An earthquake rampaged the planet again just 2 days ago. This time, it’s the Caribbean island of Haiti. Geographically, I’m far from it. However, psychologically, it reminded me of the last 2 big earthquakes which were a lot closer to where I am right now.
Major Earthquakes Timeline:
2008 (May 12)
Sichuan (China) Earthquake (or Wenchuan Earthquake): Epicenter 80km northwest of Chengdu – 11 million people affected, death toll - 69197.
2009 (Sep 30)
Sumatra (Indonesia) Earthquake: Epicenter 45km northwest of Padang – 1.25 million people affected, death toll - 1115 people.
2010 (Jan 12)
Port-au-Prince(Haiti) Earthquake: Epicenter – 3 million people affected, death toll - More than 110,000.
This is not a review about earthquake, nor is it a review about Haiti.
Earthquakes are what linked these countries together. My thoughts are with people whose families have been affected by them either directly or indirectly. Calamities of such extent and nature often leave people helpless and hopeless. I cannot even try to imagine what it is like to lose one’s home and family members as I have been very lucky in life. The only thing I can do is to try to empathize and to write some to remind those people who are not affected to open their hearts, if not to the victims, at least to people who are around them; to be more tolerant and forgiving to others whom they have discords with in life. May be you’ve an argument with your friend, loved ones or even your neighbor. May be you have been unforgiving to someone who has done you wrong. It is during such times that I think if one cannot do anything for victims of natural disasters, at least try to do something for yourself. Let it go, those insecurities, those unforgiving moments… whatever that held you back from being a peaceful person. Take the opportunity to let it go. That’s an appeal I’d like to make. Not for anyone but for ourselves.
Now, I have chosen to put these words into this review on Indonesia because this is a land whereby a lot of people need to forgive and to look forward. What had truly happened in this archipelago of 17508 islands?
Other than the 2009 Sumatra Earthquake, an even more deadly disaster struck Indonesia on Dec 26, 2004. The Boxing Day tsunami which destroyed Aceh, northern province of Sumatra & killed 230,000 people in 14 countries. It was also the result of an earthquake (undersea megathrust earthquake). I know nothing much about earthquakes other than its deadly prowess and its unpredictability. I do know a little about humans and I believe human beings are their best when they help one another to overcome natural disasters. We saw humanity (as a whole) at its best during these moments of helplessness & helping others less fortunate to cope and I applaud each & everyone of us out there doing our best to help the victims.
INDONESIA, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, fourth most populated countries in the world (after China, India & United States), is a country of colors and flavors. As with President Obama, I had spent a decade of my childhood here among the 230 million Indonesians. I was not in Indonesia while these 3 big events happened but I have had families and relatives there. So, I'm pretty close to the source and had personal stake.
3 Separate Events:
Sumatra Earthquake 2009
- I've a friend whose family lives in Padang. It was a difficult area to navigate and help as many roads were not accessible after the earthquake. As with China Earthquake in 2008 which caused major destruction in the county of Wenchuan, Padang is rebuilding.
Before the earthquake, all I knew about Padang is Sate Padang (a local dish like kebab with a distinctive sauce which I truly enjoyed; one of my most favorite dishes of Indonesia).
Indonesian Tsunami 2004
- Most people on this site would have heard about this. This is one big tsunami which affected 14 countries from Indonesia to Thailand, Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh & even the Maldives! Aceh was hardest hit and up to today, recovery & rebuilding is still a most difficult process.
1997 Asian Financial Crisis
- This is a manmade disaster. Many people were killed during the uprising and overthrowing of the Suharto government. Specifically, many Chinese homes were targeted and girls were victimized. It was grotesque! At the root of the problem was the economy and global market manipulation of Asian currencies but the resulting impact was that of death and destruction. It was the darkest period of Indonesia's history. The world should not be allowed to see such magnitude of 'genocide' but I know that's being over optimistic.
Having said that, Indonesia is a beautiful country with friendly people at most times. It was crazy times with drastic measures taken by some extremists back then.
"When a deep injury is done to us, we never recover until we forgive." ~ Alan Paton Let's now look at some of the greatness in Indonesia:
- Lady President - The country which has the largest Muslim population in the world had a lady president way before the most democratic country in the world has one. That speaks for something, as far as I'm concerned :-)
- Borobudur - The largest Buddhist monument in the world had been excavated some 35 years ago. This place is less well known than Angkor Wat in Cambodia but I think it is more amazing than Angkor Wat, esp. with regards to its 2672 relief panels. You must make a short visit to this marvelous monument before your trip to Bali. Highly recommended!
- Bali - The paradise of Indonesia until it had its first terrorist attack back then in 2002. The 2002 Bali bombings left 202 people dead, many of whom were tourists from Australia. Bali has since recovered and tourism remains its main source of income. Bali is a very interesting island to visit; very different from the other parts of Indonesia and its beaches are awesome as with the many 5* resorts that had been built there. The latest one being Bvlgari Resort in Jimbaran, Bali.
- Lake (Danau) Toba - The largest volcanic lake in the world. A lake within an island (Sumatra) with another island (Samosir) within the lake. Danau Toba is about 3.5 hours by car from the city of Medan in Sumatra. It is a volcano and a supervolcano! A supervolcanic eruption occurred here about 74000 years ago & is believed to be the largest eruption anywhere on Earth in the last 25 million years! This lake is larger than Singapore! Imagine that!
- KeliMutu - Another volcano with 3 separate crater lakes. 2 of them were side by side and shared a crater wall. The lakes are green & RED in colors! Kelimutu is in the Flores Island.
- Komodo National Park - This national park is where the endangered Komodo Dragons live. The Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site & other than the Komodo Dragons one can also scuba dive among whale sharks, Mola Mola (ocean sunfish) & Blue-ringed octopus.
- The People - Indonesia has a population of over 200 millions. Most of the majority are Muslims. I do not know what are your perception of Muslims but I do know the Muslims I had grown up with were mostly friendly and simple people. They may be ignorant and easily swayed but they are not evil people as the media may tried to portray at times.
There is a lot more to be said about Indonesia but as with all reviews, this is where I will stop and allow the readers to find out more for themselves should they wish to. I hope you do so as this is definitely a country where there are lots of diversity and adversity, but it is a country that aspires to unite its people and cope with whatever that it has been dealt with in life.