I recently was given a great gift through the opportunity to serve on a project in the country of Indonesia, specifically the Provence of Papua. The opportunity came up very fast and aside from a few minor logistical items, most of which were taken care of for me by the sponsoring organization, I was on my way in a matter of a few weeks.
I knew little or nothing about this island nation on the other side of the planet. I barely knew how to get there. (head to Australia and stop short….). As I made preparations to leave, there were many questions, but I knew from past travels there are just a few essentials one needs to have and know in order to go. The sponsoring organization has many years in this location, so I trusted they would take care of me.
- clothes to take (hot, humid, tropical)?
- laundry facilities would there be?
- medicines to carry with me (malaria and dengue fever – gulp)
- would access to connectivity be? Computer, iPhone needed?
as well as,
- Paying bills
- stocking the pantry ahead
- and scheduling BLOG and Facebook posts through the end of the year.
Useful Indonesia Information
- It is the largest island nation on earth with over 13,000 islands forming the archipelago. Most are uninhabited. By the way, most island nations are the tops of volcanoes, both dead and alive, and the remains of ocean floors pushed up from volcanic activity. Earthquakes and tremors were normal.
- It’s land mass is 1/5th of the United States, however, when overlay-ed the USA, it stretches on the diagonal from Oregon to Florida.
- The Republic of Indonesia is also the Spice Islands. Cloves, Nutmeg, Cinnamon, Star anise, turmeric to name a few, have been sought after and traded for since ships and caravans found their way from Europe. Remember the brand of spices your mother used to buy: Spice Islands!
- They drive on the left side of the road, right hand drive. This goes back to the Dutch Colonial days when they also drove on the “other” side of the road. The Dutch changed in the early 1900’s but Indonesia remained Right hand drive to conform with much of their region including Australia and Southeast Asia. I had to resurrect my London days of “Look right” before crossing roads to avoid angry beeps from the herds of scooters!
- The Sumatra and Java Coffee I drink at Starbucks come from Indonesia.
A Personal Connection
My father-in-law was stationed at Morotai on the Island of Maluku during WWII. He flew P-38 reconnaissance at the end of the war and was all over the Pacific Theater in his career. It was not until this trip that his time in Morotai came alive. I did not visit there – it would have been like visiting Idaho while in Kansas, but still I am the one family member to get this close.
A Small Part of Indonesia
- The Sentani Airport was built by the Japanese, then taken over by the US and allied forces.
- General MacArthur was headquartered there and today remains an Indonesian military compound that contain artifacts of his time there.
- There are virtually no roads to the interior of this island. Wamena, is the world’s largest city is supplied only by aviation.
- There are over 800 languages on the island of Papua alone. The national language, Bahasa Indonesian, was adopted in the 1930s. Its’ written form came into being over the previous 100 or so years during the Dutch colonial days. In 1945 it was adopted as the national language in the constitution. Most Indonesians are fluent in one or more of the other languages and speak a different language in the home.