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East Indies

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"With its incredible natural beauty and crushing social problems, Southern Asia offers a unique mix of paradise and hell."

Generally portrayed as that chain of islands, roughly a dozen large and a gazillion smaller ones, between the Far East and the Land Downunder, Indonesia is a country that works as a more exotic version of India because not too much is known about it in the English/US-centered part of the world; as it was a Dutch colony until 1945 it's way better known in the Netherlands. Want a story with modern day cannibals? Exotic rites with components of magic? Delicious, but mouth- and ass-burning cuisine? Set it in Indonesia. Sea monsters, modern day pirates, volcanoes, and more can all be found in this tropical island chain. One thing is for certain — the area is lousy with tigers and treasure. Oh, and Komodo dragons.


Expect half of the local wildlife to inexplicably be African or South American in origin, and to encounter cannibals and cargo cults.

Compare Holiday in Cambodia, which is a little further north and skipping Singapore, Brunei and Malaysia, and Tropical Island Adventure, for tropical islands in general.


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     Comic Books  

  • The Tintin story Flight 714 takes place in "Sondonesia". No cannibals or tigers, but there is a jungle island featuring an active volcano, mysterious ruins, and Komodo dragons.




  • The Swiss Family Robinson is the ur-example of this.
  • The original Dream Park book's role playing game subplot is set in this version of this setting.
  • Several of Willard Price's Adventure novels are set in this area.
  • The Year of Living Dangerously is about Western reporters covering the 1965 civil war in Indonesia (also: Film).
  • Max Havelaar by Multatuli (ps. of Eduard Douwes Dekker) and De Stille Kracht (The Silent Force) by Louis Couperus are two of the better-known Dutch literary works set in what was then called Dutch East India. Max Havelaar has been made into a film; De Stille Kracht into a TV-series.
  • The Laguna Copperplate Inscription, a nonfictional document detailing a royal debt-relief grant, was issued by the Kingdom of Tondo�a precolonial kingdom set in the would-be Philippines, but several centuries before Spanish colonisation. The gold-bejewelled, animist/Indianised cultures that existed at the time the document was issued bore a strong resemblance to their counterparts in the modern-day Indonesia.

     Live Action TV  

  • The Filipino series Amaya and Indio could count, as they largely focus on the precolonial kingdoms and societies that inhabited the Philippine archipelago prior to Spanish rule; in precolonial times the pre-Filipino cultures shared many traits with the larger kingdoms in the Indonesian islands.


  • The Sultan of Sulu is set in the southern Philippines at the turn of the 20th century, but Sulu partly counts, as it had largely escaped the 300+ years of Spanish rule that drastically changed culture in the rest of the country, and as a result had remained a Muslim kingdom up to that point, resembling its counterparts in modern-day Malaysia and Indonesia much more than it did the rest of the Catholic Philippines (which, in turn, is more a combination of this, Latin Land, and Holiday in Cambodia).

     Video Games  


     Western Animation  

  • A short arc at the beginning of S3 of Archer has Archer get kidnapped by Ruthless Modern Pirates speaking an Indonesian-sounding language (and their bearded, nerdy white interpreter), and taking him back to their fort, where he then becomes pirate king, while his coworkers try to extract him.
  • The third episode overall of Carmen Sandiego takes Carmen and her two thief friends to Java in Indonesia, where they foil a VILE plot to contaminate local rice supplies and corner local markets with their own rice exports. Naturally, being a franchise founded on geographical education, it's more accurate than other examples on this list, and features the local Balinese tradition of Wayang shadow puppetry.


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