What is a warung

Warung (wah-roong) : Cafe, restaurant bar and social club all under one (often ramshackle) roof. Constructed out of anything and everything and usually featuring the same colour scheme as that of the nearest project. If two Warungs open up next door to each other with a gap in between, someone will nail a sheet of roofing in place and open a third establishment. No matter what the menu on the wall says the only food they ever serve is Nasi or Mie Goreng (fried rice or noodles)

Hot tea is served in glasses so you can measure how much sugar has been added, minimum acceptable is three centimeters. Coffee is black and strong, never, ever, ever drain the glass unless you want to be spitting grounds, sand and grit for the next hour.

Beer is often available with loose interpretations of the term ‘cold’ and whilst a frosted bottle is an alien concept, putting huge lumps of ice in beer is perfectly acceptable, learning to love heavily watered lager is not an easily acquired skill.

No matter how basic the premises, there will be a large colour TV in every Warung, these are special units and arrive direct from the factory with only two pre-set volume levels ‘maximum’ and ‘distortion’

Smoking in Warungs is compulsory, non-smokers are considered limp wristed and downright unpatriotic. Local cigarettes are strong, smelly and unfiltered, it takes a real man to cough in the face of lung cancer!

A word on the local beer and Indonesian drinking habits. Bir Bintang is brewed in West Java and is quite a decent drink when served properly i.e. Ice cold. The alcohol content is labeled at 4.8% which is on a par with most imported ales but far cheaper. The only downside being, Formaldehyde is used as both a preservative and to add a ‘kick’ it leaves a yucky phlegmy ‘morning after’ taste, prolonged imbibing of the product leaves the drinker with a yellow, furry tongue, often giving the casual observer the impression the drinker may have recently eaten a teddy bear.

Guinness (Gwissniss) is freely available in one of its many reincarnations and is used as the basis of many tonics and pick-me-ups, as of course it is in many parts of the world.

Sample : Madura Viagra

1 Can Guiness

2 Raw eggs

1 Can Red Bull (Kretendaeng)

Mix and top off with Sprite

Never actually tried it but it sounds like it could be a half decent hangover cure…..if it stays down.


Incidentally, Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation on the planet and therefore you might expect a draconian attitude to alcohol, far from it and many a ‘Good Muslim’ enjoys a moderate tipple, and many a ‘Moderate Muslim’ enjoys a good tipple. There are of course the religious fanatics who can be seen on TV protesting and burning flags at every opportunity, these eejits number a few thousand out of a Peaceful Islamic Nation of two hundred million, go figure the percentages.

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Expressions and signs that cannot be translated into Bahasa Indonesia

  1. No Smoking
  2. Please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a standstill and the seatbelt signs are extinguished.
  3. Please queue behind the yellow line.
  4. No Parking
  5. Please do not use cell phones beyond this point.
  6. Only food purchased on the premises may be consumed here.
  7. Do not sit on the escalator.
  8. Maximum elevator load ten persons.
  9. STOP at the red light.

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What is a kampung

Kampung (kam-poong) : A village perceived by most city-dwellers to be one step away from the Stone Age. To be referred to as ‘kampungan’ is a derisory expression meaning a peasant, uneducated, low class when in fact the person using the insult is more or less proving they have no class at all and are in fact totally ‘kampungan’ themselves !

Derivative Jakampungan. A female who after residing in Jakarta for four weeks and acquiring a fake ‘high-end’ cell phone, starts sending texts in ‘Ingrinesian’ and for no apparent reason uses the phrase ‘ohmigod’ at totally inappropriate times. Easily identified on the arm of new Bule Boyfriend in five star hotels and restaurants ordering Teh Bottle and Nasi Goreng (bottled sweet tea and fried rice) 

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Who or what is ‘Bapak’

Bapak (baa-pak) : Originally an honorific title bestowed on elderly males and meaning ‘respected father’ and indeed still has that interpretation in most contexts. However ‘bapak mentality’ is a different matter altogether and usually refers to some jumped-up minor official full of his own importance.

The sort of prick who hangs back in airport departure lounges long after the flight has been called waiting for his name to be announced over the PA system so he can make a grand entrance as the last passenger to board the  ‘plane. For some unknown reason this actually does impress Indonesians of a certain station in life whilst of course it only proves to the rest of us what utter wankers they truly are!

Beware anyone who introduces themselves as ‘bapak’ or has it as a title on their business card.

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Wily Bule exactly what is a Bule?

Bule (boo-lay) :  A foreigner, or to be exact, a light skinned foreigner. Originally a mispronunciation of the word ‘albino’ . In more recent times it has become a generic term for fat, bald, old white men who invariably have a local girlfriend a third of their age and are perceived as being paid vast amounts of money for no apparent reason . The term is now often classed as derogatory.

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Java …not just a cup of Coffee

Java. The most heavily populated island in Indonesia. Home to a vast array of cultures, landscapes, flora and fauna. The rapidly increasing population plus the development of fabrication, petrochemical and electronic assembly industries throughout the island means there is a huge demand for reliable electricity supplies. Coal is one of Indonesia’s main natural resources and therefore the majority of IPPs (Independent Power Plants) are coal-fired. Japan, Korea and China are three of the main investors in construction and operation employing numerous foreigners in engineering, supervision and QA/QC. Many travellers build their hopes and dreams here………

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Hi Hi Hi …….. Welcome to the Planet Writeson

Here we go then ….author, writer, lover, fighter, dancer, romancer, reprobate, chancer, former drinker now a deep thinker, DJ remixer, broken boat fixer, bit short on good looks…but that don’t sell books…which is what I do….read and enjoy ‘From Jarrow to Java (on a beer scooter)’ online here.






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