Intriguing Indonesia

Weasel Coffee

Would you pay fifty pounds for a cup of coffee?

One of the strangest products of thee Indonesian culture involves the farming of the Asian palm civet which is a small, cat-sized mammal

They are fed coffee berries and after they defecate, the berries are collected and washed before grounding them to make kopi luwak or civet coffee which is rich, robust and flavorful

But because of its rarity and unusual process, the kopi luwak is easily one of the world’s most expensive coffee that could sometimes cost up to five hundred pounds, per pound!

In 2008, an espresso made from kopi luwak went on sale at Peter Jones department store in Sloane Square, London, for £50 per cup

I wonder if it’s cheaper if we went straight to the source to purchase authentic kopi luwak on the islands of Sumatra, Java, Bali, Sulawesi in the Indonesian Archipelago

Borobudur Temple

The Borobudur Temple, located 40km Northwest of Yogyakarta on Java Island, sits majestically on a hilltop overlooking lush green fields and distant hills

The world’s largest ancient Buddhist temple is widely considered one of the world’s seven wonders

Dating as far back to the 8th and 9th Century the Borobudur Temple is decorated with stone carvings in bas-relief representing images from the life of Buddha

The ancient temple’s antic design in Gupta architecture reflects India’s influence on the region, yet there are enough indigenous elements incorporated to make Borobudur uniquely Indonesian

The temple was mysteriously abandoned in the 14th century, only to be rediscovered in 1815 under a layer of volcanic ash

Today, the Borobudur Temple is one of Indonesia’s and the world’s most valuable treasures


Did you know that Indonesia is home to more than 12 per cent of the world’s Muslim population?

Now that makes Indonesia the world’s largest Muslim country, with close to 90 per cent of the country’s population identifying themselves as Muslim.

And talking about religion… Indonesia is very strict about it.

The government only recognises six religions namely Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Catholicism, and Confucianism – and every citizen must officially subscribe to one of those religions, regardless of what he or she may actually believe.

And two individuals with different religions are not allowed to marry, unless one of them converts.


Next to Brazil, Indonesia is home to thousands of different flora and fauna, making it the country with the second highest level of biodiversity in the world!

Some of the flora and fauna are truly rare, like the Sumatran tiger, the Javan rhinoceros, and the Rafflesia – the world’s largest flower.

Some animals – like the Komodo dragon – are unique only to Indonesia.

In fact, Indonesia is the only place in the world where you can see a Komodo dragon roaming free.

And Sumatra is the only place outside of Borneo to see orangutans in the wild.


Indonesia is one of the most geographically and geologically interesting countries in the world.

The islands of Indonesia are stretched out between the Australian and Pacific tectonic plates, making Indonesia one of the most seismically active areas on the planet with a long history of powerful eruptions and earthquakes

Every day, the country experiences three vibrations and at least one earthquake.
Indonesia has a fiery side, too.

The country’s sitting on the Pacific Ring of Fire and is home to around 150 volcanoes.

They make great tourist attractions btw and you don’t really have to worry about them but on average the country does experience around one volcanic eruption per year

More Earthquakes

Indonesia is home to around 150 volcanoes and on average, Indonesia experiences around one volcanic eruption per year.

The eruptions are usually no big deal save for the one that took place in 1815 – Mount Tambora on the island of Sumbawa was and still is… the largest observed volcanic eruption in recorded history.

Still on the subject of volcanoes, Indonesia is also home to the world’s largest volcanic lake.

Lake Toba in Sumatra is what remains after a massive super-volcanic eruption more than seventy thousand years ago.

It marks the largest known explosive eruption on Earth in the last 25 million years.

To make things even more interesting, a new island has formed in the center of Lake Toba, called Pulau Samosir.

It now serves as the cultural center of the Batak tribe – former headhunters who are now mostly Christians.

Bali Superstitions

While the majority of Indonesia’s population is Muslim, there’s a small Indonesian Hindu population that lives in beautiful Bali.

And on that beautiful island, you’ll be able to catch the ancient Indonesian art of shadow puppet play or Wayang Kulit, as well as beautiful dance performances and Hindu-influenced sculpture.

And speaking of Bali, Balinese Hinduism is rich with ancient superstitions.
One that’s still practiced today, is not letting a baby’s feet touch the ground for the first six months of the infant’s life.

The whole point is to prevent evil from entering the child and because of that, babies are continuously passed from one relative to another.

More Bali Superstitions

The next time you’re in Bali, make it a point to notice if the top six teeth of the Balinese people there are as straight as an arrow and here’s why.

Word is, almost everyone in Bali has had their teeth filed down. What? Yup! Apparently, this ancient practice is deeply rooted in the belief that the six vices – anger, confusion, jealousy, drunkenness, desire, and greed – all enter the body through the top six teeth.

And so by filing away them away, the locals believe that these vices will not be able to enter and take root in the person

English/Indo words

Bahasa Indonesia has absorbed many loaned words from Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Portuguese, Dutch, Chinese and various other Austronesian languages.

The borrowing goes both ways in some cases. Like the English phrase ‘run amok’

Did you know that this phrase has Malay-Indonesian roots?

Amok originated from the Indonesian word mengamuk which roughly translates to “to make a furious and desperate charge,”

And individuals behaving in a reckless, violent manner, without cause or amok were believed to be possessed by hantu belian – an evil tiger spirit that entered one’s body and caused one to do heinous acts

So because of that belief, Indonesians tolerated amok and dealt with whatever consequences and assailants would get away, scot-free!

Indon/Anti-colonialism words

Indonesia was a regional superpower before it was colonized by the Dutch.

The Sri Vijaya and Majapahit Empires spanned the entire Indonesian archipelago, even including the present-day Malaysia and even the southern islands of the Philippines.

“Indonesia” was first used by the British in the mid-19th century.

The word comes from the Greek word nesos, which means ‘Indian island’, and the Latin name Indus which means land beyond the Indus river (indes).

Dutch colonists preferred to call Indonesia the Dutch East Indies or the Malayan Archipelago and so the name Indonesia was adopted for political expression by the anti-colonial movement in the early 20th century.


Have you ever noticed that the top six teeth of Balinese people are as straight as an arrow?

Have you wondered about the phrase run amok and how it came about?
Wonder no more

All this week on Globetrekker we celebrate Indonesia’s Independence Day

So join me Lynette Tan, Monday to Friday 12 to 1pm, for the real stories behind these myths as we unravel ancient Indonesian superstitions on Expat Radio 963XFM – your home away from home

About lynettetanblogs

Lynette Tan is Mrs Singapore Universe 2016. She believes in being beautiful and healthy, naturally. Her mantra? You're most beautiful, when you're You!

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