You may or may not know:
- Indonesia comprises 17,508-18,306 islands! It’s the world’s largest archipelagic state.
- Of those numerous islands, 8,844 are named and 922 are inhabited with a population of over 261.1 million.
You probably know that tourists come to Indonesia for nature:
- To see jungles sheltering elephants, orangutans and tigers, to visit rich marine biodiversity, and postcard perfect islands. Komodo National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site, home of the infamous Komodo dragon, is one example of the beauty you’ll find in Indonesia.
- To enjoy nature on land and in the water;
- To see wildlife such as – the Komodo Dragons – the world’s largest lizard: 10 feet (3 meters), 300 pounds (136 kilos) with a venomous bite. They are facing extinction. Do not get close to them. They hunt in packs! One of the speakers at the 2017 Ubud Writers and Readers’ Festival described being confronted by a huge Komodo Dragon – while two others circled behind him!!! Yikes. A Komodo Park Ranger came to his rescue with a long pointed stick to poke between the Komodo’s eyes so they would run away. Enjoy looking for the animals, but do not wander off by yourself.
- To surf;
- To experience cultures richly different from our own;
- To see the beauty of nature;
- To experience vibrant cities such as Jakarta;
- Jakarta images from <https://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photos-jakarta-city-skyline-image9548188>
- To experience the city of Yogyakarta, known for gamelan music and traditional puppetry;
- To see smoking volcanoes. Indonesia has 76 volcanoes that have erupted in historical times; it has more active volcanoes than any other country. Some are among the world’s most famous volcanoes: Krakatau (Krakatoa), Tambora, and Merapi. Right now, Mt. Agung on Bali is threatening to erupt; thousands of Balinese have been evacuated since the end of September 2017.
You may not know that in Indonesia:
- On these thousands of volcanic islands live over 300 hundred ethnic groups (with over 300 native languages-including Batak, Minangkabau, Krui, and Pelalawan).
- The Javanese are 40% of the total population and are concentrated on the island of Java.
- The Indonesian archipelago was inhabited at least 1.5 million years ago: “Java Man” – his fossilized remains and tools were found here,
- Around 2000 BCE, Austronesian people arrived in Indonesia and are the ancestors of the modern population,
- From the late 13th century, the Hindu Majapahit kingdom flourished, its influence stretching over much of Indonesia.
- The 13th century in northern Sumatra have the earliest evidence of Islamic populations in Indonesia,
- 2017 is the 350th anniversary of the Dutch West Indies control of Indonesia. Part of that gaining control is because in 1602, the Dutch traded the island of Manhattan (New York city today!) for the small Banda Islands (the Spice Islands). The Dutch then had a monopoly on spices such as nutmeg, which financed the Dutch empire.
- However, because the Dutch were providing arms for the American Revolutionaries, the British blockaded the spice trade ships for two years causing the company to go bankrupt and the weakening of Dutch colonization.
- Until the Japanese invaded Indonesia in 1942, the Dutch controlled the islands.
- Recently, a Dutch man we met on vacation here in Bali said he was proud of the Dutch colonization for two reasons:
- 1) In 1859, the Dutch outlawed suttee, the Hindu practice of a widow (not widower) having to throw herself on top of the funeral pyre when her husband died (so they would be together in the next reincarnation);
- 2) The Dutch stopped women going topless – in this hot, humid climate.
- “Oh well,” says Barry, “governments can’t get it right all the time.” 🙂
- 3) The Dutch also outlawed slavery. But today, Indonesia ranks #39 out of 167 countries in the slavery index https://www.globalslaveryindex.org/country/indonesia/
Other Indonesian history, you may or may not, know:
- Japan invaded and held Indonesia from March 1942-1945. The Japanese trained young Indonesian soldiers – who after the war were able to gain freedom for their own country.
- Another not often recognized component of Indonesia history involves dock workers in Australia where the Dutch ships where harbored waiting to re-take Indonesia at the end of WWII. Using Gandhi’s concepts, these lowly paid workers understood that their Indonesian brothers and sisters would again be colonized if the dock workers helped the ships leave the Australian harbor. In a show of solidarity, over 4,000 Australian waterfront workers joined Indonesian crew members in a strike and refused to load Dutch ships carrying arms and supplies. http://www.abc.net.au/archives/80days/stories/2012/01/19/3414771.htm
- Indonesia declared independence on August 17, 1945, two days after the Japanese Emperor’s surrender in the Pacific. Soekarno (also spelled Sukarno) became president from 1945-1967. Sukarno established “Guided Democracy” an autocratic system in 1957 that successfully ended the instability and rebellions which were threatening the survival of the diverse and fractious country. The early 1960s, Sukarno veered Indonesia to the left by providing support and protection to the PKI (Indonesian Communist Party). As a result, the military and Islamists overthrew him; Sukarno remained under house arrest until his death. In 1967, Sukarno was replaced by Suharto, one of his generals.
- Sukarno image from: <https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c5/Soekarno.jpg
- In reaction to an attempted coup on 30 September 1965 – allegedly backed by the Indonesian Communist Party, Muhammad Suharto led an anti-communist purge, which the CIA has described as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
- Those mass murders of their own countrymen started in Jakarta, the capital, and spread to Central and East Java and later Bali. Thousands of local vigilantes and army units killed actual and alleged PKI – Communist party members. Recent estimates say as high as two to three million people were killed. The U.S. was complicit in the murders by providing extensive lists of communist party officials to Indonesian death squads. From: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indonesian_mass_killings_of_1965%E2%80%931966>.
