The Magnificence of Indonesia

Written by a group of 18 Indonesians who love Indonesia, this blog aims to show “our land.. our people.. our country..”

The diverse interests of the writers are reflected in the posts: Batik as Indonesian cultural heritage, Gamelan and traditional Indonesian music, traditional medicine, Bakar Batu Party from Papua district.

Unfortunately it hasn’t been updated since July, but still a good way to start discovering The Magnificence of Indonesia.

Read more:
More Indonesian blogs from Blogs of the World
Galungan celebrations with a Balinese family
Photo tour of West Sumatra

December 28, 2010 Comments disabled

Galungan celebrations with a Balinese family

“Three more day until biggest Balinese holiday” he says, mouth wide, grinning ear to ear. Scooters buzz by us in the dozens, each laden with food, flowers, forty foot long bamboo rods, or sometimes, entire families of five. As I glance to my left I see a man in his teens driving a scooter, precariously balancing a long perfectly formed bamboo rod on his shoulder, which has been cut and curved “just so” for the traditional penjor that the family compound will proudly display.

“Two more days!” she remarks, giddily. “Today, I wake up at 4:30 to begin the lawar. This morning…” she says, then pauses, raises her right hand to her neck and slides her finger across it “This morning, we cut pig”.



December 24, 2010 Comments disabled

A slower pace of life

Sash Milne has achieved something which remains a dream for many – her job as a screenwriter allows her to work from anywhere in the world. She currently lives in Batu Karas, a remote village in Indonesia, and her blog Barefoot Ink is all about slowing down to the pace of life over there, with some travel stories as well.

We asked Sash some questions about life in Indonesia.

How did you end up in Indonesia? And why Batu Karas?

I ended up in Indonesia because I was feeling trapped and a bit uninspired living in a big city in Australia. A friend of mine got a job in Batu Karas and asked me if I’d be interested in moving there with her.

Batu Karas is a tiny village on the south coast of Java – it’s extremely remote; no supermarkets, no shopping, no movie theatres within 8 hours of the village – it sounded perfect. I made my decision quickly and within a few weeks I had packed up my life and boarded a plane to the island. I’d never been to Indonesia before in my life, and it is the best decision I have EVER made!

What’s the biggest difference compared to life in Australia?

The biggest difference in terms of my lifestyle is the speed at which life travels. Life is slow and relaxed in the village whereas in Melbourne life was fast paced and I was forever rushing to get from one event/job/meeting to another. Now, there is nothing to rush for, life goes at a relaxed pace and every day achieving one thing is a massive event – there is little to do so it took a few months to really slow my brain down, but now, I wouldn’t have it any other day. It’s exhausting doing nothing!

Could you describe a typical day?

My typical day starts with a hot cup of tea on the beach around 6.45am accompanied by good conversation and a cigarette with some local friends. Then, depending on the surf we go in the water or I go home to do some work. Around 10 I meet friends for breakfast of eggs or noodles and then it’s time for the beach. In the heat of the afternoon I work (write) under the fan in my bedroom until low tide, which is when I get my longboard and head out into the surf to cap of the end of the day. The evening involves chess, delicious food and bonfires with good friends.

What language do you use to communicate?

We use a combination of Indonesian and English every day. Some of the locals speak very good English (the younger generation) but are very encouraging when you try to speak their language. The villagers communicate with their local language (Sundanese) on a day to day basis – but it is an extremely complicated language and I just can’t seem to get a grasp on it!

Is it difficult to blog from there? Do you have any problems with internet access, electricity…?

It’s not too hard to blog from Batu Karas, I have an internet connection at my home which is very slow, so uploading photos takes some time. It’s all about patience, the electricity goes off often and the internet often struggles – but when you’ve slowed down to a snails pace that’s never much of a worry!

What about the culture and religion?

