Garut: A Warm Welcome in A Cool City

Asia, Indonesia, Southeast

The view of Mount Guntur and the local paddy fields from our hotel room

Have you ever been in a situation where you have visited cities and towns far from home, but you’ve never set foot in the one just on the other side of the mountain or across the river?

In the late 1990s my parents moved to a small city in West Java province called Tasikmalaya. Prior to moving there, our neighbors in Pandeglang (an even smaller city where we lived which at that time was still part of the same province) warned us that the people in Tasik (how most people refer to the former) speak a much more refined and polite version of Sundanese. To give you a little background, in Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, there are two major languages: Javanese (mainly spoken in the provinces of Central Java, Yogyakarta, and East Java) and Sundanese (used in West Java and Banten). Although they belong to the same language family, the two are as different from each other as French and Spanish. And although I speak Javanese at home (since both my parents are Javanese), I grew up learning Sundanese at school in Pandeglang and Tasik.

West Java itself is currently Indonesia’s most populous province with almost 50 million inhabitants. However, what is culturally considered as the heartland of the Sundanese people is a mountainous southern upland called Parahyangan – which means the abode of gods – roughly two thirds of the size of the province. Also known as Priangan, it’s further divided into three regions: west, central, and east.

Now back to the warning we received from our neighbors. But why? you may ask.

Javanese and Sundanese are similar in a way that both languages have different levels of politeness used when conversing with others, depending on who you’re talking to. For instance, below are how the word ‘to eat’ varies in Sundanese. (The verb is the second word in each sample.)

Bapa tuang (father eats)

Abdi neda (I eat; used when talking to an older person or someone you don’t know)

Dede emam (younger brother/sister eats)

Urang dahar (I eat; used when talking to friends)

Aing ngalebok (the rudest way to say I eat)

This is why the people in Pandeglang had to warn us beforehand so that we wouldn’t make a faux pas when using Sundanese to talk to Tasikmalayans since the people in East Pringan (where Tasikmalaya is located) are known for their courteous way of speaking Sundanese. In addition to that, we were also told about the different intonation Tasikmalayans use where it sounds like every sentence is a question, and the manner in which they speak which is very soft. I still remember my score from the very first quiz I took in Sundanese class at secondary school in Tasik: zero. My father, who like most Asian parents usually demanded perfection from their kids, found the situation rather amusing.

Over time, I learned Sundanese in earnest and by the end of my father’s tenure in Tasik, I was pretty much able to speak Basa Sunda lemes (the most polite form of Sundanese). During those six years when we called Tasik home, we made the time to visit all nearby regencies (of which a province is made up) in East Priangan except for one: Garut. I’m not quite sure what the reason was, but I have this memory of my father telling me that the road to Garut from Tasik was difficult to navigate as it traversed the mountains and could be dangerous at times. Yet, the distance between the two cities are roughly the same as how far Washington, D.C. is from Baltimore, or Manchester is from Liverpool in England. (They’re very close!)

It was not until in recent years when my curiosity of Tasik’s neighbor to the west started building up. But only a few months ago, I finally said to James, let’s go to Garut!

Hills and mountains in the background

Watching those ducks reminded me of my time in Tasikmalaya

Probably a few more weeks before harvest time

Nasi timbel and some side dishes

Lotek, similar to gado-gado but tastier

James’s nasi tutug oncom

My dish came with this nice bowl of sayur asem

Sambal Cibiuk, a Garut specialty

On a fine Wednesday morning in October 2021, I drove my old trusty car to Garut. The journey from Jakarta took us through the southern outskirts of Bandung, which was a breeze since it was a workday, and as soon as we left Bandung the toll road abruptly ended. I used to drive my father’s almost-decrepit microvan from Tasik to Bandung and vice versa during my university years. Driving the same route again (the last time was more than ten years ago when I attended one of my best friends’ wedding in Tasik) certainly brought a sense of nostalgia. There were some apparent changes: like a new stack interchange replacing a simple U-turn at the very end of the toll road, and more buildings on the main Bandung-Tasik road. However, in general the atmosphere was surprisingly still the same.