- Suharto served as president for the following 31 years! Support for Suharto’s presidency was strong (for his anti-Communist stance) throughout the 1970s and 1980s, but by the 1990s, his authoritarianism and the widespread corruption of his government plus a severe financial crisis led to unrest, and he resigned in May 1998.
- Currently, Joko Widodo is the 7th president of Indonesia. In 2014, he was elected to a five-year term with 53% of the vote. He is the first Indonesian president not to have come from the political elite or to have been an army general. Jokowi’s domestic policy has focused on infrastructure development, cuts in fuel subsidies, and a tax amnesty program. Widodo emphasizes “protecting Indonesia’s sovereignty” by sinking illegal foreign fishing vessels and executing drug smugglers, despite foreign criticisms. Information from <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Presidents_of_Indonesia>
- Warnings to tourists:
- Do not bring drugs of any kind into Indonesia; do not arrange to have drugs of any kind brought in; do not take drugs in Indonesia — or you may spend 10 miserable years in an Indonesian jail and then be executed.
- Despite global pleas to spare the men, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, leaders of the “Bali Nine” – and six others: four Nigerians, a schizophrenic Brazilian, and an Indonesian – were executed on April 29, 2015, shortly after midnight by an Indonesian firing squad. See: https://reneeriley.wordpress.com/?s=Execution+
- Ironically, Indonesia has shown compassion for its citizens involved in the 2002 and 2005 Bali Bombings that left many seriously injured and 222 dead, including 92 Australians, 38 Indonesians, 27 Brits, 7 Americans, 6 Swedes and 3 Danes. All 36 Indonesian terrorists who were sentenced to anything less than life for their parts in the 2002 and 2005 bar and restaurant attacks are now free.
- Make sure you have an appropriate Indonesian Visa. The November 6-21, 2017 issue of The Bali Advertiser notes, “An Italian tourist, Carmine Sciaudone, has just been released from jail in Bali and has gone home after more than a year of incarceration. He had helped fix a projector on a locally operated party boat because it wasn’t working (no surprise there), and he knew how to fix it. That’s work, you see, if the authorities choose to decide that it is. And you can’t “work” on a tourist visa” (p. 27).
- “Indonesians say, ‘When you report a missing chicken to the police, you lose a goat.’ If you offer a bribe and don’t know if it will be accepted or if it is the correct amount needed, say it is a gift for their children. Be aware that the law favors Indonesians who overwhelmingly win legal battles against foreigners. Indonesia’s anti-graft body KPK reports that 40% of state regional budgets are lost as a result of corruption (Bali Advertiser, Nov. 6-21, 2017, p. 4).
- Indonesia’s constitution insures religious freedom. But in 2005 the wording was changed from “religious freedom” to “religious harmony.” Minorities are to respect the majority religion, and the majority religion is to protect minorities. An immediate result was that 1,056 churches in Indonesia were closed. People here I’ve heard say, “At least for now, we can still talk.”
- In a 2014 Christmas Day speech in Aceh, Indonesian Vice-President Jusuf Kalla claimed Indonesia is the most tolerant Muslim-majority in the world and long considered a relatively moderate Muslim state. The Indonesian Constitution provides for freedom of religion. However, in a 2012 cross-national Pew study on religious restrictions, Indonesia was actually one of five (out of 49 Muslim-majority countries to rank “very high” in government restrictions on religion and social hostilities involving religion. The other four countries were Afghanistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Yemen – hardly good company in this respect, according to The Diplomat <https://thediplomat.com/2014/12/is-indonesia-really-the-worlds-most-tolerant-muslim-country/
- Another very troubling indication of religious intolerance in Indonesia is that the popular “double-minority” (Chinese/Christian) first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta was found guilty on May 9, 2017 for blasphemy against the Quran under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code. The charges were filed after Ahok was accused of insulting Islam in remarks that were edited out of context and put on FB, which resulted in religious riots against him. Ahok’s verdict is a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.
Ahok was found guilty on May 9, 2017 and is now in jail serving a two-year term. His appeal has been stopped. The person who sent out the edited “news” is now being tried – but Ahok is still in jail. The verdict approved by the most conservative of the Islamists is based on their rules (not the laws of the nation) that 1) Non-Muslims are not allowed to interpret the Quaran and 2) Muslims are not to be led by non-Muslims. The two-year prison sentence was a surprise outcome after prosecutors had recommended two years of probation.
- Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, said the verdict was “a sad day for Indonesia”. . . “Ahok’s is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia. He is the governor of Indonesia’s largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?” (<https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/may/09/jakarta-governor-ahok-found-guilty-of-blasphemy-jailed-for-two-years>).
President Joko has banned Hizbut Tahrir, the sect behind the demonstrations against Ahok, as part of a broader effort to rein in the hard-line Islamist forces opposed to his administration before presidential elections in 2019. Because of the aggressive moves by Mr. Joko’s administration, many of the Islamist leaders who led the campaign against Ahok are in exile or prison. Hizbut Tahrir believes that all Muslims should unite in a world-wide caliphate – a global political order – in which all humankind will live under Muslim rule as either believers or subject communities. From: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/19/world/asia/indonesia-hard-line-islamist-ban.html
- The religious makeup of Indonesia according to the 2010 Indonesian census, includes:
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- 6.96% Protestant,
- 2.91% Catholic,
- 1.69% Hindu,
- 0.72% Buddhist,
- 0.05% Confucianism,
- 0.13% other, and
- 0.38% unstated or not asked.
