Puncak: Jakarta’s Lush Backyard

As he carefully navigated the bends and twists of this mountain pass through thick fog that drastically reduced visibility, he kept murmuring wow and phew, being both perplexed and relieved every time he managed to conquer a sharp turn. My father was at the steering […]

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A Ride to the Past

I love trains. Take a metro system, and you’ll be whisked to other parts of a city much faster than if you drive a car. Hop aboard an intercity train. In many cases, you’ll get to your destination reasonably fast. Taking the train induces less […]

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No Peacock at Candi Merak

Merak. In your language this word may or may not mean something, but in Indonesian it refers to the peacock, one of the most extravagant-looking birds whose visually-arresting plumage varies from metallic blue to bright green. It also happens to be what a candi (ancient […]

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Candi Selogriyo: A Picturesque Detour

Candi (pronounced chaan-dee). It is a broad term Indonesians use to refer to ancient structures dating back to a period in history when the archipelago was predominantly Hindu/Buddhist. It can be a temple, a bathing compound, a gate, basically anything even if its original purpose […]

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15 Years On

Some people have known what they love doing since they were very young, but others find out about that one thing they’re most passionate about only when they’ve grown up, and I belong in the latter category. When I was little, I didn’t know that […]

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Tasting Jakarta

This coming June 22nd, Jakarta will be five years shy from turning half-a-millennium old. This megacity has come a long way from its humble beginnings when it was still called Sunda Kalapa, a port that was controlled by successive Hindu and Buddhist kingdoms in the […]

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Sarinah: A Compelling Restoration

Until three weeks ago, if you asked me if I would ever write a blog post about a mall, I would have certainly said no, or highly unlikely at best. That was also what I had in mind when I decided to revisit a decades-old […]

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Jakarta, Three Ways

Next month, the Indonesian capital will turn 495. Its position as the business and economic hub of the nation will likely stay for many years to come, although it will soon be stripped of its special status as the country’s seat of government. The administration, […]

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Why Tegal?

To my international readers the name Tegal might sound distantly foreign, but those from Indonesia would almost certainly have heard of it. It’s a city in the western part of Central Java whose residents speak a dialect of Javanese that is so distinct compared to […]

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Lessons from Kampung Naga

Modernity. This word has for long been associated with all things positive. It’s something communities aspire to, it implies progress, it’s the way to go. On a personal level, the word often goes hand in hand with the notion of freedom, of leaving old and […]

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Raw Beauty of Papandayan

Living in a place with the highest number of historically active volcanoes in the world (as per USGS), most Indonesians (except for those living in Borneo and a few other islands) have for generations been accustomed to living a life attuned to the deadly cycles […]

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