These are just more snapshots of what i saw and experienced in Indonesia–the art, culture, and some crazy moments:

Art, Koi, and Rain

…A country should take pride in its identity and culture. One way of doing this is to put up public statues, sculptures, and monuments that best speak of its history and heritage. And these should also be of fine quality and elegant taste, as well. Statues in Indonesia are everywhere from national symbolism to religious purposes. Left: An elegant neoclassical equestrian statue of their national hero, Javanese Prince Diponegoro at Monas Park.  Middle: a beautiful life-size statue of Hindu/Balinese Goddess Saraswati at the entrance of Rumah Mode.  Left: another life-size sculpture of a Hindu Goddess at the lobby of Hotel Panorama Lembang.

Artworks at the Art Market in Bay City. (Left) East meets West: a wooden statue of the Balinese mythological diety, Garuda, alongside Christianity’s Pieta; (Right) Indonesian artists depicting their way of life–from folk dances to everyday scenes of crowded trains.

(Left) I was thrilled to see lots of koi fishes in Bandung, in public parks and fountains.  Kung dito yan, ninakaw ko na sila! hehe.  (Right) Rain is also consistent, much to our chagrin.

….I like the details and elements that I see…even if they are just for decor, it speaks volumes about one’s culture and taste. (Left) Cute Keisja posing with a sign by the restroom at the hotel.  (Middle) Washing area at Rumah Mode. (Right)A ‘bilao’ slash light fixture.

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The Language

Bahasa sounds like Ilocano (that’s according to Ly who has been living there for two years and has acquired a fairly wide Bahasa vocabulary by now) because there are a lot of ‘J’ consonant sounds in the language.  She says it is easy to learn because we share the same Malay root words with them like: bunga means ‘flower;’ sakit means ‘sick’ and ‘timbangan’ (as the sign says on the left in a supermarket) means… ‘timbangan’ .

But of course, when out shopping in factory outlets (right), all you need to know is “Berapa harganya?” (Magkano?); “Mahal!” (Mahal!); “Mura!” (Mura!); “Boler tawar?” (puede tawad pa?) and my favorite: “Gratis!” (Free/Give-away!)

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Joblogs: Kalokohang Pinoy

Lighten up! Being too serious all the time can be bad for the health…So here comes the naughty part! Haha! I swear, all these things I found in Indonesia…this is only funny just for Pinoys…

(Left) Yummy “Pok__” Chicken Nuggets was our first meal.  Try it…you’ll like it!  (Middle) How about Pocky, you like?  It’s widely available in supermarkets….  (Right) What’s in a name? Find out this local celebrity’s name…just click on the pic and see.  😆

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Acknowledgments

Closing this series of posts on Indonesia (finally, tapos na po)…I can’t thank all my friends enough who were with me during this Indo vacay. Kung wala kayo naligaw siguro kami (jok!) …Kaya heto pa muli ang aking taus-pusong pasasalamat:

Ly and Ros: Thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to accommodate us.  You were all great and generous.  Your kindness and concern meant so much to us.  I hope you guys will live a full life and may God guide and bless the both of you where ever you guys go.

Den: Thanks for bearing with me during this trip.  I know that being with me 24/7 for one week requires patience and understanding.  You’re a great companion and friend.

Donna, Vince, Shem and Keisja: A wonderful family like yours deserve all the blessings in the world! Thank you for ‘adopting’ us for a short while…and for spoiling us rotten.  We don’t deserve it but we are forever indebted…

Terimah kasi…Godpeace…lovyaz!

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A good meal is not complete without desserts.  Actually, I am not much into desserts or sweets but it won’t hurt to sample some in Indonesia:

…They have cold Indonesian desserts much like our own halo-halo.  Which is better?  Well, they’re both good, but ours topped with leche flan, sweet mongo and rice krispies is still the tops.

