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The floating emerald islands of the Indonesian archipelago have for centuries lured everyone from missionaries to pirates, mining companies and backpackers to their sandalwood and spice breezes, their Bali Hai lifestyle and their magnificent beaches, mountains and volcanoes.
However, the myth of paradise is often marred by deep racial divides, religious warring, high-handed autocracy, government corruption, economic mismanagement and natural disasters. The latest rounds of violence have made Indonesia a problematic destination for Western travellers.
INDONESIA TOURS & TRAVEL:
BALI Tours, Travel and Activities
Bali is so picturesque that you could be fooled into thinking it was a painted backdrop: rice paddies trip down hillsides like giant steps, volcanoes soar through the clouds, the forests are lush and tropical, and the beaches are lapped by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean.
Bali is famous for many forms of art, including painting, sculpture, woodcarving, and performing arts. Balinese gamelan music is highly developed and varied. The dances portray stories from Hindu epics such as the Ramayana. Famous Balinese dances include pendet, legong, baris, topeng, barong, and kecak (the monkey dance).
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LOMBOK Tours, Travel and Activities
Lombok is the most popular destination in Nusa Tenggara, with the fabled Gili Islands drawing visitors for action both in and out of the water, mighty Gunung Rinjani luring trekkers to conquer its peak, and the big breaks of the south a magnet for surfers.
Lombok has much in common with nearby Bali, but less well-known and less-visited by foreigners. It has been working to increase its visibility to tourists in recent years, promoting itself as an "unspoiled Bali". The most-developed center of tourism is Senggigi, spread in a 10-kilometer strip along the coastal road north of Mataram, while backpackers congregate in the Gili Islands off the west coast.
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YOGYAKARTA Tours, Travel and Activities
Of all the 17,000 islands that make up Indonesia, Java is king. It may not have the beaches of Bali, the jungles of Kalimantan, or the remoteness of Papua, but it's the heart of the country, a heart with more drive and energy than any other island in this vast archipelago.
In, Yogyakarta visit the Sultan's Palace, the seat of the Java's royal family, to see the Javanese court's architecture and customs. Then spend some time in the Sonobudoyo Museum with displays of traditional Javanese art collection and Taman Sari and the well known Javanese Water Castle.
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SUGGESTED ITINERARIES: INDONESIA
With such a multiplicity of ethnic groups, Indonesia has a surfeit of cultural events throughout the year. On Sumba, mock battles that hark back to the era of internecine warfare are held in February and March. The day before Balinese Caka New Year (March-April) temple icons are taken to the sea to be bathed and drummers drive evil spirits back to the spirit world.
There's a dramatic Easter Parade on the island of Larantuka, whip duels in Ruteng, Flores in August and Torajan funereal feasts in central Sulawesi, held mainly between August and October.
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