Tag Archives: Indonesia

On Food: My Cuisine in Jogja & DFD

Here are some of my favorite foods that I tried while in Jogja:

Gado-Gado or Lotek


A Javanese dish composed mainly of lightly cooked vegetables, potatoes, and rice with a rich peanut sauce. It is a sweet dish in Jogja, but it is a salty dish in more western parts of the country.

Nasi Goreng (Ayam, Bebek, Telor…)

Nasi GorengTelor     Nasi Goreng Ayam + Telor

I ate this a lot. It’s simply fried rice with egg and chicken, and it is good pretty much anywhere.


Pancake with Chocolate Ice Cream     Pancake

There are many pancake shops in Jogja. Unlike in America, pancakes are usually eaten for snacks throughout the day instead of for breakfast. The two pictured above were from Maryanne’s — a pancake and ice cream shop near Anna’s Homestay.

Mie Aceh (kuah)

Mie Aceh Kuah

A spicy dish from the Aceh region, one can choose to get it kuah (soup), or goreng (dry). This dish is not a joke — you better get it tidak pedas (without spice).

Ayam Geprek

Ayam Geprek

This is a very interesting dish: you tell the cook how many chilis you want, and he or she grinds them up on a concave stone. Then, the cook takes a piece of fried chicken and pounds it into the stone with the chilis. It can be extremely spicy, and I usually only got 1 chili or half of 1 chili. I heard at one place that the record number of chilis in one Ayam Geprek is about 200.



You cannot escape tempe if you spend any time in Yogyakarta. There are many variations, but it is usually fried soybeans, and it is really good with sambal — a common spicy sauce.



This fruit kind of tastes like a cross between an apple and an onion if you ask me, but it is everywhere in Jogja, and is worth a try.


Disaster Risk Reduction

On October 26th 2010, Yogyakarta was plagued by a series of extremely damaging eruptions. Mount Merapi–one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world–threw debris, stones, sand, and other volcanic materials at the surrounding villages.

The Indonesian government provides assistance to disaster survivors. The general philosophy of providing assistance is to promote a collaborative effort to find the best and most sustainable solution. The Department of General Affairs of Indonesia created Rekompak as a more specialized body to take a regional approach to solving reconstruction problems. Rekompak has been involved in the relief programs of many regional disasters such as the Aceh Tsunami of 2004, and the earthquake in Yogyakarta of 2008. Rekompak’s position is that of a “helper to a community”; they assist people in reconstructing their lives and planning their futures. Rekompak provides people with advice on how they should proceed, but they do not force them to take certain action (Interview with Wijayanto, July 2014). The national government of Indonesia placed the Merapi DRR program in Rekompak’s hands.

At Merapi, the Indonesian government mandated that the community within the red-zone (20 km from the summit) move to a location of lower elevation. The Merapi eruptions survivors who did not wish to move out of the red-zone were not eligible for governmental assistance. It is easy to speculate on the reasons for which the people did not move. However, the less intuitive reason has important implications: the survivors have spiritual connections to their land on Merapi. Their beliefs hold that Merapi is a holy place where gods and godesses live. Therefore, even if an eruption were to occur, the loyal locals would remain unharmed. Rekompak assisted the Merapi eruptions survivors who were willing to abandon their land in finding new real estate, and paid for the acquisition of it. Once Rekompak found the land, the survivors were responsible for partitioning it equitably among the people of the community. Once it was time to build, Rekompak assisted in finding contractors and other construction workers to do the job, but the choice of whom they would hire was ultimately given to the Merapi eruptions survivors. Likewise, when it came to the materials and other logistical decisions, the people were responsible for making them.

Rekompak’s hands-off way of guiding people is problematic because it demands unfair participation of them. The Merapi eruptions survivors lost everything and then were asked to reconstruct their villages in a new place with no knowledge of how to do it. This placed a huge burden on the people, as the institutional memory that is necessary for a project of this magnitude does not exist. IDEA conducted a social audit to assess the legitimacy and success of the program a couple of years after the DRR program had been initiated.

