the people square

a community serious about adventuring

15 Things I Learned In Indonesia

Indonesia is the fourth largest population in the world and home to the largest enclave of Muslim people. Indonesia is made up of 17,508 islands and about 300 different ethnic groups.

Lakes Change Colour  –  Atop the Kelimutu volcano on the Flores Island is where three crater lakes change colour.” Tiwu Ata Mbupu (Lake of Old People) is usually blue and is the westernmost of the three lakes. The other two lakes, Tiwu Nuwa Muri Koo Fai (Lake of Young Men and Maidens) and Tiwu Ata Polo (Bewitched or Enchanted Lake) are separated by a shared crater wall and are typically green or red respectively. The lake colors vary on a periodic basis. Sub aqueous fumaroles are the probable cause of active upwelling that occurs at the two eastern lakes.” (Thank you Wikipedia).

Flat tires are patched up over a campfire – Indonesia roads are ruthless and damaging to your car. But, should you have a tire blow out on you, to watch the process in which locals repair tires is interesting and heartwarming.

Scooter Scams are common – Be mindful of where you keep your scooter parked and make sure that you lock it. Scooter shops have been known to steal back their bikes from you, then demand you pay a fee for its disappearance after you explain your misfortune to the ‘thieving’ shop.

You can drink Cat-Poo Coffee – On the island of Bali there is a process of making coffee that involves the excrement of civets (a type of cat).  It is properly called Kopi Luwak and is arguably the most expensive coffee in the world. The coffee beans are eaten by farm civets that then poop them out. The crappy beans are then collected and roasted for coffee production.

The World’s Worst Road Is Here – In Kuta, Lombok the main road that runs through the town and up and over towards Mawun Beach is possibly the most pot-holed road in existence. Out of our scooter group of three, there were three topples due to the dangerously rugged terrain. According to the Kuta, Lombok locals the road is expected to see repair by 2013.

I Could Live On Gili Trawangan Forever – Gili T, as it is called for short, has no motorized vehicles operating on it; you get around by bike, horse and carriage or by foot.  You can walk the entire island in about two hours.

Indonesia is home to both the most beautiful beach and dirtiest beach I’ve ever seen – On Lombok, about  3.5 km east of Kuta Beach is Seger Beach. A shallow, clay bedded bay that is the most stunning white turquoise colour. Climbing up the adjacent grassy hill offers sheep encounters and a great sunset view. Over on Kuta, Bali, the main beach is where most novice surfers litter the waters as well as piles of garbage that pile up along the sandy banks closest to the water’s edge. The litter stretches the length of the entire beach.

What an Extra Joss Shot is – A mixture of Extra Joss energy powder (illegal everywhere except Indonesia and the Philippines) and vodka. The shot can be found at the Irish pub called Tir Na Nog or in the privacy of your own island accommodations. Empty the entire packed of Joss into your mouth, but don’t swallow it. Pour the vodka shot into your mouth with the powder. Close your mouth because the combination fizzes up like a grade four volcano project. Shake your head to mix the contents and swallow.

Children Make Good Jockeys – The first ever Sasak Horse race was held on Lombok while we were visiting. A tradition of the island of S…., the horses are decorated and designed with a shaver and coloured paint. Riders ride bareback and without reins, their size helping them finish faster. Only these aren’t adult jockeys, they’re children no older than 12.

Worms are Lucky – The Putri Nyale festival is an annual festival celebrated in early February on is the island of Lombok.  Sasak people flock to beaches retrieving water said to contain glowing worms that bring good luck to the beholder. Legend says that the worms represent the hair of a goddess that drowned herself in the waters here because she would not share her love between her home country and a man whom she was to marry. She killed herself to show that she would love anything, or anyone, more than Indonesia.

Peanuts grow on trees – Don’t judge me. Where I come from we don’t have peanut trees.

How to cook like an Indonesian – On Kuta, Lombok you can learn how to cook any Indonesia cuisine you’d like. Yanti’s Cooking class takes you to a local market where you can hand pick your own fresh ingredients and then to her family’s home in a small village where you will drink a hand-picked coconut and learn to Yanti’s special recipes. We learned how to make Gado Gado, Nasi Goreng, Sea Food Curry and Chili Prawns. Thank you to Ralph, Yanti and Raya for your generosity and kindness.

The Mangiest Cats Live Here– Inbreeding is the reason behind the strange looking Indonesian cats. Because of the thousands of islands that make up Indonesia, the cats have shrunk their own gene pools through mating within the family chain. The cats are typically quite small in size and have about an inch of tail.

The Bugs Are Big – That’s no bird…that’s a moth.

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14 comments on “15 Things I Learned In Indonesia

  1. Edna
    May 2, 2012

    That photo of the guy holding the cat is ADORABLE. What joy!

  2. snowflakewhispers
    May 2, 2012

    I had heard about the cat poo coffee…..glad u could taste it…..nice list….and amazing pictures…

  3. Fantastic photos and I love the slightly quirky take on Indonesia. Off to Bali in June and will definitely be on the lookout for the mangy cats (might pass on the poo coffee tho)

    • Lindsay Anne Williams
      May 4, 2012

      Thank you! I’ll be curious to know if Kuta, Bali’s beach is still ridden with trash. If you like coffee in general, the Bali coffee (sans poo) is pretty delicious.

      • Personally I’m not a huge fan of Kuta and may not even get there! (staying at Jimbaran Bay)

  4. Paul Horrocks
    May 4, 2012

    Brilliant article. I should be arriving in Indonesia mid way through next year and I really don’t know what to expect. You’ve highlighted a few places I think I might treat myself to and visit. Was the Kelimutu volcano difficult to get to?

    • Lindsay Anne Williams
      May 4, 2012

      There are several airports in Flores, and the main one is at Maumere. There are also daily flights between Labuanbajo and both Denpasar and Lombok .

      A number of companies organise 4 day sailing trips between Lombok or Bali and Flores which take in Komodo and Rinca. These cost around Rp1 million passengers should be aware that these trips can cross open waters and are on boats with no navigation or safety equipment other than some lifejackets (i.e. no radio, flares or life rafts).

      Once in Flores getting up the volcano isn’t difficult…it’s just the getting there that can be a bit lengthy if you don’t fly…flying can be quite costly (as are most flights around the Indonesian islands).

      Thank you for your comment, Paul. Enjoy Indonesia!

  5. the gili islands
    September 7, 2012

    Undeniably consider that that you said. Your favourite justification appeared to be at the internet the simplest factor to take into account of. I say to you, I definitely get irked whilst folks consider issues that they plainly do not recognize about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the entire thing with no need side-effects , folks could take a signal. Will probably be again to get more. Thanks

    • the people square
      September 10, 2012

      The Gili Islands were one of my favourite places in Indonesia. I hope to get back there one day again. Thank you very much for your comment The Gili Islands 🙂

  6. Leslie
    May 23, 2013

    I am in Indonesia now. Tangerang… Indonesia is such a beautiful country! I am supposed to be traveling to Pari Island on Sunday.

    I have a blog… I document my travels mainly via pictures on wordpress.

    My email is

    Are you still in Asia?

    • the people square
      May 25, 2013

      Hi Leslie – I’m not still in Asia, though I wish I was. Where are you going next? Did you see Pari Island. You site is wonderful. I’m following. You must see the Gili Islands – oh, and you have to see Flores Island and Kelimutu Lake where the waters change colour.

      The People Square

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    October 28, 2013

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