Dangdut, Dangdut, Dangdut.

“Yo! Goyang Goyang”

Its culture is one that higher-middle class Indonesians cringe about, but it is very much a quintessential element in Indonesian culture. If you were to visit Jakarta , the array of nightlife is vast – The selection of nightclubs and bars span from the swanky to the downright dodgy.

So you’ve consulted your Lonely Planet guide book, and it refers you to a ‘popular’ nightspot that offers cheap drinks and popular western music. What you find when entering the club, is a room packed with hookers and seedy looking South East Asian men, rocking out to some sort of music that sounds like Euro trash techno grilled up with hardcore amphetamines.

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The Blackberry Pandemic

This is you.

If you know what that image above represents then you own a Blackberry, if you don’t then close your eyes and fucking run!

I have come to common instances in social situations where I have been left out by my peers due to this ‘smartphone’ by Research in Motion. This is because I own an iPhone, which I will continuously argue is the superior product. However, because of the massive consumer market of Blackberry users in South East Asia, they will beat me up, and debate furiously against my claims – Its always going to be a losing battle.

Its not new to observe a moment of silence when your out with your friends, there will be a time when sitting at a cafe, mamak stall, or restaurant, where everyone will be busting away at their keypads texting their other friends. Today, this social phenomena is understood as “BEE BEEING” one another.

“BEE BEE” or “BE BE” is a universal phrase understood by different cultures and languages. To “BEE BEE” is to participate in the Blackberry’s chat room, where you are able to to chat in real time with your contacts through Blackberry’s servers for ‘free’. Intimately shortened as ‘BB’ this phrase has made asking for telephone numbers redundant, where you find that you will be trading something more complex known as a ‘Pin’

“What’s your Pin” asks Aizat.

“Oh, its AX!%$%$&!AS@R#$@@138402748201-38-28402482046392” says Klarissa.

(Alternatively, you can scan what is called a Barcode – which is the image at the top)

The phone has spread across South East Asia like a pandemic. It was designed for the corporate consumer, to effectively manage business processes and communication. However, it has broken into the wider market,which has a younger demographic such as students, teenagers, and pre-teens because of the BlackBerry messenger application, which allows for ‘free’ SMS. In Indonesia alone, 56.8% of the population uses this phone, and its been predicted to reach 146 million users by 2010.

Living in South East Asia and not owning this device, will have a negative implication in your social life, you may find that communication between your friends and new acquaintances becomes limited and even restricted when not having this product in your possession.

My personal experiences coming to terms with this (mis)understanding, was when I was trying to hit on this cewek at a club in Jakarta.

I was hanging out with the other male writers of shriekingmonkeys popping champagne bottles (feeling like P Diddy) like no ones business. When a busty, Sundanese girl approaches our table and catches my attention. So the regular ‘pick up’ method ensues, where drinks are poured, the ice is broken, and simple conversation is exchanged. This eventually comes to ‘exchanging numbers part’.

“Malay boy, I think you so adorable” slurs the Sundanese girl.

Not the Fruit.

“Why thank you, I get that quite a bit, so don’t flatter yourself” I reply.

“I don’t understand, but’s its alright, what’s your BEE BEE?” she asks.

“Oh, sorry, I don’t have a Blackberry” I answer dejectedly.

“Well you not adorable anymore!” She replies in anger.

She throws the champagne at my face, and steps on my toe and storms off. I sit there rejected while consoling my bruised ego because I didn’t own a Blackberry. (The anecdote is fiction by the way. But you get my point!)

I strongly believe that the massive control of the market comes with the selling point of the Blackberry Messenger application which insinuates the principles of consumerism and Malcom Gladwell’s theory of the Tipping point.

Consumerism believes that personal happiness can be obtained in consumption of a product. Happiness can be seen and found through your friends,family, and colleagues. So a product than can bring communication between these characters also brings happiness.

The Tipping Point is a sociological theory which observes a threshold point where when a product or an idea tips over and spreads like a pandemic. I understand this in this context as:

A group friends buy the Blackberry, invite their friends, they buy the BlackBerry, and tell their other friends – repeat these steps through until South East Asia is conquered.