- 87.18% Muslim (with Sunnis more than 99%, Shias 0.5%, Ahmadis 0.2%); these numbers make Indonesia the world’s biggest Muslim-majority nation at 12.7% of the World’s Muslim population.
- Another complication in this huge country is that millions of Javanese (mainly traditional Islamists) have migrated to other islands throughout the archipelago because of the Transmigration Program, an initiative started by the Dutch colonial government and continued by the Indonesian government until President Joko Widodo ended the practice in 2015. “The stated purpose of this program was to reduce the considerable poverty and overpopulation on Java (and some other islands), to provide opportunities for hard-working poor people, and to provide a workforce to access the natural resource of other islands such as Papua, Kalimantan, Sumatra, and Sulawesi. The program has resulted in separatist movements and increased communal violence.
- According to Philip M. Fearnside from the Department of Ecology National Institute for Research in the Amazon (INPA), “The Transmigration Program has been labeled as ‘’the World Bank’s most irresponsible project’ by Survival International (1985); multilateral bank financing of this program has long been a focus of criticism because of its impact on deforestation and human rights. In 1986, transmigration was singled out by a consortium of 14 environmental groups as one of the ‘‘Fatal Five’’—the five projects chosen as illustrations of inadequate environmental safe guards in World Bank lending procedures, the others being the Polonoroeste Project in Brazil, the Three Gorges Dam in China, the Narmada Dams in India, and the Livestock III project in Botswana (TFAGC 1986, Schwartzman 1986).
As for us, Barry and I are here in Ubud, Bali, where many tourists visit – at least those who are not on the Bali beaches of Kuta or Sanur or climbing Mt. Batur. In the past 17 years, we’ve stayed in Ubud five times.
We love the Balinese friendliness, their rich Balinese/Hindu culture that believes in karma and recognizes spirits everywhere, and the beautiful art that almost all Balinese practice, be it dance, music, painting, or carving. Until the 1930s, Bali could be considered the richest country in the world since there was little difference between the richest and poorest families. All could work about four months a year to sustain themselves. The rest of the time they devoted to their arts, their temple, their family.
Then the Balinese started importing tin roofs to replace the thatched roofs that they made together with their neighbors – and lasted about 15 years. Next, they started importing cars and had to go to a money system. Today, many Balinese hire Javanese migrants to work in the rice fields while the Balinese work in the tourist industry as drivers, or restaurant or hotel workers. They still have a rich family and religious and community life. We love the warm weather, the vibrant vegetation, the art that is every where, the friendly people, and the economical prices too.
This visit in Ubud from the end of September to the end of October, 2017, we could enjoy the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival: http://www.ubudwritersfestival.com/2017-program/;
The Bali Vegan Festival: http://www.baliveganfestival.com/
The Bali Film Festival: http://www.balinale.com/
Ubud has yoga of all kinds, great restaurants, and music every night.
April brings the Bali Spirit Festival – yoga, dance, & music <http://www.balispiritfestival.com/
But there is much more to the complex country of Indonesia than this tiny little part that we love.
Come visit Indonesia. There is much to discover.
Aloha & sampai jumpa, Renée
It hasn’t happened again yet. In 1963, however, the last time Mount Agung (Gunung Agung) erupted, approximately 1,500 people were killed and numerous villages destroyed.
Back then, after about a month of rumbling and smoking and then an eruption that traveled 7 km over 20 days, the biggest eruption happened. The March 17, 1963 eruption sent debris 8 to10 km into the air and caused massive pyroclastic flows (a fluid mass of turbulent gas and rock fragments), which “can travel at up to 290 mph (466 Km/h), “so no – you can’t outrun something like this,” says Kim Patra in “Paradise . . . in sickness & in health, (Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017, p. 31). Resulting “lahars” – massive mud flows killed about 200 more people. The 1963-1964 eruptions and flows lasted almost a year.
Now – since September 19, 2017, Mt. Agung has been rumbling and registering 4 for most of that time – meaning immediate eruption. An estimated 125,000 people in a radius of 12 miles (20 km) from the base of the volcano have been evacuated.
The area experienced 844 volcanic earthquakes on September 25, and 300 to 400 earthquakes by midday on September 26. Seismologists have been alarmed at the force and frequency of the incidents as it has taken much less for similar volcanoes to erupt.
In late October 2017, the activity of the volcano decreased significantly, leading to lowering of the highest status of emergency.”
But Mt. Agung is very unpredictable.
Rio Helmi, photographer and humanitarian who has been covering the evacuation, reports, “Mt Agung is what’s called a “closed system”; it doesn’t display its activity very clearly on the outside and is unpredictable. This last is further complicated by the fact that this is the first time it has gone active since it has been observed with instrumentation. Consequently the PVMBG [Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Beologi; English: Centre of Vulcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation] are being cautious about making any ‘predictions.’” Mt. St. Helen was a “closed system” that too was unpredictable. When it erupted, it blew out the side of the mountain.