Following the two-lane road that meanders through the hilly terrain of this part of West Java, I kept driving until we reached an intersection where going left would take us to Tasik and turning right meant going to Garut. In the past I always went left, but this time right was where we were heading. Then, about half an hour later I began to realize how different Garut was from how I imagined it to be. I thought it would look and feel very similar to Tasik, but I couldn’t be more wrong. When I was still living in the latter, I often told people how Tasik was surrounded by mountains because you wouldn’t find any straight routes going in and out of the city as you would along Java’s northern coastal plains. But now I know this description suits Garut better because from the city you actually can see the mountains. Also, there are quite a few sloping roads within town as opposed to Tasik’s mostly flat topography. As we reached our hotel, located in an area still dominated by rice fields just outside the city center, I noticed that Garut was also cooler than Tasik. Later I found out that the former is almost 300 meters higher in elevation than its larger neighbor.

Waking up to this refreshing view

Seeing it in a different light

A farmer tending to his field

Across this lake is a small island where Candi Cangkuang is located

Soto Garut, another delicious dish we had in the city

Burayot, a traditional snack made from rice flour and palm sugar

When I was planning this trip, I knew it would be at the beginning of rainy season, which means weather-wise it was probably not the best time to go since everything we wanted to see was outdoors. I also told James to keep his expectations low, not to mention that many places were still closed due to the ongoing pandemic and Garut’s Level 3 assessment (Level 1 has the least restrictions and Level 4 means almost everything must be shut). However, on the day of our arrival I was pleasantly surprised to see blue skies with only a few clouds.

It was lunchtime, and while waiting for our room to be ready, we decided to walk to a Sundanese restaurant not too far from the hotel. I must admit I was a bit concerned with our choice. Seven years ago when I took James to Bandung for the first time, we had lunch at a place specializing in Sundanese food, but he wasn’t impressed with the dishes we had. Because of this experience, for a long time he considered it among his least favorite regional cuisines he had tried in Indonesia.

This time in Garut I ordered nasi timbel (steamed rice wrapped in banana leaf) with grilled chicken, fried tofu and tempeh while James opted for nasi tutug oncom (a dish originating from Tasik which consists of rice mixed with oncom – made from the fermentation of the by-products of peanut oil extraction, cassava starch production, or tofu making) with Sundanese fried chicken and fried tempeh. Both came with lalapan – fresh vegetables as a side dish to be eaten with sambal and everything else that is so quintessentially Sundanese it’s hard to imagine a meal in this western part of Java without it. We also shared lotek (a salad dish similar with gado-gado but with different ingredients) and sambal Cibiuk, our choice of sambal that day which is named after a district in Garut where it originates. To my surprise, James actually liked everything. Whether he was really hungry, or his palate has adapted well to Indonesian flavors since moving to Jakarta in 2016, or the food really was that good, I couldn’t tell. I’m not a good food critic since I enjoy almost everything that goes into my mouth, so I concluded that it was a combination of all three.

During our four-night stay in Garut, fortunately most of the places we wanted to see were open, except for Candi Cangkuang, an eighth-century Hindu temple which was admittedly one of the main reasons for me to plan this trip. We were a short boat ride away from the small island where it is located. But on the day we went there, the gate was closed, and all the boats were moored and motionless.

However, we managed to do a really nice hike at Mount Papandayan to the southwest of the city, visited a traditional Sundanese village just across the border with Tasik, and enjoyed the magnificent landscape of the Ciwulan Valley where lush rice terraces cover the hills like a beautiful emerald carpet and along which its namesake river flows. Together, they all give visitors an idea of Parahyangan, a highland so fertile and majestic with air so pure and pleasant it’s reserved for the gods. Garut was significantly cooler than Jakarta, but the welcome was undeniably warmer.

Where rice terraces begin

Green and serene

A fertile landscape along the Ciwulan River

It looks beautiful even on a cloudy day

A luxury for someone who has been living too long amid the concrete jungle that is Jakarta

Mount Papandayan, a picturesque active volcano

Mount Cikuray which can be seen from almost anywhere in the city of Garut

Dusk colors

I will share the stories on the volcano and the village in the upcoming posts. But in the meantime, I’ll end this entry with a music video of a heavy metal band formed by three hijab-clad girls from the small village of Singajaya, 2.5 hours away from the city of Garut, who just graduated from an Islamic high school in their hometown last year. They now live in Jakarta and last month they completed their first ever international tour with stops in the Netherlands, Belgium, France and Switzerland. Talk about breaking stereotypes.