Fulfilling these two principles has worked in favor in Blackberry’s marketing campaign, as they seek to brainwash expand their market, and forsee the boundaries of communication being broken. So getting in contact with your good friend’s all the way in {insert country} is as simple as BEE BEEING him or her.

So, in the sake of communication I take the saying: ”If you can’t beat them – Join them”.

So add me on my BlackBerry soon – my ego swallowed and my heart in tears.

(However, I still stand on my opinion that the iPhone is the superior product ALL-ROUND, and that the BlackBerry only competes BECAUSE of its Messenger service. Boo-yah.)

Iphone WIN

SQUIRREL SHIT COFFEE @ ANOMALI COFFEE JAKARTA

100% Indo - Asik!

Anomali Coffee in South Jakarta is a premier joint to visit for coffee connoisseurs who would like to try a variety of local beans harvested around the Islands of Indonesia. They specialize in only Indonesian coffee beans, and strive to promote the uniqueness and richness of Indonesian coffee and present their motto to ‘Support our Local Coffee’.

Fuck Starbucks.

As you step inside the cafe, you are welcomed by the warm allure of freshly roasted coffee, the feeling of sophistication of a ‘authentic’ coffee shop that is reminiscent of those found in Melbourne, San Francisco, and London.

What is unique of the cafe as I reinstate, is that the coffee is locally produced, and 100% Indonesian. So you are treated to the best coffee beans in the world. The prices are shockingly affordable, and they are smoker friendly (as of the rest of Indonesia – which is awesome!)

However, what caught this writers eye, was the most expensive coffee that they serve – Kopi Luwak.

Hit the wikipedia link above for more detail of how the actually they process the coffee, I will just put a by step by step summary, on how Kopi Luwak is produced:

  1. Coffee berries spread around the ground.
  2. Hungry squirrel/weasel roams around for food. Discovers Berries (hooray!). And gobbles away.
  3. Digestion happens. The beans remain undigested, but the berries are enriched by the animals bowels.
  4. It shits it out.
  5. The coffee beans are collected, rigorously washed and sun dried (Killing any possibilities of poo bacteria such as e.coli).

I’m still pretty sure that most readers are still thinking “That sounds cool, but why the fuck would I drink squirrel shit?” Well my friends, it seems that a lot of people do, in a research found in the book “The Gospel According to Starbucks” it reveals:

Kopi Luwak was the most expensive coffee in the world, selling for between $100 and $600 USD per pound, and is sold mainly in Japan and the United States by weight, and served in coffeehouses in Southeast Asia by the cup.

Wikipedia:

Examples of selling by the cup:

One small cafe, the Heritage Tea Rooms, in the hills outside Townsville in Queensland, Australia, has Kopi Luwak coffee on the menu at A$50.00 (=US$33.00) per cup, selling approximately seven cups a week, which has gained nationwide Australian and international press, creating over $5 Million AUD of media attention for this rare coffee.[3] In April 2008, the brasserie of Peter Jones department store in London’s Sloane Square started selling a blend of Kopi Luwak peanut and Blue Mountain called Caffe Raro for £50 (=US$99.00) a cup.[4]

This is the Shit! (literally)

It was 100,000 Rupiah or 30 malaysian Ringgit for a cup of coffee. But I paid for it.

I have to say that my background with understanding and tasting coffee is zilch. I enjoy and prefer my 3 in 1 Nescafe, than any frappe latte or berrylicious espresso. However, I rely on my tongue to judge to what tastes good – and my taste buds were invigorated with such richness that was not experienced by any coffee I had consumed before.

It felt like these squirrels shat out a little piece of heaven on my tongue.

And Put Simply, It was delicious. And if I had mo’ money’s I would’ve bought another cup.

(In a relevant moral statement, is that you should always open your boundaries to new things – even if it is drinking squirrel shit, because you learn a unique perspective on new and old things, and you invigorate all your senses by trying something Different)

Thank you, Anomali Coffee for enriching my experiences, and I hope all the best with your operations, I strongly believe that your joint has to be one of the best cafes I’ve ever been to, and the most memorable. And to our beautiful tour guides, Anggra and Mila for taking us there.

Expect a visit from me again to your cafe next time I pay a visit to Jakarta. Its a Beautiful Place.

Happy Customers.