Another reason the volcanologists are being cautious, says Helmi, is that Mt Agung has a very violent history. To put this into perspective, it is one of 58 volcanoes worldwide that has hit VEI 5 (Volcanic Explositivity Index). It is one of only 7 volcanoes worldwide that has hit VEI 5 consecutively, and fairly consistently, over the centuries. In the past, over the centuries, it has done a huge amount of damage.”
With a population of 4,225,000 and a land mass of 5,780 km, Bali is one of the main Indonesian islands, the best known for tourism. (In contrast, the Big Island of Hawaii has a land mass of 10,432 km and a population of 187,000 people). The eruption of Mt. Agung, the highest point on Bali, will have a huge impact on the many people who live in the East close to the volcano.
Today, like many other tourists, Barry and I are in Ubud and so safe. Barry arrived in Ubud on September 21, right as the evacuation notices started for those who live near Mt. Agung. Because of international news coverage, friends contacted me at home to see if Barry was okay. He didn’t really know about the problem of the volcano. Even now in Ubud, we have a hard time finding out what is happening on Mt. Agung. In Ubud, we see posters of where to donate money or supplies like tarps to the evacuees, but this crisis doesn’t impact tourists – who can just leave. And it isn’t one event. Already Balinese have been out of their homes and away from their fields for over a month.
For those Balinese in the shadow of Mt. Agung, their lives are even more precarious than before.
Getting help to them will be an on-going challenge. The Indonesian government has set up evacuation camps, and people and groups have donated supplies.
But based on the local help that was already on-going for the Balinese subsistence farmers who now have even more challenges, I recommend sending support to two groups in particular that will know how best to help the Mt. Agung refugees:
- Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the Bali Spirit group and Bali Regreen, https://www.facebook.com/BaliSpirit/ and
- Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset – FB contact <https://www.facebook.com/groups/129279773753349/> & http://rotarybaliubudsunset.org/
A Rotary News article, “Water Water Everywhere, not a Drop to Drink!” by Renee Heaton, tells about the Ubud Rotary Club’s on-going work:
“[M]any people live in areas forgotten by governments and politicians because they are too hard to access. No roads or infrastructure is built for them in any shape or form. Where are these places? They are the mountain areas which cover a vast area of Bali, and where tourist rarely go because for them there is “nothing to do there”!
“The east coast of Bali in the Amed area, in the regency of Karangasem, many many people live high up in the mountains! [in the current danger zone of Mt. Agung]. . . . The area is very dry as it is in the rain shadow of the great Gunung Agung, the Great Mountain. The people who live there have virtually no access to schools, health clinics, doctors, or water!! They live in small huts usually 2 huts to a family with no washing facilities, no toilets, and no running water and some do not have electricity. They depend on their water from springs, high up in the hills, or wells near the coastal roads. So how do they get it? By walking hours each way to get 1 bucket of water and carry it back on their heads, women’s work! But the water is only for drinking and cooking. They do try and catch it during the rainy season but if it comes off their roofs can you imagine what else is collected!! So what happens when we do not get enough clean water to drink? You get sick, children get diarrhea from infected water, kidney disease, and skin diseases. No water=no sanitation, no toilets, no hands washed, practically no bathing!
Why do they not move? No money and no education, plus it is where their ancestors were born and died. Most are subsistence farmers; it is too dry to grow rice, only corn will grow and then only one crop a year; sometimes they plant pumpkin or cassava, but for all their other needs they have to barter! They live on corn in one form or another, animals are are rarity, not often seen.
So what can we do??? (Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017). Heaton continues her article by sharing what the Rotary Club of Bali has been doing with the Bali Water Project:
Funding from Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset, other Rotary clubs in Bali, Colorado, Kansas, India, and The Rotary foundation has focused on the Bali water project.
Heaton reports, “Between 2007 and 2009, 6 water projects were completed helping more than 3,000 people, some of the very poorest of families living far, far from roads or water. . . . Projects 7-15 followed. . . 2017 saw Rotary Club Bali Ubud Sunset complete a further project at Sombawong. . . . These projects have given so many people a much easier life; no more carry water for hours on end daily; given them pride in looking after the systems once hand over takes place; a sense of worth and of being NOT FORGOTTEN! If you can help, consider donating to Rotary Club Bali Ubud, which has a record of making great use of donations.
The other group I recommend that has been helping the Mt. Agung farmers even before Mt. Agung started threatening eruption is the Bali Spirit group/Bali Regreen:
A report from “Ubud News” by Wayan Jen tells about “Mt. Agung’s Farmers”:
“Pak Made (Kadek) Gunata, co-founder of the Bali Spirit group, is working to ensure that the farmers have livelihoods to return to [after the threat of eruption is over]. In 2011, he helped found Bali Regreen on the not so rich soil side of Mt. Agung, to grow bamboo that will create an income for very poor locals and help replenish the soil.
Since the start of the evacuations, Pak Made and the Bali Regreen team have worked tirelessly to move the animals from those villages off Mt. Agung. This is vital work. Many farmers have been persuaded by profiteers to sell their cows worth up to 15 million rupiah for two million (that’s $1,500 versus $200), because they don’t have any money for basic supplies that they need for the evacuation camps. But others have left their animals behind, or have no place to put them.
