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Oasis @ Star Deli, Kemang

Oasis live on! Well at least in Jakarta they do. They’re not quite as popular as they were mind you: there were maybe 30 punters packed into a tight and dark bar in downtown Kemang – a far cry from the huge stadiums they used to sell out. Not that this is a bad thing of course. In fact, I love small venues: You can actually see the band! And get a beer of course. I’ve always loved Oasis and their rousing tunes. What’s the story morning Glory. Slide away. Stand by me. These are songs even I can sing along to. How good were the Indonesian tribute band? Well, very good indeed. Check out the Star Deli Instagram account to see if/when they will be playing again. And you too can be transported back to the 90s once again…

The top one percent of the top one percent

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“ There’s a powerful group of people out there who are secretly running the world. I’m talking about the top 1 percent of the top 1 percent. The guys that play god without permission… ”   ~Mr Robot  When Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, announced that the entry fee for Indonesians to visit the world’s largest Buddhist temple Borobudur would be raised from Rp50k (US$3.38) to an astronomical Rp750k (US$50.74) there was an understandable backlash from all sections of Indonesian society. But was such a decision so surprising? I don’t think so. Sure, it was an absurd move given that the main threat facing the temple is not tourists anyway, but rather acid rain which is slowly but surely eating away at the temple’s rocks.  But Rp750k to someone like Luhut is not the same as Rp750k to the rakyat . Luhut’s net worth in 2021 was Rp716 billion. The minimum wage in Central Java, by comparison, is a measly Rp1.8 million. For a peasant

On a jungle utopia

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Indonesia really is going ahead with plans to build a new capital city in the jungles of Kalimantan . And from scratch! A visionary act or a folly of monumental proportions? Only time will tell of course but I can’t help but think that this project hasn’t been well thought through at all. Hahaha! But it’s not just about the fate of the National Monument of course.   Every single government ministry will need to be moved to Kalimantan. And what about the embassies of other countries which are now in Jakarta? Will they really want to move to Kalimantan given Jakarta’s strategic location and the fact that most of their citizens either live in Java or Bali? Gotta feel sorry for the Americans, in particular. Only a few years ago, they finished constructing their swanky new embassy in Jakarta for a cool US$300 million. What will be its fate? And if Jakarta really is sinking into the abyss, then why are huge public projects like the MRT and LRT still be continued? For what reason, exactl

Gunung Argopuro: The longest walk

Please send me evenings and weekends ~Gang of Four I’m writing up my thoughts on this trek a good while after actually doing it. Memory is always subject to bias as we tend to spin a positive narrative on our travelling experiences even if they are challenging, but I still remember this trek as one hell of a tough walk. Nothing extreme like the soul-crushing scree at the top of Semeru , but a damn long slog nonetheless, during which we covered around 55km in three days according to the GPS readings. To think you can walk that far through uninhabited areas including savannah and dense tropical rainforest in an island as densely populated as Java is quite incredible, and that’s especially true if, like me, you have become used to living in Indonesia’s madcap capital Jakarta, a city so congested that even the president has given up all hope and wishes to start afresh by building a new capital in the jungles of Borneo. Our journey began with a pricey flight from Jakarta to the salubri

Dicing with death to reach Brastagi, Lake Toba and the Sipiso Piso waterfall

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And so after many years of not visiting Sumatra, I was on my way again to this huge and rugged island for the third time in a year! That’s just the way things work out I guess. The roll of the dice. You never really know where you are headed to next and it may even be the case that you are actually visiting a place for the very last time. How was I to know? After all, the sun may rise every morning but, ultimately, there will come a day when you see it for the very last time. Having visited Pulau Weh for diving and West Sumatra/Jambi to climb Indonesia’s highest volcano ( Mount Kerinci ), I found myself on a Garuda flight to Medan for a short excursion in North Sumatra, an area home to the Batak people. Here in Jakarta, the Batak have established a reputation of being very hard working (at least by Indonesian standards) whether at the lower strata of society (as bus drivers or street-side tire repair workers) or at the upper levels (as high-profile lawyers, politicians and business

Image of the day (10): taking the mick

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Whoever designed this campaign poster in the wake of #UninstallBukalapak is, as we say in England (especially London), taking the mick...

Pulau Weh – a tropical island paradise but don’t expect any beer!

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Pulau Weh is a tropical island paradise but with a catch: it is part of the extremely conservative province of Aceh, the only place in Indonesia where sharia law is enforced. What this means is that unlike in Bali you won’t be sinking endless bir bintangs or having a good time in a dodgy nightclub. In fact, you won’t be drinking any booze at all since Pulau Weh is as dry as a krupuk prawn cracker. For me, the prospect of no alcohol wasn’t that much of a big deal (I can survive a week without any bir bintang - just). But what did worry me was the thought of religious zealots looking to create trouble for my Indonesian wife and me. That European?! What’s he doing with an Indonesian woman? And is she Muslim or not? Unfortunately, things have gotten pretty out of hand in some parts of Aceh, and in the regency of Bireuen, for example, restaurants are now obliged to ensure that male and female customers who are “not married or related to one another” do not share a table. More recently in