Full Moon Rising, Buddha’s Birthday Party

Every May, a vibrant festival is held at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple, located in Central Java. Buddhists from the far reaches of Asia gather to celebrate the holy festival known as Waisak, celebrating Buddha’s birthday. “I used to be a Thai Airways flight attendant,” the monk said,

The Wana Wanderers of Sulawesi

There is only one way to meet the Wana tribe. You must walk into their rugged territory. Arrangements should be made in advance because the Wana are wanderers and their territory is vast. They pack up and move when the village council decides the time is right based on agricultural crop cycles. Because of this,

Culture, Colour And A Global Gathering At Gawai Festival

I stood with my blowpipe at the ready. “Gather strength from your core and aim high,” Agus advised. “We are excited to have an Australian team enter the competition and best of luck to you”, he added with a broad smile. With all my might I blew from my stomach as instructed and hit the

Sacred Swings and Ancient Ways at Usaba Sambah Ceremony

Karangasem Regency in East Bali is an area of intense beauty dominated by Bali’s highest and most sacred volcano. Mt Agung’s 3,142-metre peak, and its dramatic foothills and valleys shaped by centuries of lava flows, combine to create a landscape unrivalled anywhere in Bali. The great mother temple of Besakih sits perched against this wondrous

Hidden Heritage: The Sweet Melodies of Rote

I slowly shuffled forward in the queue of passengers boarding the ferry at Kupang Harbour. I was about to cross the Timor Sea to Rote Island. Ahead of me, a long line of tall-coned straw-like cowboy hats snaked its way up the gangplank. Finally arriving at the comfortable VIP lounge on the upper deck, I

Reflecting on Indonesia’s Hidden Heritage 2017

Each month, NOW! Jakarta brings you tales of hidden heritage from our intrepid traveling duo Stephanie Brookes, writer, and David Metcalf, photographer. During 2017 they have brought stories back from Java, Sumatra, Sulawesi, Kalimantan, West Timor and Bali. From meetings with tribal kings to long jungle treks to encounters with shy nomadic forest people, here

Lombok’s Little Jockeys – Bareback and Barefoot

Every year at the Bau Nyale Festival in Kuta, Lombok, jockeys come together to compete in a horse racing event unique to Indonesia. Jockeys are always light, but these jockeys are different. They are children who start their training when they are four or five years old. They are ready to compete in the horse

Celebrating Indigenous Culture

The Indigenous Celebration staged at the Arma Museum in Ubud, Bali between 11-13 May highlighted the connection among the indigenous people of Indonesia, the Pacific and India. There were 34 tribes represented, including  Gayo Aceh, Antoni from West Timor, Dayak Punan, an Australian Aboriginal group, Dayak Kenyah, Marind from Papua and a New Zealand Maori

Travel to Belitung for Beaches, Boulders and Books

Belitung Island emerges gracefully from the Java Sea inviting exploration. It does not disappoint. It is unquestionably a place of extraordinary and untouched beauty. The beaches, with their chalky white sand, are some of the most exquisite in South East Asia. Granite boulders rise out of the sea like giant megaliths. Stephanie Brookes and David

Celebrating Indigenous Dance and Rituals at Gawai Festival

The crocodile appeared on the stage in the form of a human. The dancer writhed and slithered, accompanied by the deep tones of the didgeridoo. This opening dance at the 2018 Gawai Festival was received with loud cheers from the crowd. Dayak women dance at Gawai Festival. Photo by David Metcalf/NOW!JAKARTA The Gawai festival committee

Lembata, a Jewel in the Solor Archipelago

Sitting between Timor and Flores, Lembata is the largest island in the Solor Archipelago. Small villages dot the landscape, and tourism is still very low-key. Lembata is island in East Nusa Tenggara which offer low-key cultural tourism with its unique coastal community. Photo by Stephanie Brookes And Tonny Lebuan/NOW!JAKARTA The island has a rich tradition

The Dancing Masks of the Babukung

Pangkalan Bun in Central Kalimantan is a long way from anywhere. However, as soon as I heard about the Babukung Mask Festival held there every year, I went on the hunt to find out more. Babukung Traditional Mask Festival was held on 17 to 19 July 2018 at Hinang Golloa Stadium, Nanga Bulik, Lamandau Regency, Central

At Torajan Funerals, Grieving is Impolite

Journeying through Tana Toraja Regency in South Sulawesi, one comes across many extraordinary sights and experiences. The region offers stunning landscapes including lofty mountains, lush highlands and ancient terraced rice fields. Perhaps most interesting of all is its rich and complex culture. Some of the most unique cultural practices and beliefs in Tana Toraja are

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