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Based in Jakarta, always curious about the world, always fascinated by ancient temples, easily pleased by food.

69 thoughts on “Garut: A Warm Welcome in A Cool City”

    • Despite its simplicity, burayot was actually quite good and addictive. I had it at room temperature, but I can imagine it must have been even better if it was still warm. I also wonder about the same thing whenever I see posts about interesting places and food abroad. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to travel far from home again, I.J.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a beautiful country you live in Bama. The Parahyangan landscape certainly looks heavenly. Garut must be even lovelier pre-harvest. Your food photos are as enticing as ever. Never considered it before but this makes me wonder why we – in South India – don’t have more banana leaf wrapped rice dishes. Even Sri Lanka has the Lumprais.

    I’m most fascinated by the brave girl band from Garut! Our regressing world needs more such role models.

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    • There’s another aspect of Parahyangan natural landscape I have yet to explore: its numerous waterfalls. West Java is so beautiful our first president wished to be buried in this part of the island. But his successor thought it was a better idea to have him entombed in East Java, further away from the center of power in Jakarta.

      It’s interesting that you brought up lumprais/lamprais. On my second trip to Sri Lanka I learned about this dish (if only I also sampled it!) and its Javanese origin. I grew up eating a snack called lemper here which is usually made from chicken or beef floss inside seasoned sticky rice which is then wrapped in banana leaf. In Indonesia we love using it to wrap anything from savory dishes to desserts because of the aroma it gives to whatever is inside.

      Speaking of the girl band, during their performance in Rennes, France the lead vocalist mentioned about how the French media seemed to be overly focused on what they wore. “It made me feel like (we’re) coming here for a fashion show,” she said to the audience followed shortly by each of them showing off their incredible skill in playing their musical instruments.


  2. “Have you ever been in a situation where you have visited cities and towns far from home, but you’ve never set foot in the one just on the other side of the mountain or across the river?”

    Oh, so many times, Bama! I mean, I went to Kyzyl-Orda before I got off my arse and went to Venice.

    I have to say, Garut looks lovely. Even better with the onset of the rainy season. It feels like the kind of place I’d like to go to when eventually I make it to Indonesia.

    Happy new year if you celebrate it


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    • I guess many of us are somewhat more drawn to places really far from home than those in our own backyards. You may find Garut really interesting as there are many things you can explore. I barely scratched its surface on this trip!

      I miss reading stories on your blog, Fabrizio. Just now I checked it and saw “Coming Soon” on it — seems like you’re working on something here. Can’t wait!

      Happy New Year to you too!

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  3. Possibly the only good thing about Covid is that it forced us to explore our own backyards. Your pictures really lovely, I can’t believe how green the rice fields are. And the food looks delicious. I may have to look up a recipe for Latek! Here’s to more travel in 2022! Maggie

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    • That is true. Without the pandemic, I wouldn’t have had explored this part of Java as I’m usually tempted to go to places further away from Jakarta. (A trip to Canada was supposed to happen in October 2020.) Those shades of green really are one of the main reasons why Jakartans like to flock to West Java’s mountainous regions. Wishing you good health in 2022 so you can travel more!


  4. Ahh, you’re making us want to visit Indonesia more and more!! I love the GREENS in this post – what a stunningly beautiful place. Isn’t it a treat to make amazing new discoveries right in your own backyard? And so glad James had a good experience with the food – it all looks delicious 🙂 Happiest of all New Years to you and James – we know you’re going to have a much better year!
    – John and Susan

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    • And thanks to your post now I want to visit Colombia even more! I often look up Google Maps now to learn about places closer to Jakarta (and ended up hiking to some of them). While I’m longing for international travel, I’m also happy that there are all these interesting sites not too far from where I live. Happy New Year to you too, John and Susan! I wish you luck with all your travel plans for 2022.

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  5. Wow, so impressed that you can speak in Basa Sunda lemes! Javanese and Sundanese are difficult to learn for the reasons you’ve mentioned above. I lived in Bandung for 8 years but could only manage to learn very basic Sundanese (the not-so-polite version). And wow, what lush and tranquil greenery in Garut! I can imagine it must have been a wonderful escape from Jakarta. As usual, your photos capture it well!