In July of 2014, my internship with IDEA led me to assess the DRR program with IDEA’s supervision, specifically analyzing the progress that had been made in augmenting the DRR program since IDEA’s first social audit.

Gandrung: A Look at “Cultural Preservation” Through Dance

Dance has always played a big role in Indonesia and it has changed dramatically over time. The research methodologies course I am currently taking at UGM featured a guest lecturer recently who grew up in West Java. Dyah–a professor of Dance and Southeast Asian Studies–talked to us about narrative and memory in Indonesia throughout the Soeharto period. She talked about a traditional dance that has undergone many changes since 1965: Gandrung. She broke up her lecture into two parts: the narrative of the dance, and the impact of surveillance on its role in the community.

Professor Dyah at UGM.

Professor Dyah at UGM.


Dyah learned the Gandrung during her childhood in West Java, from her grandmother. Before the massacres of 1965, the traditional dance was performed by women in order to ensure the prosperity of the year’s harvest. It was not a performance in the modern sense of the word (with makeup and costumes), but an important ritual that brought prosperity to the village. To Dyah, the dance was empowering because it enabled the women of the village to be leaders in providing for themselves and others; a feminist ideal very engrained in the community’s culture. Today, however, the narrative of the dance is quite different.


Before 1965, in a stereotypical household, the mother planted rice, and the father tended to the buffalo. This created a sort of equality between the role of the husband and wife in a family in which both supported the land and the family. In 1965, Soeharto’s new regime brought about an anticommunist movement, which violently changed Indonesian culture. The “equitable” way the men and women of Western Java shared roles in the household was deemed inherently communist by the state, and was therefore terminated. The military massacred many villagers in the name of “democracy”. This changed the way villages farmed and because the state mandated a male-dominated economic system, there was no longer a reason for the women to perform the Gandrung.

In 1998, when the anticommunism movement ended, the dance returned as a way for Indonesian people to discover their identities and to remember their history. It was brought back–under the supervision of the state–in the form of grand performances with a large focus on aesthetics. The purpose of the dance for the dancers changed from nourishing the village in the pre-1965 period, to discovering personal identity today. The modern version of the dance also attempts to tell people how to remember the past. Because the state supervises national performances, it effectively rewrites memory to shape morale. Dyah implored us to consider the possibility of revisionism when conducting our research projects.

Indonesian Art

With the elections coming up in July, many artists have created propaganda to evoke conversation. The art displayed below was all done by a few street artists who live in Yogyakarta.


Image 1

“Piye Kabare” (Images 1-3) means “how are you?” in Javanese. It is a polite greeting and is used in the image above to show that the main figure is talking to the audience when he says “Jamanku” (my time) or “Lolipop murah” (cheap lollipops).


Image 2

The word “Jamanku” (my time) depicted in these images of artwork references the reign of Soeharto — President of Indonesia from 1967 to 1998.  Soeharto was the second president of Indonesia; he sustained his rule through a climate of fear. At the same time — during his leadership — Indonesia experienced unprecedented economic growth and prosperity, which is why many still revere him.


Image 3

The phrases on these works (pictured above) together basically mean “hey, remember those good times?”. The joke is that during Soeharto’s reign, things were only truly good for the elite. During his “New Order Regime”, inequality of wealth was terrible and poverty hit the vast majority of Indonesians extremely hard. So the joke just shows how out of touch Soeharto was with his people, and the people want a new president who will look out for them.

Candis are very old temples that have rich histories and cool legends ascribed to them. The following Candis (Image 4-8) are in the process of being rebuilt.


Image 4

Candis each have a keystone which shows how each one needs to be built. The stones fit together so tightly that the building process does not require cement. Each stone only fits in one place, so the rebuilding process takes a long time and is incredibly meticulous.