Pak Made’s team is fostering livestock on two hectares of land that’s been made available for use during the evacuation, but he says there are more than 800 cows, pigs and goats still in the danger area,”and I know there are more from other banjars [village groups] that need to be removed.’
While there seems to be enough land to keep the animals at the moment, they need funds for fodder and animal care. By sheltering these cows, they are saving the future livelihood of these villagers, giving them the capacity to rebuild their lives when the immediate disaster is past. PM Made Gunata [Bali Spirit] directly on Facebook re donations.”
As of Oct. 30th the danger was downgraded from 4 to 3, but that certainly doesn’t mean that Mt. Agung is stable.
The Ubud Rotary Club and Bali Regreen for Balinese farmers are two excellent ways your contribution will be put to its best use.
For first-hand updates on what is happening on Mt. Agung, see Indonesian humanitarian and photographer Rio Helmi’s “News from Under the Volcano” on www.ubudnowandthen.com
Ibu Kat, Bali author and columnist, writes, “For most people reading this [in Bali], the eruption will be inconvenient. For the tens of thousands of families whose only home and assets are on that mountain, it will be devastating.
If Gunung Agung does blow, and it seems likely, the government and NGOs will be finding ways to help them survive and move forward over the next year or so. We can all be part of this process” (from “Greenspeak” Bali Advertiser, Oct. 2017, p. 29).
Please help. Aloha and sampai jumpa, Renée
Banner image: <http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41382990>.
“All systems of oppression need to be challenged,” said a speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud, Bali last month. Doing just that since 1977, Sea Shepherd, a non-governmental, non-profit environmental organization, has been using direct action tactics [along with lots of media attention] to protect marine life [and to educate consumers].
If you want to volunteer on a Sea Shepherd crew, you will be asked that question, “Are you willing to die for a whale?” The boats carry no guns but use film and public education to achieve incredible change. Their important work continues.
Sea Shepherd claims responsibility for damaging or sinking multiple whaling ships, through sabotage or ramming. The group has attempted to intervene against Russian, Spanish, Norwegian, Icelandic, Makah, Faroese, and Japanese whalers in multiple campaigns around the globe. Those actions have included scuttling and disabling commercial whaling vessels at harbor, using limpet mines (a type of naval mine attached to a target by magnets) to blow holes in ship hulls, ramming other vessels, throwing glass bottles of butyric acid (stinky rancid butter) on the decks of vessels at sea, boarding of whaling vessels while at sea, and seizing and destroying drift nets at sea. Sea Shepherd Captain Paul Watson has said that the organization has destroyed millions of dollars worth of equipment. The Sea Shepherd media extravaganzas have highlighted whaling, long-line fishing nets, and shark fining to get people everywhere informed and conscious of the destruction of life in our oceans.
Some shark populations have decreased by 60-70% due to shark fisheries.
Gary Stokes, Asia Director for Sea Shepherd, has spent the past 10 years on documenting, investigating, and exposing the shark fin trade. He was a guest speaker at the Bali Vegan Festival in Ubud last month. Indonesia is the #1 exporter of shark fins; Spain #2.
There is much economic pressure to ignore the international bans on shark finning.
Fishermen often choose to keep just the shark fins—only one to five percent of a shark’s weight—and throw the rest of the shark away rather than have the less valuable parts take up space on the boat. The finned sharks are often thrown back alive into the ocean, where unable to swim properly and bleeding profusely, they suffocate or die of blood loss. Shark meat sold to restaurants and markets is often used in seafood curries and stews.
Gary says that now 60% of the fish and seafood in our oceans are in terrible condition. Global fishing fleets are now at 2.5 times the sustainable level. Just one poaching boat, the “Lafayette” which works the waters off Chili and Peru around the Faroe Islands processes 1,500 tons of fish a day!! Much of that is Chilean tooth fish; in restaurants, it’s called “Chilean Sea Bass.” 😦 Much of caught sea food goes to animal feed.
A result of Sea Shepherd and other activists groups like Greenpeace and loud voices, many people now know to make conscious choices.
According to a National Geographic article, we now know to “look for the blue eco-label of the Marine Stewardship Council, or ask where in the world the fish comes from. . .[to] help you find the best and avoid the rest”
Stokes reports that forty percent of the tuna that comes into the U.S. is from illegal, unreported fisheries in Thailand. And forty percent of all fish caught is used for animal feed. 😦 If the world continues to consume and destroy marine life at the current rates, Stokes says that by 1948 there will be no fish!
Recently, Sea Shepherd Asia had a hiatus, a year off, when Japan temporarily halted whale hunting. Gary and his team got to go after other notorious pirate fishing vessels. For 110 days, a Sea Shepherd ship chased the “Thunder” – #1 on the Interpol list of pirate fishing vessels. Finally, the captain of the “Thunder” sunk his own ship rather than be caught with the incriminating evidence of illegal fishing!! But while part of the Sea Shepherd crew was saving the “Thunder” crew, other Sea Shepherd volunteers entered the sinking ship in time to collect computers and other evidence that has the captain and crew serving time in a Nigerian jail. [It would seem the owners of the pirate ships should be in jail too]. The photo above shows what has happened to other illegal fishing boats that Sea Shepherd has targeted.
Gary says of the ocean marine life, “We are losing everything.” We must all learn and act.