Sweet and lovely: I am not sure what the first one was…cassava, I think but the right pic I’m pretty sure is Pisang Goreng (banana fried in batter) or something akin to our own maruya.  These are from Kampung Daun.

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Kung nasa Java ka na rin lang… lubus-lubusin mo na ang pagtikim ng kanilang Java coffee–whether it be from a three-in-one sachet or brewed to perfection…

We stopped at one cafe and it’s called Amanda in Bandung. They serve cakes  but the Browfee, combining ‘Brownie’ and ‘Coffee’ (below) is the one we came for.  Great combo…wala pa sa Pinas nito. Care to franchise, anyone?

Juicers and Shakers:  below right is guyabano juice (too sweet for my taste) from the resto in the hotel; (center) strawberry drink; while right photo is the dreaded ‘D’ word: DURIAN (!) shake.  It tasted… um, exactly like durian, I guess…wala nang ibang description, yun na yun.  But it doesn’t leave a bad smell though.  But I did brush my teeth twice afterwards just in case. 😀

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They sure like their tea…Hot, cold or lukewarm, in mugs, tetrapacks or in bottles (left)…

What else do they have that we don’t? They do have the Mcdos, KFCs and Burger Kings. Let’s see…

“Hurry! Mix right away!” : Pepper Lunch (below left) at Plaza Senayan is one of their fastfood restos, too.  It is like our own sizzling plate-themed eateries but you can get to mix it your own way or let the waiter do it for you because the hot oil tend to ‘splatter’ while you do it; at right is our last meal from their pseudo-Japanese fastfood type of resto, Haka Haka Bento (Tokyo Tokyo is way better), at the Jakarta airport:

…alright.  That’s it.  One more post to go, about miscellaneous stuff still worth mentioning.  Promise, last na ‘to.

Last Post: Indo-xicating Extra Stuff (Finale)

Donna said that her cooking skills and food preparation greatly improved when she moved to Indonesia three years ago.  It was the wide variety of ingredients and styles that inspired her to experiment and explore…

Donna’s memorable beef dish with bok choy (or Chinese cabbage), along with her awesome chicken barbeque at Pelabuhan Ratu…

“South Beach Diet? Ano yun?” : Grilled seafood for the next day…shrimps and fish, all freshly caught from Teluk Pelabuhan Ratu…served with steaming white rice.  And don’t forget the condiment: sambal oelek (crushed red chili sauce) combined with kecap manis (which I often mistook as ketchup mansi–ano ba yan?) which is a dark sweet soy sauce…dip anything in it and you won’t remember what a south beach diet is because definitely… mapaparami ang rice mo.

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Remember Anthony Bordain’s No Reservations episode on Indonesia?  Well, after watching that, you gotta try the Masakan Padang experience:

Going up to Bandung, we stopped by one of the many masakan padang eateries along the road: Sarigucci (Ha? biglang naging Italian?) Our waiter prepares the food for us.  He got all these dishes, balancing them in his hands and arms, and serving them almost immediately on our table– giving a new (or old?) meaning to the fast food concept sans the plastic utensils, wrappers and styropor–all warm and ready to be consumed (below).

…And no need to take our orders, too! Our waiter started counting and calcuting what we ate (above right).  We will only pay for what we touched.  “Even if we only got a tiny portion of it?” Yes, somehow he knows.  Oooh…we were impressed.

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Going around Java at that time (which was the height of the supposedly Asia-wide rice shortage issue), it was hard to believe that there was any shortage at all… nagpaloko na naman ba tayo?

Anyway, the Sundanese of West Java take pride in their food.  And it revolves around their main staple (and ours as well) which is rice.  As they say, “If you haven’t eaten rice, then you haven’t eaten at all.” Hear, hear! We sat on the floor, Sundanese style, and ate with our fingers (well, I did!).  At right is our Sundanese feast from Balibu, a resto just across from our hotel.

