December 26, 2008

Batik & Ulos = birth of a baby?

A few days ago, I accompanied my mother to buy a batik cloth for my cousin. It is a tradition in my family for the elder family members to give a batik cloth as a baby gift (i.e. the uncles and aunts give it to their niece).

If you have ever lived in Indonesia, Batik shouldn't be something new for you. It is a cloth made by a special wax-resist dyeing technique, and especially associated with the Javanese culture.

Traditionally, Batik is used as a long skirt for women. Until today, it is still used by women in formal occasions (such as a wedding reception), where the batik is combined with a kebaya (a traditional blouse). Btw, I love kebaya!. Batik worn on formal occasions can cost up to millions, depending on the cloth, the design & the technique used to produce it.

Cheaper batik is made from lower quality cloth, which is usually thinner, and therefore can be used as a blanket. Another common use of Batik is as a traditional baby sling. When it is used as a baby sling, it is called a "kain gendong" (kain=cloth, gendong=carry). Photo of baby sling downloaded from

Whereas Batik is normally associated with something traditional, in the past year, Batik has been made into modern design clothing, making it a hot & trendy fashion. One brand that I love is Allure, unfortunately it is quite expensive.

It would be a shame for me to write about Batik, without mentioning Ulos, which is the traditional textile of Batak (my ethnicity).

Below is a picture of my Ulos. This was given to me by my grandmother when I was born, because I was the first-born. If you look carefully, you can see my name woven into it.

December 14, 2008

Sleeping in Indonesia

Last week I was given the task to buy bed linen as a wedding gift for my friend at the office. Since I have no idea about buying bed linen (ashamed (but content) to say, my mother still takes care of those things for me), I thought I would browse the internet to find some info.

Who would have thought that I actually was more confused after that? I went to Target's & Debenhams' website and a list of words came up : bed skirt, fitted sheet, flat sheet, comforter, duvet, quilt, pillow sham, throw, etc.

It took me quite a while, but after going to wikipedia & a couple of online dictionary sites, I think I understand what they mean now.

Luckily, here in Indonesia, sleeping is not such a complicated thing. A bed linen set typically consists of : pillow cases, bed sheets (usually flat sheets ;) ), and a guling cover.

What is a guling? It is a long tube-like pillow (a bolster) that is used by hugging it. It is a common & essential bed accessory for Indonesians, although if you stay at a hotel here, you won't find them on your bed.

Because of the tropical weather, blankets are not necessary. However, many mid to upper class people sleep with the air conditioner on, therefore duvets (in Indonesia the common term is bedcovers) are quite common. I myself don't have air conditioning in my room, but I use a batik cloth as a blanket (I'm going to write further about this in my next post).

Btw, it's almost 2 in the morning now. Time for me to go to bed!

December 8, 2008

Rambutan - the "hairy" fruit

I recently read in the newspaper that Barack Obama misses several Indonesian delicacies : Nasi goreng, Bakso and Rambutan. Well, he better hurry up because it is currently the harvest season for rambutan!

Rambutan is a fruit the size of a golf ball. The skin is "hairy", thus its name "rambutan" (rambut=hair). When it is ripe, the skin's colour turns from green to red. It then has a very sweet taste. However, there is a kind of rambutan that is known for its sweet taste eventhough it is still yellowish : Rambutan Rapia.

Luckily, I have a Rambutan Rapia tree in my backyard and since it is rambutan season, today we were plucking away!

Left : Hanging on the trees; Right : Hitting the branches with a bamboo stick so that the fruit falls down

Rambutan rapia has thicker hair compared to other types of rambutan

To eat the fruit, you must open the skin. Opening the skin can be done just by using your hands

December 4, 2008

JiFFEST 2008

I have been soooo busssyyyy the last couple of weeks, I haven't had the time to update my blog while in fact, I already have a couple of topics in mind I want to write about. Hopefully I'll have some free time next week.

In the mean time, because of my tight schedule, there is 1 event in Jakarta that I will probably not be able to go to :
The 10th Jakarta International Film Festival

This year it will be held from December 5th - 9th, 2008.
To see the films that will be shown, please go to their website :

For those of you who are going: Have fun!

Wish I could go to :(
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