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    • Thanks Dixie. Well, I had a rough start with Sundanese. 🙂 The thing about learning this language in Bandung is that the people there (especially those of our generation) often mix Sundanese with the Jakartan lingo. While in places like Tasikmalaya one really has to make the effort to learn Basa Sunda lemes. I remember my Bahasa Indonesia teacher in secondary school even conducted the lessons mostly in Sundanese!


  6. The landscape looks so lush and green and the food delicious! The one benefit of this pandemic is that we’ve had more time to explore more of what’s in our own backyard. Looking forward to your upcoming post about the volcano and the village. Cheers. Linda

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    • The timing of this trip was just perfect. On the day we left, the air was a bit hazy and much of those rice fields had been harvested. You are right about how the pandemic has enabled many of us to see places closer from home, and we’re often delighted with what we found. Thanks Linda.

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  7. ” I’m not a good food critic since I enjoy almost everything that goes into my mouth” Bama, I relate to this entirely! I enjoy the way you write, “Garut was significantly cooler than Jakarta, but the welcome was undeniably warmer.” You have such an open, casual voice in your blog that is inviting and friendly. I had fun exploring Garut with you. SO BEAUTIFUL. I really wish I had you with me when I traveled, because you find the best food. And the VIDEO. Oh my gosh, they are so good! I’ve already shared the link with two other people. Wow! Not just yeah, they’re young, or yeah, they’re religious, but wow, they are just great musicians. Thank you for the link! ❤

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    • Some people in my old office even warned others not to trust my judgment when it comes to food because, according to them, I would say either it was good or very good. Lol. Having said that, actually I do know what a good food is. It’s just in general I’m not a picky eater and I usually find most dishes palatable, even those that are more of an acquired taste for most people. Speaking of those girls, they’re really good, aren’t they? Some people who understand this genre of music even said that they’re better than some more famous musicians these heavy metal fans know.

      Thanks for the really sweet comment, Crystal!

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  8. I love all the green in these photos, Bama. Those terraced rice paddies are a feast for the eyes. And your photos of food now has me hungry and craving some Indonesian flavours. I love that you included a video of the band. Not at all my kind of music, but I am definitely always cheering anyone who breaks the stereotype.

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    • I love rice terraces, especially when they’re green like this or just a few weeks away from harvest time where you can see ripening rice paddies as far as the eye can see. Have you had Indonesian food before? The ones I mention here are clearly not as popular as rendang, nasi goreng, sate/satay, or gado-gado. Speaking of the music, heavy metal is not something I usually listen to either. But those girls are so talented! The funny thing is when I watched some of their interviews, they just look like most teenagers. They didn’t try to appear fierce or anything like that, which is nice because they’re just being themselves.


      • I have, and absolutely love the flavours of Indonesian food. As a vegetarian, I found a lot of lovely food to eat, which is not always possible everywhere in the world. I stayed for two weeks in a small cottage on the edge of rice paddies in Kasihan, just south of Yogjakarta in November 2018. I had a couple of great meals at various warung in the area, but also at restaurants in Jogja. I cannot really remember the names of the dishes (apart from Gado-gado), but the flavour and texture that stayed with me the longest is perhaps the crispy fried tempeh the cookbook I bought calls Kering Tempe – crisp, sweet and spicy – that is used as a condiment.

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      • Oh yes, there’s a lot of vegetarian dishes in Indonesia. I’ve heard about Kasihan and before the pandemic it was already one of the more popular villages in Yogyakarta among tourists. During your stay, I wonder if at one point you also had gudeg (made from young jackfruit cooked with palm sugar, coconut milk, and spices) because when an Indonesian think of a dish from that part of Java, it’s usually this. Kering tempe is also very popular here, although I prefer the slightly more moist version.


      • Gudeg sounds familiar, Bama. Oh, and while there I also visited Monggo Chocolate’s factory which was about a 30 minute walk from my accommodation. I still dream about their chilli chocolate. I’m not a big chocolate fan, but I think it is hands down the best chocolate I’ve ever had.

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      • Monggo really paved the way for other local chocolatiers and that’s what I love the most about them. I remember that chili chocolate. I think it was the first time I had it and I must admit I wasn’t so sure about it until I took the first bite. Now I’m a convert — I shouldn’t be surprised that this combination worked though since the Mayans were the first to come up with the idea of mixing cocoa with chili thousands of years ago.