I love that the village where I live has such a different culture and religion to where I come from. It is something to be celebrated and I feel extremely lucky to have been welcomed so whole heartedly by friends who are very willing to answer any of my questions about their religion, culture and customs so that I can grow to understand what they believe and what it is that is the foundation for their lives.

Intrigued about life in Batu Karas? Check out Sash’s day in pictures, explorations of the surrounding villages or this post on a rare newspaper and a Javanese theatre artist.

All photos in this post courtesy of Sash Milne.

Read more:
Photo tour of West Sumatra, Indonesia
More blogs from Indonesia on Blogs of the World
An Indonesian wedding with a difference

May 27, 2010 2 comments

Photo tour of West Sumatra

This is a guest post by Kaja Dutka. All photos are also by Kaja.

Two years ago I got an opportunity to study in Indonesia, on the island of Sumatra. Many people associate Indonesia with Bali and Java islands – the most touristic places in Indonesia.

In fact Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands in total. Fewer people get the opportunity to discover the beauty and cultural diversity of Sumatra.

Indonesia’s population is very diverse. One of the main ethnic groups in Sumatra is Minangkabau – the largest matrilineal society in the world, and probably the only one with patriarchal Islam as the central religion.

Khatam Al Qur’an: Koran reading ceremony in West Sumatra

However, in Minangkabau we can still find many traces from local beliefs, and the Baralek Kawin (Wedding Ceremony) is an example of collaboration between Islam and local beliefs. The wedding party is held according to the adat (local tradition), but includes some Islamic rituals.

The party takes place after coming back from the Mosque, where the agreement concerning marriage is concluded between the groom and the father of the bride. However during the wedding party it is the bride and her matrilineal uncle, who are in the centre of the whole ceremony.

Minangkabau wedding

The remains of animism can be found almost in every area of life. It is common for Minangkabau to regularly visit a dukun (shaman). It’s common to see shamans on the streets selling some supernatural medicines or other items.

Roadside shaman

Many cultural and religious ceremonies and events are celebrated here. The most interesting in the Minangkabau calendar are Tabuik – local celebration of the Mourning of Muhharam; Makan Bajamba (Eating Together) – the anniversary of Sawahlunto Town; Khatam Al Qur’an – the ceremony of finishing reading Al Qur’an by teenagers, and already mentioned Baralek Kawin – wedding ceremony.

Celebrating Tabuik

If you visit West Sumatra you will find not only an unusual culture but also spectacular landscapes. The most interesting sites are Singakarak and Maninjau Lakes, the town of Batusangkar and Payakumbuh.

Read more:
Indonesian blogs on Blogs of the World
An Indonesian wedding with a difference
The best of Thailand at Pattaya floating market

February 3, 2010 3 comments

Organic recycling in Indonesia

Danamon Peduli’s Danamon Go Green project turns organic waste from Indonesia’s produce markets into fertiliser.

This approach has two benefits: it improves hygiene around marketplaces by getting rid of waste before it starts to rot; and it helps the local farming industry improve yields by up to 30% by providing chemical free fertiliser.

The project is a finalist on the BBC’s World Challenge competition, and you can watch the BBC programme about Danamon Peduli’s work in Indonesia on this site.

Looks like technology the rest of the world could use too.

Read more:
Food of the World: Indonesian breakfast
Space-age vegetables of the future? Japan and the USA plan to grow vegetables in factories
Could flood resistant rice help farmers in Bangladesh?

October 26, 2009 1 comment

Nasi Goreng: Indonesian breakfast

Nasi Goreng

Today’s food of the world photo was posted by sambayogi, who said this was her favourite breakfast ever.

Check out our Food of the World photo group on Flickr to see loads more photos posted by PocketCultures readers around the world. We’d love to see yours too! Just join the group and add your photos.

Would you like to eat this for breakfast? If you are Indonesian, do you eat this often or just on special occasions?

Read more:
Japanese breakfast
Satay in Singapore
Cheese scones and mate tea from Argentina

July 10, 2009 Comments disabled