Image 5


Image 6



Image 8


Image 7












Image 9








On Friday, I finished a three-week intensive language course at Universitas Sanata Dharma. I will continue the same bahasa Indonesia course in mid-July.

Monday I began work at IDEA (Institute for Development and Economic Analysis). I will be taking part in one of their projects at Mount Merapi, in which I willinterview locals affected by the eruptions four years ago.


Image 10


This bumper sticker (Image 10) shows a ballot for the presidential election. IDEA is making slight efforts to support Jokowi — a young, progressive candidate. This sticker is realistic: ballots for the presidential elections actually contain pictures of the candidates.




Image 11

IDEA’s work mainly consists of budget advocacy. They conduct socialaudits and lobby for legislative changes to be made at the regional, provincial, and national levels of government. Books — such as the one depicted below (image 12) – explaining legal documents and budgets in laymen’s terms, and graphic descriptions (Image 11) are vehicles that IDEA uses to make budgets and legislation more transparent.


Image 12


Finally Pictures!

Selamat Pagi/Siang/Sore/ Malam! (good morning/afternoon/evening/night! – for what ever timezone you are reading this in :) )

After a long delay and resolving some technical issues I am finally able to post pictures!

This is the home-stay in which I am living for my three months here. Beautiful!

This is the home-stay in which I am living for my three months here. Beautiful!

All the rooms in the home-stay open up to a small court yard, as depicted here. On the roof is a small garden.

All the rooms in the home-stay open up to a small court yard, as depicted here. On the roof is a small garden.

I am now approaching the end of my third week in Yogyakarta and it has been great thus far! My time has mostly been occupied with language classes, cultural activities, and meeting the NGO and Indonesian counterpart that I will be working with for the rest of my time here starting next week. Although my research topic is still not solidified my partner and I have come up with a few topics to jumpstart our research. Thus, far we have mostly discussed possibly researching the relationship between the propaganda and the portrayal of radical Islam by the media. This topic is slightly different compared to my precious entry but that is one of the most interesting aspects about doing research: the transformation and development of the topic due to new information and/or expanded interest. This new direction as resulted from not only a combination of my partner’s interest but also an observance of an obviously dominant Islamic presence. With Ramadan approaching as well as the 5th democratic presidential elections in Indonesia since the fall of a dictatorship, I am very excited to see where my research and work with LKIS leads me. Until then enjoy the pictures below!

Dahee (BMC '16 front right pink shirt) and I surrounded by our language instructors.

Dahee (BMC ’16 front right pink shirt) and I surrounded by our language instructors.

A form of Hinduism practiced in Bali. ( I will be traveling there later!) But this temple is located in Yogyakarta.

Balinese Hindu temple. A form of Hinduism practiced in Bali. ( I will be traveling there later!) But this temple is located in Yogyakarta.

My usual meal is Nasi goreng ayam telor (fried rice with chicken and egg) with Krupuk chips and iced lemon tea.  Krupuk chips are fried with to real flavor and are similar to sabritones ( a mexican snack) except Krupuk doen't have spices on it.

My usual meal is Nasi goreng ayam telor (fried rice with chicken and egg) with Krupuk chips and iced lemon tea. Krupuk chips (top left of the plate) are fried with to real flavor and are similar to sabritones ( a mexican snack) except Krupuk doen’t have spices on it.


Preparing to visit temples with our Indonesia research partners. All visitors (male and female) must wear a sarong (long fabric wrapped around the waist).

Preparing to visit temples with our Indonesia research partners. All visitors (male and female) must wear a sarong (long fabric wrapped around the waist). Banu ( my research partner on the far left), Me (HC ’16), Dahee Park (BMC ’16) Kelsey Weymouth (BMC ’16) and Fatimah (a research partner far right).

One of the most famous Hindu temples in Indonesia.

Prambanan, one of the most famous Hindu temples in Indonesia.



