world map

Indonesia / Timor Leste

Reunion with an old friend

date of entry 29/09/2006
mileage 567,065

Timor Leste

capital Dili

area 14.954,44 km²

population 1.120.392

official language Portuguese / Tetum


capital Jakarta

area 1.904.569 km²

population 237.556.363

GDP 845,6 Bill. US-Dollar

official language Bahasa Indonesia

Gunther has a special relationship with Indonesia. He lived in Jakarta for seven years, and made his mark by drawing up the first official map of the city, now home to 30 million people, and updating it over several decades. Gunther came here with Christine and Otto for the first time in 2006. They started out from Australia, and stopped off in East Timor, a small country on the southeast tip of Indonesia
  • The fight for independence was violent, causing hundreds of thousands to flee to United Nations refugee camps.
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  • A ferry in the Indonesian archipelago. Most of these vessels operated off the Italian coast in the 1980s.
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  • The ferries are almost always overloaded, with every square inch of space being used.
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  • Thirty million people live in the area surrounding Jakarta. Since space is in short supply, they have to build upwards. Gunther has a special relationship with the Indonesian capital: He produced the first official map of the city, and updated it for several decades.
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  • Indonesia is home to two hundred million Muslims, giving it the biggest Islamic population of any country in the world.
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  • The Istiqlal mosque in the city centre is the largest in Asia.
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  • One more superlative: Sunda Kelapa, near Jakarta, is the world’s largest port for freight-carrying sailing ships.
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  • This factory in Java employed up to 2,000 women making handmade clove cigarettes known as kretek. "Indonesia is the world’s biggest producer, importer and consumer of cloves," says Gunther. "The whole country smells of clove cigarettes."
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  • In Bali, women make gifts for the Hindu spirits. These are wrapped in banana leaves and left in little shrines.
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  • This worker is using a metal bar rod to break open coconuts. Indonesia is also the world’s largest producer of coconuts, growing almost 20 million tonnes a year.
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  • Two women carrying produce on a homemade motorcycle
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  • Many people on this nation of islands earn their living from fishing. The catch is weighed in the port, sold immediately...
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  • and air-dried on mats
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  • Moving house in Sumatra: Some houses are so small and light that you can simply take them with you, with a little help from your friends
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  • As in China, many Indonesians use flimsy poles to carry heavy loads.
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  • Indonesia has around 17,000 islands. Not surprisingly, a great deal of freight is transported by water.
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  • Everything that can be sold or reused is collected at this city landfill.
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  • These boats are floating bathrooms. People go to the toilet on them, and wash themselves and their clothing in the river.
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  • In some Indonesian provinces, people live in African-style circular huts
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  • Gunther and Christine received a joyful welcome when they happened to pass by a school. "The kids were coming out of class, and they got really excited when they saw Otto," Gunther recalls.
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  • It wasn’t the first or last time this had happened: This exotic-looking vehicle was particularly popular with children
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  • The Prambanan temple compound at Yogyakarta in Java. Indonesia’s biggest Hindu temple complex was seriously damaged by an earthquake in 2006
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  • This outrigger serves both as a home and a workplace
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  • Otto outside a Minangkabau house in Sumatra…
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  • … and at the temple of Borobodur, in Yogyakarta on the island of Java. The largest Buddhist temple in southeast Asia…
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  • … is famous for its perforated stupas. These dome-shaped structures symbolise Buddha.
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  • The Toraja tribe, on the island of Celebes, digs graves into a cliff
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  • The sea temple of Pura Tanah Lot, on the south coast of Bali, can be reached on foot at low tide.
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  • This python slithering through a park was a memorable encounter for Gunther and Christine, but an everyday experience for the locals.
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  • Mount Bromo, 2,329 metres high, is one of the most active volcanoes on the island of Java.
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  • Crossing from Australia to East Timor. This small country on the eastern tip of the island of Timor declared independence from Portugal in 1975 and Indonesia in 2002. Since then, the island has been divided.
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  • Many of the buildings in East Timor, such as this Portuguese church, are reminders of its colonial past.
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  • Video: Indonesi - returning home