Secrets of the Spice Islands; A Journey through Indonesia03 - 20 September, 2019

Trip Dates:
03 - 20 September, 2019
Trip Price: £4260 Excluding International flights
Trip Length: 18 days

Indonesia is a land of astounding beauty and cultural diversity. Its many islands sprawl over one eighth of the globe and encompass mind-stupefying extremes from the highest peaks linked by chains of dramatic volcanoes to vast savannahs and tropical rain forests inhabited by over 300 ethnic groups. Indonesia is the most complex single nation on earth. Accompanied by Dr Peter Sharrock explore three of the major islands of Indonesia – Java, Sulawesi and Bali. 

The journey begins in Indonesia’s cultural capital, Yogyakarta, 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. Nearbv is  Borobudur, one of Asia’s greatest sites and the largest Mahayana Buddhist monument, a masterpiece of the melding of religion and art. The reliefs, many of which are stories from the Jataka tales (stories of the previous lives 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 Borobudur 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.

Continue on to the charming town of Solo, Indonesia’s royal capital and en route visit the magnificent 9th century Hindu temple complex at Prambanan. From Solo, drive to Candi Sukuh spectacularly situated on the slopes of the majestic Mt. Lawu and spend a night at the attractive hill station of Sarangan.  Visit one of Java’ most delightful towns, Malang, set in the mountainous region near  Java’s 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, visit Candi Belahan, a bathing place dating from 1049AD and still in use.  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, 0ffered 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. Dr Sharrock will show 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.


Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Dr Peter Sharrock

 Dr Sharrock made his first visit to Southeast Asia  in 1970 when he became Reuters’ correspondent in Cambodia and Vietnam. He reported the American war there and in Laos for four years and discovered how, as the French say, Indochina ‘attaches to the skin’. He obtained his doctorate on Buddhism and Imperial politics as discerned through the sacred art of the Khmer civilization from the London School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) where he now lectures and researches. Dr Sharrock is currently writing a book on Buddhist art in Southeast Asia and in particular the island of Java. He has accompanied several very successful visits to Indonesia for Distant Horizons.

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Secrets of the Spice Islands; A Journey through Indonesia Trip Comments:

‘This was a fantastic trip – extremely well organised with a first rate leader in Peter Sharrock.’
‘Overall it was a wonderful and exciting holiday. Thank you very much.’
‘The tour was a huge success. Dr Sharrock was a star and held the whole trip together at the intellectual level.’
‘It was a fascinating trip; Dr Sharrock and his contacts made it particularly so.’