Prambanan carvings.

Prambanan carvings.

Carving of a lion surrounded by kalpataru trees (sacred wish granting trees).

Carving of a lion surrounded by kalpataru trees (sacred wish granting trees).



Horse trance dance. Dancers are put in a trace and proceed to dance and act like a horse. They also wear a horse costume. It is a native dance to Java. In this image a dancer is coming out of the trace dance.

Horse trance dance. Dancers are put in a trace and proceed to dance and act like a horse. They also wear a horse costume. It is a native dance to Java. In this image a dancer is coming out of the trace dance.

The horse costumes.

The horse costumes.

Settling in: Anna Soemitro Homestay

While strolling through the airport in Jakarta (one of Indonesia’s largest cities), I found myself wondering if, between Japan and Indonesia, I could have traveled back a few decades. There was barely any security throughout the airport, people were not really listening to music or using their phones, and, as I boarded the airplane, there were stacks of newspapers up to my neck for the passengers to take. Unfortunately, not one was in English.

Upon arrival in Jogja, we met Izzy and Sani, who drove us to our new home: Anna’s Homestay. In Indonesia, homestays are a business. All six interns, plus three of our Indonesian counterparts are staying at Anna’s for the summer.

Right outside my room, a manmade aquarium (below) protects the house from flooding when it rains.

Fish Pond and Plant life

It sits beneath the open portion of the rooftop garden (below), which naturally lights up the whole house.

Rooftop Garden

Between visitors and Nisa (Anna’s daughter), the Hoemstay is always bustling.  I was expecting to be placed in a small home with a family and to really get to know them, so it was a bit of a shock to experience the first few days without ever sitting down with Anna, Nisa, or Ibu (“mom” in Bahasa). That being said, it has been a great place to stay. It is pretty close to Universitas Sanata Dharma, so the 8 am walk to class isn’t bad, and there are many cool restaurants and coffee shops in the area.

Lagani is a popular, AIR CONDITIONED, coffee shop, where I sometimes go to get some work done and to escape the heat and humidity. They have good coffees (mocha in the picture below) and they have some pretty odd drinks like “red velvet”, for people who don’t drink coffee.

Lagani CoffeeThe small white cup next to the coffee (above) is filled with palm sugar. Yogyakarta is known for its sweet cuisine, but sometimes they make accommodations for outsiders. In my brief time in Jogja, it seems that the more tourist-y or less Indonesian restaurants and cafés (such as Lagani and Il Mondo) are the ones that serve sugar on the side.

For a good, authentic, Indonesian meal, I recommend Gado-Gado (being prepared below). It is a true Indonesia dish that is a little different at each restaurant. It’s basically a thick peanut sauce served over slightly cooked vegetables; it’s delicious.GadoGadoAside from coffee shops and restaurants, Anna’s Homestay is fairly close to Malioboro, a large market where one can buy bags, batik clothing, or handmade items. Batik is a traditional method used to make patterned clothing in Indonesia. The fabric used is usually very light because the climate is hot all year long, and it is definitely still in style today.

Selamat Malam, Yogyakarta!

Selamat Malam! My name is Joe Leroux and I am one of the Indonesia Research Interns for the summer of 2014. The CPGC works with Volunteers in Asia (VIA) every year to organize a 10-week program consisting of three parts:

For the first part, I will take a 3-week intensive Bahasa (the language spoken in Jogja) course at Universitas Sanata Dharma.

For the second part, I will travel deeper into the city to work for an NGO called IDEA (Institute for Development and Economic Analysis), whose work is mainly focused on budget advocacy and transparency. What does that mean? In different parts of the country, wealth is defined differently, so something like owning a television does not mean the same thing in different cities and towns. IDEA researched this problem from a budgetary auditing perspective, looking at the way in which this difference in standard of living was (or was not) being accounted for in the methods used by the government to calculate welfare eligibility and benefits. Hopefully I’ll be able to work on some cool projects like this one!