So why was Gary invited to speak at the Vegan Fest? The people who volunteer for the Sea Shepherd crews are ardent animal activists. Many are vegans. Since 2002, all Sea Shepherd vessels serve only vegan meals. It would be hypocritical, says Gary, to eat meat while chasing people who are killing marine life. Gary has been a vegetarian since 1980. When he first started going out on Sea Shepherd missions, Gary was more worried about what he would get to eat than about the possible confrontations the crew would meet. But, he has learned that the vegan meals are delicious, healthy, and accommodate everyone on board, and all religions.
The Sea Shepherd logo – a pirate to protect marine life:
Watch the following documentaries; you will likely cry, cheer, and laugh.
Paul Watson: The Whale Warrior: A Pirate for the Sea
Confessions of an Eco-Terrorist – a full documentary film
Seafood Watch has a free app for iPhone and Android that’s updated as recommendations change.
Please be ocean-friendly when you shop for seafood. Even better, eat vegetarian/vegan. Think about it. And tell your friends. Do what you can do.
Remember that ardent animal rights Sea Shepherd crews don’t have guns. Gary Stokes says that even one pissed off vegan is a force to be reckoned with.
Full steam ahead, Sea Shepherd. We need you now more than ever.
Filtered sunlight makes its way through the tall canopy, the stone statues of snakes and monkeys, the ornate temples, and the calls of monkeys create an eerie, spirit-filled setting. Visitors follow trails; a deep ravine runs through the park grounds, at the bottom flows a rocky stream. The heavily forested and hilly Ubud Monkey Forest covers about 27 acres (10 hectares) containing at least 115 different species of trees and over 600 crab-eating macaques (Balinese long-tailed macaques).
The monkeys roam freely – doing all their monkey business – in the Monkey Forest Sanctuary, Ubud. Although these macaques are called “crab-eating,” they often eat fruits and many other things; they are native to Southeast Asia and often used in research. Since they are most active during the day, visitors can observe their activities – caring for their young, mating, fighting, and grooming – at close range.
Five groups of monkeys inhabit the park, each occupying different territories. In recent years here, the monkey population has become larger than a natural environment could support, so conflicts between the groups are unavoidable, but it also means that visitors can see more monkeys here than in the wild.
Know that the monkeys are interested in any food you have. So, don’t be casually walking along enjoying your fresh young coconut. You are likely – actually guaranteed – to be jumped. Likewise, monkeys can smell food in your backpack; don’t count on just hiding your food.
The Monkey Forest park staff feed the monkeys sweet potatoes and other vegetables three times a day, providing them with their main source of food in the park, and so, the monkeys here are usually not as super naughty as in some other places.
In general, monkeys will not come up to you if you do not bring bananas or any other food. But they are smart and curious, and they may think you have food in that bag you are carrying, and they know how to take a lid off a bottle in search of whatever delightful drink they think you might have there. We saw a female trying valiantly to crack open a coconut by hitting it repeatedly with the side of her hand. She used a folded leaf to cushion the blow to her hand.
Once as I was walking along Monkey Forest Road and not even in the sanctuary, a monkey, a BIG monkey, climbed up my leg to check out the bottle I was carrying. When he saw it was only a plastic bottle of water, he climbed back down. Luckily – and surprisingly to me, I didn’t freak out. I was very happy I was wearing pants.
Monkey Forest Sanctuary site recommendations include:
- Leave any non-essential bags and bottles at the ticket counter.
- Do not bring in food or drinks to the park.
- Do not feed the monkeys peanuts, biscuits, bread, or any other human snacks because they are detrimental to monkey health. Some of the monkeys are now obese 😦 from such feeding. You may give the monkeys bananas that can be purchased at the entrance, but use care in giving the bananas.
- pull at a monkey or
- move suddenly.
- Do hang on to, or better yet, hide –
- or whatever might be taken. Don’t have anything shiny, money sticking out of your pocket, or your computer available in your open bag.
- If you do feed the monkeys, always look out for the claws and teeth of the dominant male. He should be given food first to avoid fighting or you getting bitten.
- Don’t get close to the babies. Especially don’t get between a mom and her baby.
- When you smile, don’t show your teeth. In monkey understanding, this is considered an aggressive gesture. Monkey grimaces are indicators of inferiority while panting and open-mouthed threats are indicators of dominance.
- If you have a child with you, be particularly careful.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary staff in the green uniforms are throughout the park in case you need assistance.
Even if you are careful, it is possible to get scratched or bitten. The monkeys are wild animals, and they are not afraid of humans. I haven’t heard of monkeys having rabies here, but some dogs do. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the sanctuary, I’ve seen a monkey and a young, rambunctious dog near the park entrance scraping over a bit of food. So don’t take chances. A puncture wound or even a scratch in a humid, hot climate such as Bali’s can quickly become infected. Seek immediate medical attention even if your wound seems minor.
Even with all these cautions, I recommend that you go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary. Except for that one curious, climbing-up-my-leg monkey, I haven’t had any others bother me. They are fun to watch. And it’s fun to watch tourists interact with the monkeys too.
The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary is not only a tourist attraction with about 10,000 visitors a month but also an important site in the spiritual life of the local community. The Monkey Forest grounds are home to three Hindu temples, all apparently constructed around 1350!
The Main Temple is used for worshiping a personification of Shiva, the transformer. The Pura Beji Temple is a “Holy Spring” bathing temple, a place of spiritual and physical cleansing and purification prior to religious ceremonies.
