6 February 2014

Clove cigarettes, rice and the call to morning prayer

With Lisa, visiting the temples of Prambanan (Hindu)
27 days. That's what I call a good first glimpse at Indonesia. Or Java, to be more precise. I liked what I saw and experienced so far and therefore I'm already looking forward to spend a lot more time in Indonesia between April and September.











Sweet red rice, fruit jelly (pink) and fruit
Except for a short holiday in Sri Lanka, this is my first time in Asia. Before arriving, I feared I might not be into rice three times a day. After almost a month, my fear has been relieved. As there is a great variety of things to go with rice, it truly never gets boring. Yes, a meal without rice isn't really a meal and even noodles are often mixed with the white grains. But when it comes to taste, it's all about the sauces. Tahu (tofu), chicken, beans, greens, tempeh (fermented soy beans, thanks Ally for clarifying) usually seasoned with a lot of sambal (chili sauce). De-li-cious! And I didn't even get started with the sweets.

Unlike in Europe, smoking is still ubiquitous in Indonesia. Here in Java, most men smoke. It's almost a surprise if someone doesn't. And they do it everywhere. In restaurants, in hotel rooms, on the bus. Even on climatized air-con buses with "no smoking" signs, the bus driver, the conductor and the passengers sitting close to the doors will often smoke. And usually clove scented cigarettes. In old days, Indonesian cloves were exported throughout the whole world. Today, Indonesia has to import cloves due to it's peoples love for kretek (clove cigarettes).

Visiting a microcredit project in rural Central Java
Indonesia is the largest predominantly Muslim nation in this world. And religion is very present in everyday life. A lot of women choose to cover their hair, mosques are ubiquitous in Java and so are the calls to prayer. Five times a day, every day. In the beginning, I always woke up with the first "allahu akbar" of the day. After two weeks or so, I started to sleep through and only wake up at 7, when it's getting too hot to sleep in our room. (I hope none of my friends will take offence in this. I respect everyone's religion, I'm just not a religions person myself.)

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