For the third part, I will work with an Indonesian student on a research project, while taking an intensive course on research methodologies at UGM (Universitas Gadjah Mada). I plan to solidify my project ideas when I know more about the work I can do at IDEA–I certainly have my work cut out for me!

OK–I’m done introducing my project now, so from here on out I will be writing about my experiences after they’ve happened instead of before! Sampai Jumpa!

Arrival in Indonesia

Thursday. June 5, 2014


First, off what am I doing in Indonesia? In a nutshell I will be doing research; as of now the topic is still broad and is a work in progress. Thus far the basics are how social justice and conflict resolution between interfaith groups has been approached by the government and local community in Jogjakarta. For this research I will be working with local NGOs: the Institute for the Study of Islam and Social Justice (LKIS) and the Institute for the Study of Islam and Politics. My research and work won’t start for another two weeks; until then I will be taking language classes at Universitas Sanata Dharma. I am really excited about my research and can’t wait to start!

After four flights and one overnight in Jakarta we finally arrived in Jogjakarta on Tuesday June 2nd.  We arrived at our home-stay very jet-lagged and a bit dazed. Going into this I had only imagined what Indonesia would be like more specifically our living conditions facilities that we would be using. For the home-stay I expected to be living very closely with a family in a moderate sized house but with plenty of interaction with the family. Contrary to my imagination the house is very large, open to the outside in that there is a courtyard in the middle that all of the rooms open up to. It is also two stories with a roof-top garden. Contact with the family however, is not as direct as I expected and hoped for. The mom (Anna) and daughter (Nisa), who are the only people who live in this house, stay on their side for the most part going about their daily lives and chores while we come and go. Today we made an effort to interact more with them but it was limited to asking for directions that resulted in Anna escorting us, due to our lack of language ability, during the walk we tried to ask questions with our limited vocabulary and discovered that she has no brothers and sisters. At this point our language abilities limit our communication but I am hopeful that as time passes we will be able to communicate more.

However, while our language level is very limiting we have also learned a lot in the four classes that we have had since our arrival two days ago. We had our first free time this evening after class! We took this as a chance to find a coffee shop and practice speaking. All was going well until we had to find our way back to the home-stay with out the help of Anna.  We ended up getting lost and going in a big circle before we finally got back to our home-stay.

Later that night we went out to a restaurant and then to the city square, Karaton Square. The restaurant was buffet style with an assortment of food from kidney to snail. While I am not a few of kidney and snail there were also spicy chicken skewers that were amazing!  In the town square, which also happens to be a big tourist attraction, there were light cars (as depicted below) that could be rented for individuals to drive a few times around the square. Naturally we did! But these cars aren’t your traditional idea of a car. Aside from being decorated completely with lights it is powered by a series of pedals (like a bike) that the each passenger can use. With music blasting in the background from the built in speakers we pedaled and raced each other around the square weaving through traffic of all types.

In the middle of the square there is a large recreation area with two large Waringin trees and a series of small vendors. There is a game in which is played where a person stands at the end of the lawn directly across from the trees and is blindfolded. Then the blindfolded person must try to walk in a straight-line in-between and past the two trees. If successful it means that the person will be lucky! Because the square is crowded it is best if the blindfolded person has a partner to direct them when to stop if they are about to walk into a person, vendor or the street, but other than that they are not supposed to give any instructions. Out of the six of us I was the only one not to make it, haha, I ended up getting way off course and walking in the direction of my friends voice when I was instructed to stop and go, which led me to the corners of the square.

Overall today was my first real day of feeling like I am in a different country and picking up on different cultural cues. My first day (6/2) was spent traveling from Jakarta to Jogja. And Yesterday was spent in class, getting things such as a local phone and recovering from jetlag. Now that I am well rested and I am excited to start experiencing the local culture. (My next two weeks will be solely occupied with cultural “education” and language practice!)