Conde Nast Traveler

« Harry Potter and the Traveling Muggles | Main | No More Cargo Seats: Pet Airways Launches »

July 17, 2009

The Hotel Bombings in Indonesia

Deputy Editor Dinda Elliott on assignment in Indonesia for Newsweek, 1998.

by Dinda Elliott

The bombings at the Jakarta JW Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels are a heartbreaking reminder of the damage terrorists can do. Eight innocent people were killed, and at least 50 more were wounded. My heart breaks for the victims and their families--but also more broadly for Indonesia. The consequences of these suicide bomber attacks come just as the country was finally getting its props.

In recent months, Western leaders have praised Indonesia as one of Asia's brightest success stories. The economy is one of the fastest growing in the region, and the country just held a fair democratic election in which the incumbent, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and his running mate, the pro-Western former central bank governor, won in a landslide--underscoring the country's successful transition to democracy after decades of authoritarian rule. Jakarta had successfully cracked down on Jemayah Islamiyah, the Muslim terrorist group that carried out a nightclub bombing in Bali in 2002, killing 202 people, and bombed the Marriott and the Australian embassy in Jakarta in 2004. Prospects for tourism were looking up again.

It's important to remember that Islamic extremists are in the extreme minority in Indonesia, where a syncretic form of Islam--combining aspects of Hinduism, Buddhism, and mysticism--has seemingly modern politicians going to mountaintops to meditate and villagers worshiping volcano spirits even as they pray at the mosque.

It's also worth remembering that Indonesia is a beautiful, exotic, and peaceful country with fabulous beaches, romantic Dutch colonial hotels, great food, rain forests and orangutans, luxurious spas, and a fascinating mix of modernity and tradition. (I'll never forget the young hipster at a club in Jakarta who, a few years back, told me that she has to approach her grandmother in Yokjakarta as a supplicant, walking in a traditional squat like a duck.) This is a fascinating, vibrant country that is fighting off the vicious extremist forces as hard as it can.


I, too, love Inonesia and hope one day that most westerners will appreciate all it has to offer. Terrorists can strike anywhere - it's a crapshoot.

click to post a comment >

About this blog
The editors at Conde Nast Traveler answer questions and share travel secrets, tips, and dispatches

Twitter: CNTraveler
Email: Daily updates



Featured in Alltop

Prices and other information were accurate at press time, but are subject to change. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

EXPRESS SIGN-UP Sign up for one of our exciting panels and receive the latest news, travel offers, and event invitations from Condé Nast Traveler and our valued advertising partners.
Traveler Magazine




I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its User Agreement, Privacy Policy, and Mobile Terms and Conditions.

iPhone App:

Create personalized postcards out of your favorite travel photos!

Learn More ›
Subscribe to our free RSS feeds:

Get the latest destinations picks, hot hotel lists, travel deals and blog posts automatically added to your newsreader or your personalized homepage.

Learn More ›

Special Advertisement

Contests, Sweepstakes & Promotions