      • I think you are right. I’ve had other brands of chili chocolate, but always thought ‘where’s the bite’? I love chilies. I will travel to Indonesia just to buy a suitcase full of Monggo chocolate. 😆

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  9. What a treat to start off the new year by learning a little Sundanese from you! That gorgeous landscape and your food photography fills me with delight. I remain grateful for your presence in the blogging community and your kindness. Wishing you a very wonderful 2022.

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    • That is such a nice thing to say, Atreyee. I’m glad you find this post enjoyable. Hopefully this also gives the same feeling to others who read it. I wish you a great 2022 too!

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  10. Talk about breaking stereotypes indeed! Well not my kind of music but I love that these women are having such success. Brilliant.
    As to living close to something and not visiting I can definitely appreciate it Bama. Prior to the pandemic we meandered around the world at quite a pace. Yet the past two years we continue to discover so much close to home.
    The photos of the lush terraces had me gazing longingly at the screen when outside the window are snowbanks and a current temperature of -27C. I feel warmer for having visited your excellent blog. Happy new year Bama and to James as well.

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    • Fortunately their first international tour in Europe went relatively well, although some of their concerts had to be cancelled due to the recent Covid developments there. You’re lucky to live in such a beautiful country, Sue. I believe you can still retain your pre-pandemic fitness level by doing all those outdoor adventures right at your backyard. I don’t think I’ve traveled to a place where the temperature dropped below zero degree Celsius. I can’t imagine how cold Calgary must be right now! Happy New Year to you and Dave!

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  11. That’s a sneak peek into a very unique culture, your background story was informational. The food looks deliciously mouth watering. And, happy to know that you made it to Garut again. The gorgeous mountain views and lush green fields of Garut is soothing to the eyes. These are places perhaps I will never visit in this lifetime. So thankful to see through your eyes and in so much detail, which is an additional advantage. Will wait to read the upcoming stories on the volcano and the villages. And, those girls are amazingly inspirational!

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    • I feel like I had to include a little bit of background story because like you said Garut is not a kind of place people from abroad will visit when they go to Indonesia. Glad you enjoyed this, Neel. During my stay in Garut, I was actually wondering how long would that vista from the hotel room last. Will those rice fields still be there twenty years from now?

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      • That’s a very far-sighted and practical thought and saddens the heart too. We can only hope that they remain as they are now or maybe become better in another 20 years.

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  12. Hi Bama, I’m so glad you are exploring and writing posts about Indonesia, it’s definitely a place I would love to visit when this pandemic is over. I love all the green spaces in Garut and the food looks delicious, especially the Nasi timbel and the Soto Garu, I would love to know what’s in this last dish.

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    • Hi Liz. I’m glad this post helped whet your appetite for Indonesia! While Garut may not necessarily be one of the places you will visit when you do come here one day, I hope this post gave you an idea of what this part of Java looks like. I had to google the recipe for Soto Garut. From what I found, you will need beef (to make the stock), salam leaves (our version of bay leaves), ginger, lemongrass, coconut milk, garlic, shallots, candlenuts, turmeric, pepper, salt and sugar for the soup. To serve, you need to add chopped celery, fried shallots and fried soy beans.

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    • I think you and Pierre would enjoy exploring Indonesia. And when you do plan to visit, please drop me a message. I’d love to help with recommendations of places to see and things to do.


      • Thanks Bama for the offer. I will certainly think about it when we decide to visit Indonesia…don’t know when that will be though with all of the current restrictions…

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  13. Fabulous post Bama. I want to come to Indonesia and have you as my personal guide!
    Gorgeous photos. I’m not a fan of heavy metal but I absolutely love the girls!!! Stunning. And of course always glad to see the crushing down of old stereotypes.
    Happy New Year! May 2022 be all you could wish for.

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    • Thanks Alison. Please come again to Indonesia! I’d love to show you around Jakarta (it’s one of those places better explored with someone who lives there) and give you ideas of where to go elsewhere in the country. Those girls are incredibly good! They know what they’re doing and they seem to be very passionate about it. Happy New Year to you too! I hope you’ll be able to travel more this year.

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  14. Garut was hands down the best trip we did last year – I couldn’t get over the beauty of its emerald-green rice paddies and it was such a treat to wake up to that astonishing view every morning. The cooler temperatures were a bonus too. I loved being able to walk around without sweating from the heat and humidity! It’s funny that you mentioned my not-so-good experience with Sundanese food in Bandung back in 2014… in a way it’s sad that it colored my view of the cuisine up until a few months ago. I did not like oncom back then but I enjoy it now!

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    • I agree. When I had the thought of going to Garut, I honestly didn’t expect much. But then even Papandayan turned out to be a really nice hike! I loved how cool Garut was with that fresh air from the mountain, so different from the coastal heat and humidity of Jakarta and Semarang. The reason why I took you to that particular place in Bandung was because it was a famous Sundanese restaurant chain where a close friend’s parents took me in my college years. However, I don’t think they were doing that well in the years leading up to the pandemic. So maybe I did take you to the wrong place. I’m glad now you like this regional cuisine.

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  15. I loved this Bama! The food looks soooo delicious and the pictures of the rice fields makes my wanderlust grow again 🙂 But indeed, as one of your readers mentioned in an earlier comment: the only good thing about the pandemic is that we were kind of forced to explore our own backyard. And you know I also did that over here in the Netherlands; you don’t even need a very big country (or area) to find great places I guess 🙂 I love how you describe your trips, always combining travel experiences with either history or culture. That part on the language was nice to read. Happy New Year and keep up the great writing and photography.

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    • Thank you, Emiel. I hope you’ll visit Indonesia one day when this pandemic is over. While waiting for that day to come, I like what you did: exploring your country from east to west on foot. I wonder if there is a trail that goes from north to south that you can also take. It would be equally interesting to see how the landscape changes along this route. Happy New Year to you too! I hope 2022 will bring you more travel opportunities, in and out of the Netherlands.


  16. The lush green of those rice paddies is incredible, and the story of your experience with the different regions was as interesting as always, but the language stuff really fascinated me! The verb changes for different levels of politeness in the languages I know are almost all more visible; I can easily see the root and simply apply the appropriate ending or prefix. But this …? … the entire verb looks totally different! It looks really tough to learn!

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    • It’s exactly because of that reason why for centuries the lingua franca of the islands that are now Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei has been Malay even though Java always has the biggest population. Javanese and Sundanese are just too complicated to learn in comparison. When I talk to someone in either of those languages and I’m not sure what word I should use, I always switch to Indonesian to avoid being unintentionally impolite. This reminds me of my aunt’s experience in the Netherlands when she was taking her medical specialization. One day a person from Suriname (a tiny South American nation with a significant Javanese population) started talking to her in Javanese when he found out that she’s from Java. But since he didn’t use the proper words to talk to a stranger, she decided to reply to him in English.

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  17. Bama, seeing those gorgeous rice paddies is like a peaceful meditation that will always remind me of time spent in rural Indonesia. Although I’ve been to Bandung, Garut is new to me. I’m fascinated by the language variations you explained – that must have been a challenge to learn. And as always, the food looks fabulous. How I long for some good sambal – any sambal! I can’t wait until we can return to Indonesia. ~Terri

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    • Terri, I’m glad this post reminds you of your time in Indonesia. Which year were you in Bandung? The city has grown so fast — too fast — traffic jam has now become a constant problem. In my first year at university, Bandung was still that cool and somewhat laid back place which was nice to live in. As for Sundanese, it really is not an easy language to learn. One must know at least two versions of the same verb (the polite and casual forms) to be able to converse relatively smoothly. It’s great that you love sambal! There are so many varieties even I who was born and raised here haven’t tried all of them. Hope you’ll be back to Indonesia one day!

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      • Bama, we were last in Bandung 20 years ago! Yikes! But it was such a memorable place. It was definitely laid back and charming then – a place to really be enjoyed. I think so many towns and cities across the globe are laboring under increased traffic – and many just don’t have the infrastructure to support it. That was certainly the case when we lived in London, and now here in the States, where the “car is king,” cities struggle with the problem.
        James and I took a couple of cooking courses when we were in Indonesia and learned how to make a pretty decent sambal, but sometimes finding all the ingredients is a challenge in our town in the US. Sigh. I guess we’ll just have to come back to Indonesia. 🙂 ~Terri

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      • Terri, there are enough plans already proposed to build a decent public transport system in Bandung. But so far none of them has materialized yet. Taking cooking classes when traveling is always a nice thing to do. However, replicating the dishes we made is often challenging exactly because of the reason you mentioned. I guess you really have to visit Indonesia again! 🙂

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  18. It’s sad how in this modern world we always seek adventures far off when there is so much beauty to be discovered next door. Looks like Garut was a really fun time! And all those food photos are making me hungry!

    Voice of Baceprot have a really cool sound and YAASSSS to breaking stereotypes!

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    • While I understand why we’re often drawn to faraway places (especially when they are different from what we’re used to seeing), we shouldn’t overlook those closer from where we live. We might be surprised with what we find in our own backyards.


  19. hcyip says:

    What a scenic place with the lush, green fields and mountains in the background. I really liked the pictures as I particularly enjoy viewing mountains. Taitung County in southeast Taiwan also has similar combination of green fields and mountains, though the land is flatter. That’s interesting to learn about the different languages on Java and the variations, as well as how there are different forms of saying things to express seniority or respect. Indonesia definitely is a diverse place and the prevalence and continual usage of different languages alongside the national language (Bahasa or Indonesian?) is impressive.
    The food looks delicious, especially the nasi timbel.

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    • I’ve actually been to Taitung (where my friend and I stayed for a night before continuing to Lanyu), and I remember the train journey from Taipei took us through some really beautiful landscape with lush mountains on our right hand side. As for the language, did you know that Indonesia is the most trilingual country in the world? Most people here (except those living in Jakarta) use their own regional language and the national language (Bahasa Indonesia, also known as Indonesian or Bahasa for short — the latter actually just means “language”) in daily conversation. English is increasingly used especially among the well-educated portion of the populace and also in professional settings. When one has lived in different parts of the country, he/she will usually be able to converse in the regional languages of those places.

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      • hcyip says:

        That’s good you’ve been to Taitung, I haven’t been to Lanyu yet.
        I know there are a lot of languages in Indonesia so it’s not surprising a lot of people, such as yourself, are multilingual. I think the coexistence of different languages in a society, with a national one that everyone can use, is great.
        China, as well as Taiwan, both have different languages but there is the issue of Mandarin dominance and the steady erosion of regional languages as young people speak more Mandarin and less of their local language. I guess Indonesia has found a way to avoid this.

        That’s interesting that English is increasingly used in professional settings in Indonesia. I guess it’s in line with countries around you like Malaysia and Philippines.

        For travel purposes (in the distant future since Covid seems to be so stubborn and refuses to go away), would there be a lot of English signage in major cities such as Yogyakarta?

        Liked by 1 person

      • I fell in love with Lanyu, not just because of its natural beauty, but also because of the culture of its aboriginal people which in many ways feels Southeast Asian — not surprising since based on the Out-of-Taiwan Theory these people were among the progenitors of the Austronesians.

        I think the problem with the use of Mandarin in China is, like you said, in many ways it discourages people from speaking their regional languages. Meanwhile, in the case of Hindi in India or Tagalog in the Philippines, both are languages spoken by the dominant/largest ethnic group or a certain region in each country which are then imposed to the general population. As for Indonesian/Bahasa Indonesia, it’s not the language of the largest ethnic group (Javanese), nor is it the language of any ethnicity or a specific region. (Although based on Malay which is spoken in the province of Riau in Sumatra, Indonesian differs from the former in many ways.) Therefore its use as the national language feels more natural since people see it as a necessity.

        Although Yogyakarta is a popular destination among tourists, I think English signage is more common in Jakarta and Bali.

        Liked by 1 person

      • hcyip says:

        Lanyu sounds really fascinating to visit. I have heard of the people who live there, the Tao, whose distinctive fishing canoes are well-known (one is displayed at Taitung train station).
        In general, Taiwan’s aboriginal people, the original Taiwanese, have interesting cultures, though they are sadly marginalized and discriminated against. I don’t know too much about them and I haven’t been to their homelands, as you did when you visited Lanyu.

        I read that Indonesian was developed as the national language, and not Javanese, because the leaders did not want Javanese to be too dominant since they were already the largest ethnic group. I think that was a courageous decision and it seems to have worked for the reason you stated. And Javanese and other languages are still going strong, as your post attests.

        I’ll keep that in mind if I go to Yogyakarta. I have been to other SE Asian countries like Cambodia and Vietnam where I didn’t speak the local language and there wasn’t much English signs, but there were always a lot of English-speaking workers and drivers so I was able to get around ok.

        Liked by 1 person

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