I need to start off by saying Indonesia is GORGEOUS. Green foliage was growing from every nook and cranny. Especially in Bali. I took the trip to Bali and Jakarta with my new husband for our honeymoon.
It wasn't really hard to choose Indonesia as our destination, it was on my bucket list since I started designing (I mean, have you seen the modest fashion scene there?! Insanely cute and modest and innovative!) We went to Bali first, and it was on a level of its own, the tropical island had beautiful beaches, landmarks and green tropical forests, I almost didn't want to leave!
Bali is a majority Hindu island in Indonesia, while the rest of Indonesia is majority Muslim. It was nice to see how even in Bali, Muslims and Hindus coexisted and how, as a Muslim, I never felt like an other even though I was a minority. Our taxi driver told us stories of how the two groups would come together to help each other decorate or prepare for holidays. I was a little jealous, we can’t even get Eid off in America!
Don’t get me started on the food! Though I caught a stomach bug that did not stop me from eating to my heart's content (regretting it later but eating again anyway!) They eat a lot of rice and a lot of eggs, with different types of meat and seafood and wow was it filling! The prices were insanely cheap too. You can get a decent meal for under $3 and a 5 star dining experience for like $30. Its a big rice and noodle eating country as are most Asian countries, so it didn't disappoint, unfortunately i'm not a seafood eater but my husband said the seafood was pretty good stuff.
We spent most of our time in Bali, but I really wanted to see Jakarta so we decided to stay there for two days. My husband insisted it reminded him of Cairo; Busy streets bustling with people, insane traffic and drivers, building debris here and there, and the occasional stray cat eating from a pile of garbage. Being a privileged American I couldn't help but be mesmerized by it all. I've been to Jordan, Palestine, and a few other developing countries so it was something familiar. In fact, it was the comfort of it being a Muslim country that made me want to visit Indonesia in the first place. You see, I've never been to a Muslim majority country that was not Arab. There is nothing wrong with my beloved middle east but I wanted to see how the rest of the Muslim world does things. I love to hear about how the flavor of Islam mixes with different cultures and I couldn't help but tear up a few times while in Jakarta, seeing and hearing masajid and the athan play in the streets always touches me. Out of everywhere I've been in the Muslim world, Jakarta had the most masjids or prayer rooms that i've seen. It was so beautiful to see. The hijab fashion scene there was so unique, a mix of pastels and ruffle, with a little cutesy flair here and there. Even the niqabies were rocking pastel pink niqabs and knock-off Burberry Abayas. Oh--and I did not see one wrap hijab. they all rocked the slip-on or square, something I dismissed as a style for the khaltos/aunites and grannies was actually looking hella cute again. They were on a league all their own, unaffected by the latest styles in Dubai, the Arab Gulf, and Turkey. I couldn't help but reflect on how Indonesia is the largest Muslim population in the world, and how they had this beautiful Muslim-Indonesian identity that is so unique compared to the typical arab/desi Muslim identity that a lot of us are accustom to in the west. I teared up thinking about how Islam started in the middle of the desert as a small flickering candle and spread as a light all across the globe to every nation and people, not just the Arabs it started with. It was a reminder of the beauty of Islam, that Islam came as a guide that can be applied to every race, ethnicity, and human without erasing it’s culture. Islam is the base, and we add our own flavors, and its so refreshing to taste a different flavor every now and then.