularly so for the long haul traveller, for whom there is usually no shortage of alternatives closer to home.

It is that which makes Bali different. A Hindu enclave in a Muslim country, the religious culture is central to so much of life there, every house almost has a temple, though naturally in the cities where space is at a premium they are much smaller. Out of town large parts of each home is given over to it, a startling sight for a western tourist undoubtedly. Equally, life is governed by consultation with the local temple, whether it be for marriage, births or more mundane matters. The visitor can partake in some of this, for many temples offer blessings. Initially, this sounds like the worst kind of cheesiness, a sop to those pretending to throw themselves into local life, but in reality it done rather well. Certainly these things are not done on a production line with numerous others alongside, but instead are very individual.

Belief is a different matter, but as an insight into the Balinese culture it does have value, for the elders will take their time over explaining the customs and what they mean for the local people.

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Some of the agriculture is given over to the growing of plants that act as offerings, which does give a clue to the scale of it all. Such donations can be seen all over the streets, small boxes containing numerous different items and with different meanings. Likewise the dashboard of the car will likely have the same. It is ubiquitous and it won’t be long before the tourist takes its presence for granted. Careful where you walk though.

Rice remains the staple crop and the terracing built in order to extract the widest area of husbandry is certainly an attraction. It is both beautiful and architecturally impressive. Yet most production is simply in the fields, and the farming is still largely by hand and unmechanised. It is somewhat inefficient certainly, to the point that rice is imported more cheaply than it can be produced locally, but a walk through those fields is a cheap but relaxing way to get the feel of a place.

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There are sights aplenty, particular when heading out of the main tourist areas, and plenty of activities too. Mount Agung is the highest peak on the island, and an active volcano considered one of the world’s most likely for a massive eruption in the next century. The volcanic activity historically is, of course a large part of the explanation for the exceptional fertility of the soil.

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The Bali visit was a short one, making a thorough exploration impossible. A beach holiday here undoubtedly offers many attractions, but getting out and seeing what else it has to offer is imperative if not to rather miss the point of the place. From my own perspective there was so much left unexplored that limited time left a sense of frustration and unfinished business. An occupational hazard maybe, but the point in the previous post about only scratching the surface proved to be only too true.