Must buys from Indonesia

1. Batik.

Batik is probably the best representation of Indonesian creativity in artwork. The complexity of the motif applied in batik is stupendous. It is simply WOW. So do yourself a favour and bring home some batik clothing or apparels.

Batik can be found in boutique shops at major shopping malls, though these are more expensive, but better quality. Expect a shirt or dress to cost anything between S$25 to S$800. Locals will be able to tell you about specialty shops where you can get better value batik, such as at Mirota Batik and Handicraft Surabaya (highly recommended for men’s clothing). The lower end batik can be found at a Pasar (market) or wholesale centres (called grosir, such as ITC in Surabaya).

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Mirota, Surabaya

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2. Factory Outlet Clothing

Bandung is the most well known town for factory outlets, and you can basically skip all the other factory outlets and just go to Rumah Mode. They sell authentic branded factory overrun or rejected clothing, though probably 30% of the goods sold there are still fake.

3. Snacks

Probably no other people in the world eat as much crackers as Indonesians do. There are literally hundreds of variety of crackers, known as krupuk, made from all kinds or ingredients ranging from seafood to roots to seeds to fruits to flour. My favourite krupuk of all has got to be emping, also known as belinjau or belinjo crackers. It has an interesting slightly bitter taste. When Fried, it remains very thin. It is very crispy, yet not brittle like cassava chips, which makes it more chewable. The taste and texture makes it a winner.

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Besides krupuk, Indonesians also love all things confectionery. Kueh lapis, or layered cake, is perhaps the most famous of them all. It is a laborious cake to make, whereby each layer has to be baked incrementally. Bika Ambon is another unique cake that involves fermentation.

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4. Coffee and tea

Kopi Luwak is one of the most expensive coffee in the world, and having sampled it, i would agree that it has an exquisite taste. The problem with buying kopi luwak is, you’ll never know how authentic it is, unless you personally know the seller.

You can also get high quality Arabica beans, the more renowned ones of which are Toraja and Mandheling. These are sold in supermarkets (e.g. Carrefour) for cheap and they are really exceptional coffee.

If you’re into tea, Indonesia produces good quality tea, but you may not be able to find them because the best quality ones are exported. Nevertheless, I think it is still worthwhile buying some coffee (other than Kopi Luwak) and tea from Indonesia.

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Packets of coffee powder (165g) named “Luwak” and “Kopi Luwak” that are actually not the real thing sells for IDR 11.2k (S$1.20) in a supermarket. Tea leaves in traditional paper wrapping is still common.

5. Fruits

Indonesia produces a lot of fruits, and the Arumanis or Harumanis Mango is among the best. These are suitable to be brought home to impress friends. