All posts filed under: Indonesia

Architectural Gems of Old Cirebon

Six giant golden shrimps shine brightly under the sun, perched above the half-moon portico of the fine white building. The Indonesian flag flies proudly over a well-manicured garden filled with all sorts of tropical plants. On top of the structure, an emblem also depicting a […]

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Ngempon, Twelve Centuries Later

1,200 years ago in the heart of Java, Buddhism and Hinduism grew as the dominant religions of the people, signified by the construction of a multitude of temples in the island’s mountainous regions as well as the vast plains overlooked by mighty volcanoes. Around the […]

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Fragrant Water and Putrid Air

Any conversation about Indonesia’s natural landscape will almost certainly mention its plethora of volcanoes. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire – where some of the world’s strongest and deadliest earthquakes and volcanic eruptions occur – Indonesia is home to more than a hundred active […]

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Semarang: My Cherished Hometown

“Semarang is squeezed in the middle,” a pun my father once told me about the Central Javanese provincial capital which is also my hometown. We were discussing about how slowly Semarang developed compared to other major cities in Java – Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung and even Yogyakarta. […]

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Penataran: Appeasing the Mountain God

Swirling tongues of fire welcomed erstwhile royal families and priests who ascended the stairs of Palah, a late 12th-century Hindu temple located on the southwestern slopes of Mount Kelud. The volcano was so active and unpredictable that a temple was deemed necessary to appease Acalapati, […]

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A Tale of Three Cities: Jakarta

What is there to love about Jakarta? That was a question I asked myself when I first moved to the city back in 2008. The city’s traffic has been consistently ranked among the worst in the world for many years. In my first few years […]

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Baluran: Into the Wilderness

Our driver carefully navigates the gravel path, flanked by trees and shrubs, tall and low, that cuts through the dense forest. From the national park’s entrance off the main road that connects the East Javanese cities of Banyuwangi and Situbondo, it is a good 13 […]

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Food Nationalism

Chapter 5, Part 6 Several years ago, the headlines of Indonesian media suddenly flared up with nationalistic fervor against Malaysia following their claims (both official and not) over some cultural items that Indonesians are so dearly and emotionally attached to. Like sibling rivalry, netizens in […]

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Sweet Food from the Heart of Java

Chapter 5, Part 5 Indonesia, a vast country which looks rather small on Mercator maps, is a nation comprising somewhere between 13,000 to 17,000 islands, where hundreds of ethnic groups speak different languages and practice their own customs. When it comes to food, each region […]

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Here Come the Europeans

Chapter 5, Part 4 Long after being considered merely as medicine, in the 15th century the Europeans’ perception toward spices began to shift as they were used more in local cuisines. Spices added an exotic taste to the continent’s traditional dishes, and demand from royal […]

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Influences from Bharat

Chapter 5, Part 3 At a heritage house in Kumarakom on the bank of Vembanad Lake, a part of Kerala’s iconic backwaters, I discovered one of the biggest surprises during the Spice Odyssey. On the day James and I arrived, we were served several dishes […]

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