First Impressions of Indonesia

Under the Javanese Sun: Mount Bromo at Sunrise
October 22, 2012
Stained Glass of Notre Dame de Paris
October 27, 2012

First Impressions of Indonesia

As traveling two weeks in Indonesia, I got to see the major attractions around the country. While I was visiting nine different islands, these were the first impression I got. Have you been to Indonesia? What do you think?


There are many islands

Roughly, there are 17,000 islands Indonesia. 8,844 of them have been named by the government of Indonesia, including major islands: Kalimantan (Borneo), Sumatra, Java, and so on. 922 of them are permanently inhabited. It’s not hard to guess Indonesia is a big chunk of ocean, including a group of islands. Like some people say, you can spend the rest of your life in Indonesia and still can’t see everything.

“Belief in the one and only God.”

The Indonesian Constitution guarantees freedom of religion. However, the government only recognizes six official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism) and Indonesian law requires that every Indonesian citizen holds an identity card that identifies that person with one of these six religions.

The most obvious place was Bali, well known as ‘the land of the Gods’, the home of the Hindu minority in the country. 96% of the Balinese believe in Hinduism. They have Hindu temples as many as the houses around the island. Balinese are the most religious in the country; they basically work to maintain the religious ceremony and the offerings. In some places, they have a church, Hindu temple, and mosque in the same street. As the Indonesian constitution said, “belief in the one and only God”, believe what you believe.

The concept of transportation is different in Indonesia

Because of its geographic character, flying takes a big part of the transportation system. Of course, there’s a ferry for moving to one island to another, but it’s not an option for some people; either because of the motion sickness or the limited time. Because of that, the regional flight system is extremely well developed. It’s easy, simple, and ordinary. I confess; I got confused a few of regional airport with a coffee shop.

People speak different languages

As we were moving to Borneo, Java, and Bali, I needed to ask how to say ‘thank you’ each time. Sometimes it’s ‘Terima Kasih’, ‘Bartonuen ge’ or something else. Bahasa Indonesia (literally means the language of Indonesia) is the official language of the country, but the regional language is spoken more often depending on where you go, for example, Javanese in Java, and Balinese in Bali. Nowadays almost 100% of the population can fluently speak Bahasa Indonesia, but the regional language is often used at home. It was fun for me to catch up on the different languages on each island. Only ‘thank you’ of course.


It’s a multicultural country

Religion is one of the most major factors to decide the lifestyle. Because of its several strong religions, Indonesia is highly multicultural. Food, clothing, architecture, custom, and even the language; everything is rapidly changing as you move around the country. For a simple example, you’ll recognize that you are moving in Java Island from east to west or vise versa when you see the amount of sugar in the drink. Because at a certain part of Java sugar is a measure of politeness, they will serve any drinks with 1cm think sugar on the bottom. But it’s not common in the other part of the island. The kind of lifestyle is different based on their belief, and also the outfit differs a lot. It was interesting to observe the differences. It makes the country more interesting for travelers.

Juno Kim
Juno Kim
Juno Kim, Originally from Seoul, South Korea, Juno set off for the wider world to pursue her passion for travel and storytelling. She traveled the world as an award-winning travel blogger and photographer, witnessing the everyday life of different cultures. Currently based in Anchorage, Alaska and exploring this amazing Last Frontier. Follow my journey through @RunawayJuno and Instagram .


  1. What a blog…i love this so much..keep posting Juno

  2. Ayngelina says:

    Very interesting that you need to identify with one of the religions, what if you believe in none of them?

  3. Abby says:

    Indonesia was the first country that my little brother saw before me lol. Someday!

  4. Noel says:

    This is a very interesting post! I’ve never been to Indonesia and although it’s geographically close to Malaysia, it’s such a different country. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Erica says:

    I’m REALLY looking forward to seeing your indonesia posts!

  6. The religious law is crazy – it’s hard for me to understand a freedom of religion that requires you to be associated with one of only a few religions. Interesting stuff!

  7. Alex says:

    I’m really excited to go to Indonesia for the first time in the beginning of 2013. This post definitely helps me know what to expect, thanks!

  8. Caro says:

    Lovely! We’re planning on going to Indonesia, how were the costs there?

    • Juno says:

      Thanks Caro! What kind of costs do you want to know? Accommodation? Food? or Transportation? It was similar as Malaysia as I felt. But it’s very different depending on which island are you going to.

  9. lilian says:

    Interesting post! I have only visited Bali so far though.

  10. Kristia says:

    Interesting to see my country from a world traveler’s point of view… 🙂

    It’s really true to say ‘you can spend your whole life in Indonesia but still haven’t seen everything. There’s just a lot to see~ So up until now I still stick to my promise to look as much as Indonesia before ‘stepping out’. 🙂

  11. The Guy says:

    I’m always amazed by the number of island that make up Indonesia.

  12. Sumartok says:

    Nice post 🙂 I guess it takes around 43 years to see everything in Indonesia 🙂 Assuming that you’re moving to new island everyday.

  13. Very nice post. Welcome to Indonesia

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