Here are the culinary delights (and adventures) we had in Bandung:

Nasi timbel is rice steamed in banana leaf.  These are from Kampung Daun, an alfresco-style garden restaurant.  These can be  accompanied with krupuk, tempeh (fried tofu) and vegetables.

Ikan Goreng or fried fish: the left version is from Balibu while right photo is from Kampung Daun.   The Sundanese may not live near the sea but when they do get to cook and present a fish dish, they still intend to impress.  I’m not sure what they are but I’m guessing that one of them is carp.  The condiment that goes well with ikan goreng is made of chili, garlic, soy sauce, tomatoes, shallots, etc.

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At Rumah Mode, a sort of like a small Greenbelt in Bandung…we ate in a restaurant called Bumbu Desa. Just point and they’ll heat them up for you:

We chose green terong (green salad), fried tempeh, more nasi timbel, and some really exotic stuff that I can’t remember…

…To be continued: desserts, beverages, and some more pahabol…

Next Post: Indo-xicating Eats (Part 3)

I haven’t started writing yet…but I’m already hungry just thinking about this post. But first, what did I learn during my eat-outs in Indonesia? I learned that it should be a requirement for any Filipino who wants to be a chef or venture into the restaurant business to really try and explore other foods from our Asian brothers.  It’s just a thought but we can really learn a lot from them.  OK.  Here they are:

Our first meal in Indonesia, prepared by Ly, one of our gracious hostesses.  Chicken nuggets (its brand name is so funny that it deserves another post) with colorless hotdogs.  Simple lang pero masarap kasi gawa mo, Ly! Naks.

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Bubur ayam: The only Indonesian streetfood that i dared to eat because Ly said i should.  And thank God I did… It is chicken porridge with lots of trimmings.  The pink stuff are krupuk (kropek for us).  They put krupuk in a lot of their dishes.

Bubur ayam 2: This is the sosyal (high-end) version.  I get to mix my own from the buffet restaurant at Hotel Panorama Lembang. I dunno. The streetfood version somehow tasted better. I guess it’s probably the street vendor’s touch, aka bare hands, that makes the difference.

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Lunch at Taman Safari. You gotta have rice and krupuk with your food. I forgot what was under the krupuk.  Probably chicken or something.

This is Nasi Goreng or fried rice meal which for us is suitable for breakfast only. For them, they eat this anytime. It is a complete meal with fried rice, egg, meat and vegetables. I asked if this was THE java rice (you know, the one we know as the yellow rice served in food courts). They looked at me in a puzzled way.  “Java rice is java rice.  This is it.” Ah, ok…I looked it up though…what i was referring to is “nasi kuning” which is like risotto pala.

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Indonesians eat a lot of chicken dishes since it is cheaper than beef and most of them are not allowed to eat pork.  So they know what they’re doing when it comes to chicken…

Grilled chicken or sate ayam (left): served with peanut sauce and calamansi…if you have kids and plan to travel here with your family, they’ll probably ask for this a lot.  Kids just like it.  But you will, too.

Their fried chicken (ayam goreng) was served complete with the head and all (below).  It’s all under those fried powdery batter, believe me. Can you locate the head? You’ll win a trip for two to Jakarta if you do. Joke lang!  It may taste dry to some finicky eaters but dipped in spicy sambal condiments… mmm…trust me, you’ll forget how to spell ‘dry’ …unless if you’re dyslexic, of course…

Sus…nagpapatawa na ako, ang corny naman. rolleyes sorry, baka gutom lang ako. Kasi naman… sino bang hindi gugutumin nito? I better go and grab something to eat… and that means…

To be continued na lang…

Next Post: Indo-xicating Eats (Part 2)

Day 6 and 7: April 10 & 11, 2008 (Thursday and Friday)

We headed next for Bandung.  Bandung is Indonesia’s fourth largest city which is situated around 2,500 feet above sea level, and it’s the capital of West Java.  Before going there, I did a little research on it.  I did expect Dutch-European influences and architecture in this area because Western settlers tend to seek and build settlements in cooler places with higher altitudes during their occupation of an Asian country with a tropical climate. So I imagined it to be their version of our own Baguio…and my mind was already anticipating pine trees, log cabins or mountain resort cottages, a roaring fireplace, strawberries, and misty mornings…

First Stop: Hotel Panorama Lembang

We arrived at night–and hungry, too.  We settled in Hotel Panorama Lembang, so-called because of its panoramic view from the cottage.  My expectations came to fruition as I took a look at the place–very much like Baguio.  But Baguio had a cooler climate, though.

