This is Indonesia week
Over 500 images of Buddha gaze serenely over the stupas of Borobudur, the spellbinding 9th-century Mahayana Buddhist monument. (Mick Elmore/LPI)
In the last few weeks, as an Indonesian volcano and an earthquake-induced tsunami made for troubling headlines and death tolls, I considered postponing this theme week until it seemed more prudent to suggest travellers visit the Pacific island nation.
However, while Mount Merapi is still spewing fire and brimstone, and areas like Papua are under perpetual threat of terrorist violence, the situation on the ground has subsided to the point where flights into Jakarta have resumed and travel advisories are loosening. US president Barak Obama even visited there recently.
The fact is that no trip is disaster-proof. Even if you booked your flight in the coming days (and you may find fares cheaper than normal), the situation on the ground will not be the same when you arrive as it is now. Hurricanes, monsoons and even random acts of political violence could happen all over the planet, disrupting travellers perpetually. So go for it.
If you decide to visit, just be prepared and smart. That is the advice of former UN security advisor Craig Bidois, interviewed by Suemedha Dood in a Travelwise column Q&A titled Is Indonesia safe? which covers everything from the current advisories to travelling as a solo female visitor. Even if you have never bought travel insurance, this would be the trip to start. This week's Indonesia stories were written to inspire you to go, but once you are excited for the adventure, be sure to read and follow the advice in that column.
Bali is a one of those perpetually popular destinations that delivers on a promise of romantic tropical island idyll, and the story Bali's best spas and chill-out spots is your guide to the island's renowned spas. A more adventurous paradise can be found along a river in the Tanjung Puting National Park, home to an orangutan sanctuary, as reviewed by Kylie McLaughlin in Drifting down the Sekonyer. If you have a passion for the auburn-coloured primates, you will want to read Ms McLaughlin's Top five jungles to hang with orangutans as well.
Jakarta is not most people's idea of a holiday destination, but when you fly through the Indonesian capital do not pass up an opportunity for a unique urban adventure. Julia Simon, currently living in the city, gives a self-guided tour of fish markets and biking through a colonial neighbourhood. It is the kind of experience you will be bragging about as much as, say, hiking up one of the county's 100 volcanoes. We have that story too. Indonesia's mountains of fire is a review of nine black peaks worth bagging (as long as they are not spewing lava at the time). Finally, this week we are running another Travelwise explainer column on the Art of haggling. The step-by-step advice will serve you in most countries where friendly negotiation is part of the shopping experience, as it is in Indonesia.
Go to Indonesia, but do so responsibly and safely. Follow the advice and recommendations you read here and your trip promises to be quite epic.