Blitar – Tales of Intrigue in East Java

Photos by David Metcalf/NOWJAKARTA Blitar is a quiet, friendly town in East Java. From mystical lakes with god-fish legends to the stunning Bung Karno Museum honouring the founder of Indonesia, it is full of history and intrigue, as well as colourful characters. At the entrance to the Bung Karno Museum and Library, a beautifully framed large

Makassar: A Living Maritime Heritage of Island Traders

There is a modern port in Makassar, but the harbour of Paotere is where the Portuguese and Dutch sailing ships moored centuries ago.  Photos courtesy of David Metcalf/NOWJAKARTA Walking towards a long line of tall traditional pinisi boats in the historic Paotere Harbour in Makassar, I caught whiffs of freshly cut timber. I watched strong, sinewy sailors

Into the Wilds – West Kalimantan

Photos by David Metcalf/NOWJAKARTA Sitting on a woven mat, I listened as a Dayak Simpang elder explained, “Our history and our story are told through the old songs.” I was in Ketapang Regency, around four hours from Pontianak, the gateway city to West Kalimantan. I sat captivated as he continued, “We moved a long time

Seram Island – Meeting the Nuaulu Tribe

Seram Island in Maluku Province of Indonesia is steeped in tradition. Deep in its mountains and along its coast, several indigenous tribes still hunt with long wooden spears and adhere to their old ways of life. The largest island in the Maluku archipelago, Seram is known affectionately as the Nusa Ina (Mother Island) and is considered the

Bali International Indigenous Film Festival Kicks off Tomorrow

Stories That Matter is the theme of the second Bali International Indigenous Film Festival on 10-12 May.  40 films from 14 countries will be presented and 25 directors in attendance with Q & A sessions. Marko Randelovic's film "KAYAN" will be screening at 2019 Bali International Indigenous Film Festival in Ubud, Bali. The Kayan people of Northern Thailand’s

A Stone Chair Village, Lake Toba, Sumatra

On Samosir Island, Lake Toba lies the little village of Ambarita. Tales abound there of rough justice, and possibly even cannibalism. While these are from long ago, more benign old ways live on, for example in the village’s traditional architecture, and an ancient craft still practiced there. From grim stories of executions to a traditional

Ancient Threads Woven in Karangasem

The long trek to the village of Jungutan, East Bali, the site of the Karangasem World Cultural Village Festival is well worth it. Imet Miliwanga Wurrben, an Australian aboriginal elder and healer presented indigenous healing ritual at Karangasem World Cultural Village Festival. Photo by David metclaf/NOW!JAKARTA Imet Miliwanga Wurrben, an Australian aboriginal elder and healer, in a most

Cock Fighting Showdown

I witnessed my first cockfight in Bali, in a small village just outside Ubud. I stumbled upon it by chance when I was running, with a local sports club, on a Saturday afternoon. Our route took us through a temple complex in the middle of the jungle, where we came across a cockfight. Only men

Indonesia’s Hidden Heritage

Each month, our intrepid traveling duo Stephanie Brookes, Writer and David Metcalf, Photographer set off to explore some of the lesser-known enclaves of Indonesia and bring back tales of hidden heritage and culture. Over the last 12 months, NOW! Jakarta magazine has covered unique festivals and celebrations of some of the diverse cultures that make up

Suku Sawang Orang Belitung Island

Belitung Island emerges gracefully out of the Java Sea inviting curiosity and exploration. It does not disappoint. It is unquestionably a place of extraordinary and untouched beauty. The beaches are chalky white, and are touted to be some of the most exquisite in South East Asia. Huge granite boulders rise out of the sea, forming

Butterflies and Palaces of Buton

Discovering obscure islands in Indonesia can bring the traveler face to face with ancient history, exotic island-bound animals and cultural experiences of extraordinary depths. When I found myself in Buton Island, I knew I had discovered a unique place indeed. Buton is just off the southeast peninsular of Sulawesi near the gateway to the famous

Dancing The Cakalele

The sound of the ancient gong called the two warriors to the stage. This was no ordinary stage; we were on a remote island in the Malukus, the birthplace of the original Cakalele dance. The children scrambled from wooden huts and humble dwellings and jostled for position on a huge piece of driftwood washed up

Venturing Into the Wild at Sebangau National Park

I started my trek in the Sabangau National Park, Central Kalimantan under a veil of darkness.  The earthy smell of the peat bog forest rose sharply to greet me as I held my torch steady so as not to trip and fall into the organic black water swamp that lay on either side. I was

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