Our cottage: We were given choices–whether to rent rooms or cottages. Of course we chose the latter so as to experience the mountain resort feel of the place.

Wish granted: a roaring fireplace (left).  We probably took a hundred souvenir pictures by the hearth.  Babaw ng kaligayahan pero talagang ganun kung galing ka sa bansang may mainit na klima!

Emo (?) at 5 in the morning on the back porch, with Java coffee…still in a dream-like state.

From my vantage point, this is what it looked like early in the morning…

Then, the mist started to clear up…

And voila! Nice…so this is why they named the hotel ‘Panorama’ Lembang…

Pine trees, cypresses…sangkatutak at iba’t iba!  Trees, plants, shrubs, vines, flowers…they’re everywhere in Indonesia and of different varieties and species. I just wanted to stop all the time and take a picture of everything in sight.

Diversity in culture and nature is what this country is proud of…and they have the right to be…They have so many to offer… so much to show!

Second Stop: Tangkuban Perahu Volcano

You can’t go up Bandung and not see the Tangkuban Perahu (means “over-turned boat”) or as they call it the Bandung volcano.  There is a parking lot and observation decks to view the crater down below.  I heard the last time this erupted was 1969.

The souvenir shops at the volcano site.  There were so many hawkers and peddlers selling their wares–it was a bit unbearable…they just hound you wherever you go or which ever direction you turn.

The woods leading to the volcano…magandang magpa- photo-op dito.  In fact, there was a bride wearing a wedding gown who was having her bridal pictorial (or maybe for a magazine spread) here when we drove by…good choice for a romantic, refreshing and inspiring backdrop, no?

Third Stop: Tea Plantation

Of course, a little educational tour won’t hurt a bit.  We visited the P.T. Perkebunan Nusantara tea company.  They let us in for a little tour inside their plant.  They showed us how they made tea and all.

“Please no pictures…” a man said to me in Bahasa. Oops…too late. I already did (above right).  Oh yeah…I’m so baaad. 8)

They gave us free samples of their tea.  I liked it so we bought several boxes of black and green tea.  Their green tea is superb–really perked me up, its caffeine kick is stronger then black coffee.

The tea farm (right) near the plant and the tea gatherers doing their duty of… um, tea-gathering…

Fourth Stop: Strawberry Garden

We were trying to reach the strawberry plantation but we got lost!  So we settled instead for a strawberry garden and restaurant along the road.  It’s ok…we still got to see (some) strawberries!

Den, passing through rows and rows of strawberry plants.

I guess we came at a wrong time for we saw a handful of small strawberries… Oh, well!

Last Stop: Saung Angklung Udjo

This is one of Bandung’s main attractions: Saung Angklung Udjo.  Bandung is the home of the Sundanese people, the ones who gave us the delightful bamboo instrument, angklung.  This place serves as a site that showcase Sundanese and other West Java cultures–its music, dances, art, etc.

The souvenir shop. When we got in, we were given tokens of necklaces with tiny angklung pendants which I proudly wore…The shop showed a variety of souvenir items–decorations and wooden crafts.

Traditional Indonesian puppets are also sold here…I wanted to buy but they’re beyond my price range.  It’s ok, I’ll just appreciate them in this photo.

The show was fantastic!  There were child performers…truly delightful.  They get to study Sundanese culture for free, and get to showcase what they learned through these shows.  They also gave us, the audience members a chance to perform the angklung, too!

