Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thug Culture

I need to learn about Preman in Indonesia.

Preman are the local thugs that you pay protection money to.

Indonesia's police have been more or less worthless, so it sort of sense that a locality's security is somewhat privatised. Even though you are paying money to some kind of local mafia.

In any case, vice president (and presidential candidate) Kalla has said Indonesia needs a Preman to run the country not a bureaucrat. Maybe something gets lost in translation.

As I said, I need to learn more about this.


My pal, Ayu, has written up a little about her recent travels through Lampung.

Hopefully there will be more to come!!

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Breaking up Indonesia

I remember when I first went to Bali.

I had been living with my ex girlfriend's family in Jakarta for a couple of weeks. They were great, in fact more than great, I think that family is directly responsible for my love of Indonesia.

Nevertheless Jakarta was a huge shock to the system : ) I do not mind eating rice for example, but having it e.v.e.r.y. day was tough going!!

Then we went to Jogja for a few days, and that was good. But we were staying at a friend's family's house, and being my first time in a Muslim country, the conservativeness was kind of getting to me (I had lived in Germany for years, the difference was huge!).

So when we reached Bali, we could be ourselves, eat Western food. I loved it.

Westerner's perceptions of Bali are weird.

I remember one of my friends complaining about a Westerner who thought Bali was an independent country.In Ireland, Bali is typically known as a honeymoon spot, which is kind of weird if you think about it.

For me Bali is just a wondiverous place and associating it specifically with honeymooning takes away from its depth and richness.

At least, Bali is known for *something* though, the point is its image is not subsumed in the Indonesian blamange.

Whenever Indonesia gets its tourist marketing strategy up to speed it will market each island individually. If Bali is known for honeymooning (yuck, really yuck!) Java will be known for the shopping malls of Jakarta and the Batika of Jogja and Solo; Sumatra for it's landscapes; Kalimantan for adventure and wildlife holidays; Manado for diving.

I am just pulling these ideas from thin air, but you get the idea. The marketing will be largely inaccurate (as with most marketing) but these ideas will stick in people's heads. You want to dive, head to Manado, you want to see wildlife head to Kalimantan, you want to shop head to Java.

The names Java or Sumatra or Manado can conjure up much more interesting visions than Indonesia. Indonesia has to drop it's unity in diversity if it wants to attract visitors.