The Prajapati Temple is used to pray for procreation and the protection of life. A cemetery adjacent to this temple receives the bodies of the deceased for temporary burial while they await a mass cremation ceremony (because of the extremely high costs), held approximately every five years.
The temples play an important role in the spiritual life of the local community, and the monkey and its mythology are important in the Balinese art tradition. The Monkey Forest area is sanctified by the local community, and some sacred areas of the temples are closed to everyone except those willing to pray and to wear proper Balinese praying attire.
On-going research and conservation programs also happen here with researchers from around the world focusing particularly on the monkey social interaction and behavior with their surrounding environment.
So go to the Monkey Forest Sanctuary for the monkeys, the trees, the temples. Especially if you are aware, you will have fun.
Selamat jalan, Renée
“The Holy Monkey Forest of Sangeh” by Bill Dalton, Bali Advertiser, 26 Sept. – 12 Oct. 2016, p 26.
Text and photos from: http://monkeyforestubud.com/
“WE ARE FOR SALE. Please call my brother Wayan.”
Sign on Jalan Tirta Tawar – on the way to Om Ham Retreat, Bali.
Selamat jalan, Renée
Modern life – everywhere.
Just a reminder – to all of us – to pay attention to those we are with.
Snakeskin fruit or salak is new to me. “A native fruit from Indonesia and Malaysia, the snakeskin fruit grow in clusters at the base of the palm. The taste is usually sweet and acidic, like a cross between a crunchy sweet apple and a pineapple, but its texture can vary from very dry and crumbly to moist and crunchy. . .[Here in Bali, the ones I’ve had are moist and crunchy – and delicious.] This palm grows to 10 feet tall, is very thorny, and produces fruits in large clusters. Plants are self pollinating. Likes filtered sunlight.”
Snakeskin fruit are refreshing and very popular in SE Asia.
Image and information from: <https://www.pinterest.com/pin/391953973799636953/>.
They are delicious on their own, but adding them to a salad gives an added good flavor and crunch.
Raw Vegan Energy Salad:
3 whole Salak [Snakeskin fruit] -Peel, pitted and cut into strips
1 Avocado – Cut into cube
1 tbsp Goji Berries
1 tbsp Pumpkin Seeds
1/2 cup Pineapple cube
3 pcs Medjool Dates – Pitted, cut into strips
3 leaves Iceberg Lettuce [or your favorite lettuce] – Torn
1/2 pcs Lemon-Squeezed for juice
1/4 tsp Paprika
1/2 tsp Olive Oil
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
pinch of Natural Sea Salt
Dash Black Pepper
Prepare all the ingredients in salad bowl,
Just before serving. Pour dressing over salad and lightly toss.
There you go! The super tasty Raw Delightful Salak Salad !
Look for snakeskin fruit. I think you will love it too.
Salamat Makan, (Enjoy your meal), Renée
“The more I handled things
and learned their names and uses
the more joyous and confident
grew my sense of kinship with the rest of the world”
– Helen Keller
Endless Benefits, Endless Uses – Coconut trees have been used for thousands of years for building materials, food, oil, milk, water, medicine, a high energy fuel source, and more. (In the 2010 movie Cast Away, Tom Hanks survived on coconuts – so we know how important they can be).
Virgin or cold pressed (non-refined, non-bleached and non-deodorized) coconut oil is often described as a super oil, the “healthiest oil on earth,” and thanks to its important health benefits, it has been declared the new power food. Extensive research confirms that those who use coconut oil are healthier, have less heart disease, cancer, and colon problems than unsaturated fat eaters.
In a Bali Advertiser feature article, Ines Wynn, notes,
“The Health Benefits of cold pressed Virgin Coconut Oil are numerous; its major properties include:
- Nutrient rich: It is nature’s richest source of lauric acid, which protects your heart by reducing total cholesterol and increasing good cholesterol. It has a small amount of vitamins and minerals like choline, iron, and, important for cardiovascular health, vitamin E and vitamin K.
- Thyroid-stimulating: Coconut oil contains medium-chain fatty acids (triglycerides) that stimulate metabolism and give you more energy.
- Diabetes inhibitor: Helps keep diabetes in check. It does not produce an insulin spike in your bloodstream. Instead it helps control blood sugar by improving the secretion of insulin.
- Immune system supporter: The rich lauric acid supports the body’s immune system.
- Candida inhibitor: Coconut oil has a good quantity of caprylic acid in it which is well known to kill off excess candida by targeting harmful bacteria.
- Weight loss aid: Even though it is a fat, it actually helps with weight loss. The medium chain fatty acids do not circulate in the bloodstream like other fats; they are sent directly to the brain
- Brain nourishment: Studies show that it improves cognitive function, and stalls, or even reverses, neurodegenerative diseases in their early stages.
- Skin protection: When applied externally, it forms a protective antibacterial layer shielding the infected body part. Also, coconut oil speeds up the healing process of bruises by helping to repair damaged tissue.
Although refined vegetable oils are now known to have low heat tolerances and release toxins called aldehydes when heated to high temperature, Virgin Coconut Oil is heat resistant and due to its high levels of anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties does not go rancid even after one year at room temperature. Virgin Coconut Oil has no detrimental side effects and unlike other vegetable oils, it does not form harmful by-products.