The ceremonial parade and dance of the Circumcision Ritual (left)…The performers reenacted this dance ritual.  I learned that this was a huge event in a Sundanese boy’s life…and there were rituals and dances performed (and be given a royal treatment) to amuse the boy  and forget his impending appointment with the medicine man.

It was a great experience to see Bandung.  And as usual, we lacked the time to explore and see everything…like the hot springs, and the star-gazing experience (It rained again that night, that’s why!).  Everything here was made possible by Donna, the busy and dedicated mom!  Again, thanks, mare, from me and Den…we’re forever grateful!

And so ends my posts on Indo-xicating Places. But where’s the food? Well, that’s what’s up next!

Next (next) post: Indo-xicating Eats!

Day 3, 4, and 5: April 7-9, 2008 (Monday to Wednesday)

Donna was our next hostess in Indonesia.  We joined her, her three kiddos and a friend for a 2-3 hour ride to Pelabuhan Ratu, which is a fishing village in the south coast of West Java.  I was told that we will get to see the Indian Ocean from there.  Wow, this is the farthest I’ve ever been away from home…

The three hour ride (coming from Sentul City) was…well, long but I love long rides anyway. It gives me a chance to observe a place especially when it is my first time to visit it.  As I said, tea plantations were everywhere.  Not only that, there were oil palm and rubber tree plantations as well.  I guess that the Indonesian government doesn’t like leaving their lands idle–they will take advantage of their volcanic enriched soil and plant anything that can prove to be productive (I could insert here a sarcastic comment and comparative remark about our own idle lands here in the Philippines but I won’t, baka mawalan lang ako ng gana–just think happy thoughts, SL).

“Ay…ano yan?” we asked ourselves as we zoomed along the road…I just recently found out (in the internet of course) that these were oil palm plantations.  Indonesia produces 44% of the world palm oil production. (info source: pedca )

We arrived at Ocean Queen Adventure Resort at Pelabuhan Ratu.

We were thrilled with our cottage!  To me, it was more of a real house than a cottage –there was a sala, porch, kitchen, one bathroom, and three bedrooms. Pardon me for those towels hanging out there…that’s just how we do it, and that’s that. 8)

There is a pool and a restaurant.  You get to have your own personal attendant (to help you cook and prepare food and clean the cottage.

Indonesian-style cabanas dot the shore line along the bay.

The resort was named after the Queen of the South Sea-whom the folks call Nyai Loro Kidul. They believed that this goddess queen lives in a watery palace in the Indian Ocean and is responsible for the drownings of fishermen and swimmers in the area.  They even sent warnings to tourists not to wear green bathing suits or else–the queen will decide to invite you and pull you down to her home as well as to your watery grave…Did I think it was just a simple rural myth to entice tourists to the place? Of course…but still it wouldn’t hurt if I leave my green shirts and shorts behind in Sentul, just to be sure…ehe-he-he…

But real or not…I wouldn’t for the life of me, go and swim in the bay…The waves were just too strong (and real loud).  Even surfers avoid it and settle for the safe area near the resort. But notice how green the water was…If you were wearing green, you’ll disappear in the seascape the minute you dive into it…and the harder to locate you if you get carried away by the waves…so it IS better to wear something bright like orange or yellow, in case you may want to brave the waters.

Warning on the wall: “Take care at all times when swimming in the sea even when calm…An unexpected large wave can catch you unawares…LOOK BEHIND YOU.” No need to warn me…You got me at “take care.”

We enjoyed watching the surfers–local (they were great!) and foreign–riding the waves at Teluk Pelabuhan Bay. We also enjoyed seeing them fall, too (hehe)…and go back again…and again…

I’m not wearing green, see?” (left) Ha! Takot ko lang! Better to be superstitious than sorry…

Donna and her brood were real cool.  So is her Indonesian friend, Tet.  Donna was as usual in her generous and lively self, taking good care of all of us.

