Olin’s Jakarta Adventures

The most common question I get asked all the time: “Where are you from?” or “What’s your ethnicity?” Believe it or not, I have gotten everything and anything, including Brazilian, Native America, Alaskan, Icelandic, Hawaiian including the most common Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Filipino. My look might be obscure, but my heart beats strong for my home land: Indonesia. I was born and grew up in Jakarta, Indonesia. I have family all over the islands: Java, Sumatra and even Bali. My Indonesian roots are specifically Javanese and Sundanese. I still speak a mean dialect, I grew up doing traditional dance, my grandmother was and is a bomb ass cook and I ran through fields, flied kites, ate street food and played soccer and badminton growing up. My favorite food is still Indonesian food, I actually love Durian, my favorite fruit is Mangosteen and Jackfruit and I would die for curry, satay and noodles.

A couple months ago, I ventured home to Jakarta for two weeks after a 7 year hiatus. I’m already planning my next trip home as we speak, Bali anyone? I snapped a quick few photos, I was more eager to experience my home town than just document it, but I wanted to share a collection of photos, mostly on my iPhone!
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Growing up in a Muslim country, I remember waking up to prayer calls in the morning and running home when the mosque speakers rang out in the evening. My mother’s family include some devout Muslims, my grandfather prays 5 times a day to this day. indonesia-photos-4

Satay, quite possibly the dish that makes me regret being a Pescetarian the most. But I still happily ate peanut sauce and rice cakes! I love the way traditionally grilled satay tastes, that smokiness cannot be topped in any modern restaurant!indonesia-photos-7

Both my mother and grandmother were skilled and avid bakers. In fact, my mother owned a culinary school! The top left desserts: Klepon – glutinous rice balls covered in coconut flakes with palm sugar inside. The very first thing I learned to make when I was 5. I can eat Indonesian desserts all day! The best part about Indonesian desserts: no food coloring and everything is organic! Gosh, I am getting hungry again!indonesia-photos-6

Street food yumminess!! I wasn’t in Jakarta for longer than 3 hours before I said: “Dad, I need fried tempeh and tapioca!!” My father laughed and said there is no way to take the village out of this girl…indonesia-photos-5

The land of tropical fruits, can you spot the dragonfruit and lychee? Yum! My parents have a fridge just for fruits, that’s how much fruits are part of our diet!indonesia-photos-8

More street food: grilled sandwich! My brother and I camped by this food cart until we had our fill! Good times!

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One thing that surprised me after being gone for so long is the number of motorcycles on the road. I told my brother that they were like anchovies, covering the roads. And the best part of parking in Jakarta malls: closer parking for women drivers. What What!indonesia-photos-27

I cruised by the nearby bird market and saw this little boy having his morning bath and could not resist a photo. Ah Indonesia!indonesia-photos-11 indonesia-photos-26 indonesia-photos-14

I love traditional Indonesian artwork and crafts, no one can beat our traditional woodwork! And check out the amazing stone work as well!indonesia-photos-9 indonesia-photos-10 indonesia-photos-24

Flea market shopping with my brother, I need a container to cart all the things I want back to the U.S. Is that possible?

My parent’s house is also filled with traditional artwork, from the mythical Garuda to the revered Ganesh. I grew up surrounded by such beauty!indonesia-photos-13

Traditional Indonesian weddings are so much fun and colorful! I hope that I will get to go home one day to photograph an Indonesian wedding!indonesia-photos-22 indonesia-photos-25

My parent’s lush tropical backyard. The monsoon rains came down on us every day when I was home. I miss the sound of such heavy rain and thunder so much, I took videos of it! Yes, I’m that dork!indonesia-photos-21 indonesia-photos-16 indonesia-photos-20

Traditional Indonesian architecture is so varied and fun isn’t it? indonesia-photos-23 indonesia-photos-18 indonesia-photos-12

My bad ass grandfather: world war 2 vet! He walked across the island of Java barefoot for 2 months through the jungles and in the dark of the night! He told me war stories daily, without him and his troop, Indonesian independence from the Dutch would have been impossible. He lived with his troop in the rainforest for 3 years to fight for independence. War hero and still a bad ass!indonesia-photos-119

My niece and nephew, I taught them how to do the dougie and dance Gangnam Style. I’m such a good influence right?


Goodbye Jakarta, until next time beautiful homeland!! I will always miss your lush green lands.


comments +


  1. evelyn

    May 5th, 2013 at 2:27 pm

    wow Olin, I have been following your blog for a very long time, but I would never have guessed you were Indonesian! Beautiful photos by the way. I was just back from Bali myself and I loved it!

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