Worldwide, eleven million farmers in 90 countries grow coconut. Over 80% are situated in Asia-Pacific, with Indonesia and the Philippines being the largest producers. Virtually all these farmers are poor and receive little benefit for their toil. Consequently they are not investing in replanting, and coconut plantations have declined as a result. Possibly as much as 30% of the Indonesian coconut plantation area is considered as senile, meaning very low productivity.
Generally, consumers are unaware that Virgin Coconut Oil may be produced in various ways. Most virgin coconut oil in Indonesia is derived from coconut milk, generally as a by-product of the large desiccated coconut industry [copra]. In the same way, many consumers are unaware that most coconut water packed in Tetra Pak is made from mature coconut water derived from other bulk processing coconut industries.
Image from: <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tetra_Pak>.
However, virgin coconut oil is suitable for human consumption in its natural state immediately after extraction and filtration requiring no return to the original copra trade model of production” (27).
A good link for information about the difference between copra production of coconut oil (the most common and cheapest available coconut oil) and that of virgin coconut oil, go to http://www.naturepacific.com/page/36/learn-about-coconuts-%7C-virgin-coconut-oil-versus-coconut-(copra)-oil
In part, that article says, a villager “first gathers coconuts that have fallen on the ground, cuts the nut in half and removes the white coconut meat. The coconut meat is then usually dried on a rack over a fire (they call them copra smokers) which helps to dry out the coconut meat and it turns a grey colour and has a rancid smell. The biggest and most abundant amount of wild coconuts are found in remote villages scattered across the Pacific and Asia. Sometime it can take up to 3-4 months before the villagers can get their bags of smoked copra to the big copra mills in town. The mills are usually situated 100’s of miles away from these villagers. The copra mills resemble a smaller version of a sugar crushing mill and processing of the copra is similar to that found in the sugar mills. The copra is pressed and because the coconut is very smoky or rancid they use chemicals to bleach and clean the oil. This happens in all the basic edible food oils today in the market place. This is also the reason why this style of COCONUT OIL (Copra) processing became known in the old days as poor man’s oil or dirty oil.”
The writer also warns, “Today because of the high demand for Virgin Coconut Oil many unscrupulous manufacturers [or companies that are more focused on making their shareholders happy] are getting cheap copra oils and running them through centrifuge spinning machines to clean up the oils and also state they are ORGANIC. While the centrifuges remove the smell and all flavour from the oils the Copra COCONUT OIL is a much thicker oil that will NOT quickly absorb into the skin and does contain TRANS FAT. Except for a higher level of lauric acid it is very similar to all other trans fat food oils on the market due to the processing. If you put this type of oil on your skin it is just that OIL and will clog the pores of your skin.”
This is again another example that we should know our farmers and how our food is produced and processed.
However, today “in Bali and other parts of Indonesia, Kokonut Pacific, an internationally focused organization, is actively involved in establishing virgin coconut oil and down-stream value added opportunities [coconut water, coconut skim milk, and coconut flour. . .] for small scale coconut farmers, using an entirely different approach to making Virgin Coconut Oil. By taking the processing right back to the farm level, it enables rural families to produce pure virgin oil within one hour of opening their coconuts. These coconuts are grown and processed locally and organically, without the use of fertilizers or other chemical inputs. . . .
Dr. Dan Etherington – a pioneer of VCO – from Kokonut Pacific Australia, invented DMR (Direct Micro Expelling) technology, a process that produces pure, natural, virgin, cold-pressed coconut oil from fresh coconuts. Currently, this technology is being used in Bali, Java, and Sulawesi where Kokonut Pacific works collaboratively with over 600 certified organic farms in projects designed to be models of sustainable healthy living for the individual and for the planet.
VCO is available in many retail outlets. But be a discerning customer. Not all oils labeled Virgin Coconut Oil are that. Many are mixed with other vegetable oils and the labels do not always indicate that. buy from a reputable palace and avoid the cheap varieties.
If you want to combine being good to your body with being good to your soul, look for SoleOil, an organic VCO marketed by Yayasan Solemen, one of the most visible NGS in Bali.
SoleOil’s story is rather special. Together with the Tree of Life Project Bali it aims to support the small-scale farmer project in Tabanan while receiving Rp 10k per bottle for Solemen’s many projects. The SoleOil project is not only a way to support small-scale farmers, it also is a means to empower rural women whose access to a sustainable business is restricted by their location.
From a food crop to a health crop, coconut is now becoming a sunrise industry. It is best positioned to become the world’s healthiest sustainable plant-based edible oil. At a time when concerns of agricultural productivity and global nutrition form a central part of policy development for all countries, the coconut palm offers an opportunity for a viable alternative to unsustainable, harmful mono-culture agricultural systems. . .
When properly handled, coconut culture means zero disruption to biomass or peat soils. No clearing of rain forest. No displacement of local populations. Coconut palms are a valuable, existing, in ground plant-based resource of healthy nutrition and numerous downstream products.
To read more about Virgin Coconut Oil and the DME production process, go to www.kokonutpacific.com.au
Text from: Wynn, Ines. “The Tree of Life Project in Bali.” Bali Advertiser, 12 – 26 October, 2016, p. 27.
Be healthy. Have coconuts in your life.
Photos from: SoleOil, NaturePacific, & Kokonut Pacific.