The Hostess with the Mostest: Donna with soon-to-be barbecued jumbo shrimps she bought from the local fisherfolk.  Nakakahiya sa yo, Mare. Salamat sa lahat-lahat!

We stayed in the resort for three days and two nights.  There were places to explore in south Java–caves and other beaches but we just stayed put and relaxed, for on Wednesday…we were headed for yet another exciting road trip…

To be continued: Indo-xicating Places (Finale)

Day 2: 6 April 2008 (Sunday)

We went around Jakarta in a hired van, courtesy of Ly and Ros.

Without it, we could have used a taxi or rode in an angkot (mini-bus) like the one in the right picture.

We wanted to try out the bajaj (left)–similar to our own tricycle–just for the heck of it (For a more detailed description on Indonesia’s unique transportation modes, click here).  But there was no time, we had to hurry…hurry…

First Stop: Pasar Seni (Art Market) at Ancol Jakarta BayCity

We toured around the the Art Market…admiring the works of the Indonesian artists on display.  Souvenirs can be bought here, too (more about the art found here in a future post).

There were little girls (left), in traditional costumes, preparing and practicing before their actual performance later in the day.

“Wounded Earth:” Trees wrapped in bandages, graveyard of dead trees and fallen logs, indigenous art works and sculptures were all around the park. Conceptual art on environmental awareness was the theme for that week.  We did not stay long to see the performances though, which was a shame…

Second stop: Monas (National Monument)

This is like our Rizal Park, although we lack the huge tower of course and then some.  In order to get to the main attraction of the site, we had to wait our turn to ride the passenger trolleys (left).  It took time but we got there anyway.

The Monas Tower.

Standing tall at 137 meters, this obelisk is topped off with a flame sculpture coated with 35 kg. of gold.  There is a museum inside, and an observation deck at the top but there were too many people on that Sunday so we decided to just take pictures from afar…and of course, the tower was not spared from those novelty shots…you know–pretending to be gripping the tower with your hand (which I did and it looked a bit risque 😉 so I hope that shot will never see the light of day) or touching the flame with your finger (which is what Ly was doing at the bottom of the shot).

As I said, we had to hurry up…there were so many things to do and places to see.  Plus, as shown in the Monas picture…sorry for the blurry bad pic– but that dark smudge in the sky were actual rain clouds heading towards us. Good thing we ended our photo session in time and headed back to our hired van before the heavy rain besieged upon us (again and again!).

Third Stop: Sea World at Ancol Bay City

We went and bought tickets to get inside Sea World, back at Ancol.  My apologies for this incoming bad pun…It was Angcool, alright! Hehe…

“Sea World Indonesia!  Sea World Indonesia!” The theme song kept playing over and over again though–it can make someone go nuts…Den and I (above right) in front of an aquarium full of…um…all kinds of fishes…basta! ang dami-dami!

I enjoyed the Aquarium Walk, and the petting pool…I got to touch a small shark, stingray and tortoises.  They didn’t seem to mind…

The souvenir shop at Sea World.  Take your pick!

Last Stop: Shopping!

We headed to low-end department stores (more like our Tutuban) where the factory and surplus outlets are.

O guys…Magkanya-kanya na muna tayo, ha?” : Self-confessed shopaholic Ly is in her element, making a beeline towards the discounted merchandise as the rest of us browse around…

The ukay-ukay concept is not popular here since products from China face tough competition with rejects and/or over-supply of clothes and shoes (also called sisa export or asli palsu) bearing Western brand names that they manufacture in factories here, making Jakarta an ultimate shopper’s mecca.  This is where we bought souvenirs (t-shirts, key chains, shawls) to appease the folks back home…

We headed next for the luxury shopping mall, Plaza Senayan, (alas, no pictures…we were too tired by this time so we forgot…) where we ate dinner and met up with our next host for this trip…

some photos courtesy of Den 🙂

To be continued: More Indo-xicating Places! (Part 3)