5 things you didn't know about Indonesia
1. There's more than batik
Indonesia and Bali are particularly famous for their fine crafts, especially concerning textile items. While traveling to the various islands you will notice the variety of local production, which differs according to the different ethnic groups. Famous is the batik, the art of covering fabrics in wax, which are then dyed with bright colors. This practice, widespread in particular in Yogyakarta and Java, however, is not the only one worthy of interest. In fact there are also the famous ikat fabrics in Flores (see image below), colored fabrics with allegorical representations, or knives and traditional swords embellished with jewels that are called kris.
2. The incredible Ijen volcano
Java hosts Ijen volcano, whose crater contains a mine of molten sulfur, which looks like a lake that gives off a very unpleasant smell. Miners work tirelessly in the volcano extracting every day up to 90 kg of sulfur, which is formed by the puffs of the volcano emitting a red liquid mixed to vapor which solidifies with air.
3. Indonesia on the table
What do you eat in Indonesia? First of all, the cuisine varies from island to island, but you will eat mostly rice, accompanied with meat, fish, fruits and vegetables. The nasi goreng is the national dish: it is boiled rice, fried with vegetables, meat, fish, eggs and shrimp. The mi goreng is very similar, prepared with the same ingredients, but with noodles instead of rice. In Java you will mostly eat fried chicken, spicy and boiled with coconut cream, or the gudeg, boiled breadfruit. These plates are then typically served with boiled buffalo skin with chilli sauce.
Other popular dishes are the soto, meat and spicy vegetables, and bakmi goreng, Chinese pasta with eggs and crabs. If you are not too picky in the Manado area you can even taste dog meat with spices, peppers, field mice and bats. Then let yourself be tempted by tasty tropical fruits with exotic names: the cirimoia, the durion, guava, jackfruit, rambutan, to name a few.
4. Bali's superstitions
Bali is home to a population of Hindus, whose culture is highly superstitious. For example, it is believed that babies should not put their feet on the ground until one year of age, to avoid being possessed by demons. For this reason, small children are always held in adults' arms, often passed from one relative to another. There is then another superstition regarding teeth: the Balinese have very sharp teeth as it is a widespread belief that capital sins enter the human body through the latter, then people cut out the tips of their teeth to prevent their entry.
5. Civet coffee
In Indonesia the breeding of palm civet, approximately as big as a cat, is quite common. It is fed with coffee berries and Indonesians use the civet feces to produce the Kopi Luwak, the most expensive coffee in the world, due to its unique flavor. Also known as civet coffee, it is particularly delicious because, when the animal eats the coffee berries, the digestive enzymes eliminate the proteins that give a bitter taste to the feces.