Friday, 12 September 2014

A fascinating insight into the religions of Indonesia on a Voyages to Antiquity cruise in south-east Asia

Toraja Land, Indonesia, where the local people worship animals and plants

  • The second in a series of guest blogs by Zoe Bromley-Fox, Land Programmes Manager of cruise line Voyages to Antiquity. The line’s one ship, Aegean Odyssey, returns to south-east Asia this winter for the first time since the winter of 2012-13. Zoe looks forward to the forthcoming visit by recalling highlights of the journey two years ago.

Indonesia is certainly a land full of mystery and intriguing ancient customs. One of the excursions that Voyages to Antiquity includes in the Southern Sulawesi area gives passengers a somewhat other-wordly experience. I will never forget one of the Indonesian bar waitresses staring at me fearfully wide-eyed as we headed off with the passengers to visit Toraja Land where the people practise a form of animism known as Aluk To Dolo.

The belief that animals, plants and inanimate objects possess a spiritual element is so fundamental to this region that many indigenous languages don’t even have a word for it. Operated from the slightly closer port of Palopo this season, but still with a scenic drive through the mountainous countryside, it also provides a fascinating insight into daily life as you pass through numerous rural villages.

From a more archaeological perspective, the UNESCO tongue-twister site of Borobudur on the island of Java is equally as captivating and compared in brilliance to the Parthenon by Arnold Toynbee. We visit the complex from the port of Semarang, and I also remember that the police escort service that cleared the Javanese roads to ensure the coaches arrived in good time was probably as impressive as the temple complex itself!

For details of Voyages to Antiquity’s cruises visiting Indonesia this winter, see here. Fares from £3,495 pp.

Click here to read Zoe's blog in full, with details of Aegean Odyssey's voyages and the excursions available.

The UNESCO-listed Borobodur on the Indonesian island of Java