Did you know that part of Indonesia was the fabled “Spice Islands” from the pages of history?
No? Well it’s a long and very interesting story of which I can only tell you a small part here. The rest you should find out for yourself. It’s fascinating.
Right in the middle of this vast archipelago of over 13,500 islands, is a group of islands called “Banda” and hundreds of years ago, they were the perfect place to grow spices, especially the much desired nutmeg which at that time was more valuable than gold. Inevitably these islands became the battleground for the lucrative spice trade with Europe between Holland, then the colonial power in Indonesia, and Britain who longed to dominate the maritime trade world.
In Europe a massive war between France and England was taking place, known in England as the Napoleonic Wars, which included Holland in its devastation, and when the war was over a treaty signed in Breda, Holland, swapped the Banda Islands, then the most valuable islands in the world, for a meaningless piece of rock in the Atlantic called Manahata in the Native American language, as part of the post-war settlement. Today Banda is a tiny, peaceful and impoverished island group and Manhattan is the most valuable island in the world! A great reversal, and one of many marvellous tales of this extraordinary country.
Perhaps Bali’s neighbouring islands of Lombok, the Gilis, Nusa Lembongan and Nusa Penida featured in this issue, don’t have such historical tales but they do have great dive spots, excellent hotels and restaurants, beautiful beaches, and in the middle of Lombok an amazing volcanic mountain to enjoy!
Have a look through our travel stories and see what you can discover – it may just inspire you to explore further afield. And, don’t forget to look up the ‘Spice Islands’ and see what history you can find.
Alistair G. Speirs, OBE