Sunday, February 01, 2009

Breaking up Indonesia

I remember when I first went to Bali.

I had been living with my ex girlfriend's family in Jakarta for a couple of weeks. They were great, in fact more than great, I think that family is directly responsible for my love of Indonesia.

Nevertheless Jakarta was a huge shock to the system : ) I do not mind eating rice for example, but having it e.v.e.r.y. day was tough going!!

Then we went to Jogja for a few days, and that was good. But we were staying at a friend's family's house, and being my first time in a Muslim country, the conservativeness was kind of getting to me (I had lived in Germany for years, the difference was huge!).

So when we reached Bali, we could be ourselves, eat Western food. I loved it.

Westerner's perceptions of Bali are weird.

I remember one of my friends complaining about a Westerner who thought Bali was an independent country.In Ireland, Bali is typically known as a honeymoon spot, which is kind of weird if you think about it.

For me Bali is just a wondiverous place and associating it specifically with honeymooning takes away from its depth and richness.

At least, Bali is known for *something* though, the point is its image is not subsumed in the Indonesian blamange.

Whenever Indonesia gets its tourist marketing strategy up to speed it will market each island individually. If Bali is known for honeymooning (yuck, really yuck!) Java will be known for the shopping malls of Jakarta and the Batika of Jogja and Solo; Sumatra for it's landscapes; Kalimantan for adventure and wildlife holidays; Manado for diving.

I am just pulling these ideas from thin air, but you get the idea. The marketing will be largely inaccurate (as with most marketing) but these ideas will stick in people's heads. You want to dive, head to Manado, you want to see wildlife head to Kalimantan, you want to shop head to Java.

The names Java or Sumatra or Manado can conjure up much more interesting visions than Indonesia. Indonesia has to drop it's unity in diversity if it wants to attract visitors.

14 comments:

spew-it-all said...

Indonesia has to drop it's unity in diversity if it wants to attract visitors.

I am afraid that would lead to existential crisis...(too bad, sartre had died).

It is perhaps not because people in Kalimantan, Sumatra, Menado, and others like to boost up their particular characteristics in the tourist industry. With country like Indonesia where tourist information is difficult to find in the government webstite, travellers story become sort of source.

Irene Yuan said...

Indonesia has to drop it's unity in diversity if it wants to attract visitors.

I concur. It's an empty slogan anyways.

Salam kenal!

m said...

you want to dive, head to Sabang in the western most or Papua in the eastern most.

check Raja ampat dive sites, it's been said by the the Nature Conservancy as the site with richest marine biodiversity in the world, complete virgin. and try what lonely planet said about Sabang, it says forget Thailand, Cambodia or Laos. also very virgin. in good days u can even swim with big fishes!

Manado used to have Bunaken National Park. But it's no longer relevant. The nature is damaged now. like in most places in Indo.

we are making strategy now how not to make Sabang like everywhere else in Indo.

btw John, about ur yuks to the honeymooning sites of the world, ..is it about breaking up Indonesia or breaking up an Indonesian? :p

ade said...

hey john...I found your blog address in my email long, long time ago...do you still remember me?...

johnorford said...

citu: word of mouth is good. but some marketign wouldn't hurt either...

irene: thx for concurring!

mulia: breaking up indonesia or an indonesian?? haha!! : ) [no comment :P]

ade: hey! of course I remember ou!! : ))

delvi said...

haiyoh john, u put yourselve in danger.
should the ultra-nationalists learn about this they will hunt u.
but i second irene that nowadays unity in diversity is just an empty slogan especially when chauvinist MPs in Senayan agreed to enact the porn bill.

ade said...

syukurlah...hanya nge-tes hehehe..don't understand,eh? Btw,...nice blog..:-)

johnorford said...

ade, unfortunately i don't understand... i am learning indonesian at the mo tho, so it's just a matter of time!!

johnorford said...

hey delvi, yeh i also agree with u about the porn bill... hopefully pdip will scrap it if mega gets into office...

Christopher Taylor said...

I think that's right, many Westerners are so clueless that they don't know there are multiple islands involved ... tempt tourists with an array of names like Java, Bali, Sulawesi and Papua, and something's bound to stick ... a veritable buffet of options. :)

johnorford said...

yup, totally agreed christopher!!

Amanda said...

Hi. Thanks for visiting my blog. You make a good point. And they definitely should work on that tourism strategy.

I always find it strange when I meet friends outside Indonesia and they find out I'm living here now. The first question is inevitably "Is it safe?" and you can see that they have the conservative (and perhaps fanatical) Indonesia in mind. Then in the second breath they start talking about Bali with a completely different take on the country.

johnorford said...

thx for visiting my blog too : )

yeh i think promoting each major island is a bit of a no brainer to be honest...

A Feminist Blog said...

Just a week ago I visited Losari coffee plantation located in Central Java, absolutely not far from Semarang. The view is really breathtaking John. I believe westerners will love to enjoy the scenery. You can go googling on LOSARI COFFEE PLANTATION.
Although this is not a new tourist resort, last week visit was my first time to go there. Shame on me? LOL. Well, I don't think so. It is located somewhat 'isolated' although not far from the main road from Semarang to Magelang. But an ordinary person like me to go to such an expensive place is out of question. Luckily, last week I accompanied my students (who all come from wealthy family) to do field trip there.
Nice. :)