In 2013 RSAA members took a cultural tour through the islands of Indonesia with highlights including Bali, Jakarta, Malang and Yogyakarta.

10 - 28 September 2013


Indonesia is a land of extraordinary and diverse beauty. Its seventeen thousand islands stretch over one eighth of the globe and boast an astonishing array of distinct cultures and traditions. This tour, specially planned for the members of the Royal Society for Asian Affairs will take in three of the major islands of Indonesia – Java, Sulawesi and Bali. The journey will combine traditional historical, cultural and artistic themes as well as a focus on present-day Indonesia. Under the auspices of the RSAA offices, a number of special meetings and events are being planned for the party.

Indonesia 1

The tour begins with three nights in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta where the party will have a chance to explore the old Dutch quarter modelled on Amsterdam, and visit the National Museum with its outstanding collection of artefacts. A number of briefings and meetings are planned in Jakarta as well as visits to the State Islamic University and a major mosque in the city.

Fly to Yogyakarta and drive to Borobudur which is the world’s largest Mahayana Buddhist monument and a masterpiece of the melding of religion and art. The reliefs, many of which are stories from the Jotaka tales (stories of the life of the Buddha), are not only a superb achievement in Buddhist art, but also a set of teachings that have instructed millions of pilgrims over the last thousand years. The party will overnight at Borbudur which offers a wonderful opportunity to see this superb site at sunset and at dawn when it is at its most special and when there are far fewer people visiting.


The following day return to Yogyakarta often referred to as ‘Yogya’ considered by many to be Indonesia’s cultural and spiritual home. Visit the magnificent kraton – or palace – where the historic Sultanate and court is still intact. The kraton is open to the public, giving outsiders the opportunity to see for themselves, the daily life and culture of a classical Javanese court. Given Yogya’s importance to the arts, the party will also visit the Indonesian Institute of the Arts. Yogya is also the centre of tertiary education in Indonesia and a visit is planned to the Gadjah Madah University to discuss the views and aspirations of Indonesia’s younger generation with staff and students

Travelling by express train from Yogya to Surabaya the party will pass through some of Java’s most spectacular and beautiful scenery. Continue on to Malang, an attractive town in the centre of the island and beautifully situated near some of Java’ highest peaks. From here there will be numerous excursions and on one morning (at sunrise!) a walk is planned in the foothills of one the island’s largest volcanoes.

En route to the island of Sulawesi, the party will visit the Islamic secondary school at Pasuruuan to discuss the role of Islamic education in modern Indonesia and the evolution of traditional Islam in conservative East Java. Fly to Makassar the capital of the island of Sulawesi where, high in the mountains of south Sulawesi, the rooftops of Torajaland appear as boats floating on a sea. According to legend, Toraja ancestors crossed the ocean by canoe and erected their hulls as roofs. Toraja houses are arranged in a loop and are occupied by several extended families. Houses are exquisitely carved with geometric motifs and ceremonies remain an important part of life. The Toraja people are perhaps best known for their colourful feasts in honour of the dead; offered to ensure that the souls of the dead pass safely to the after world. Visit the Hanging Graves at Lemo where the burial chambers are carved out of sheer rock face.


The journey ends in the magical island of Bali where the party will learn that the heartland of Balinese culture has always been, and still is, in the hills. Experience one of the most complex social and religious structures in the world. Enjoy an excursion to Pura Besakih which is reached by driving through some of Bali’s spectacular rice terraces. Along the road, women will walk to the temple with offerings of fruit, rice and fish piled high in garish symmetry on their heads.

23 SEP


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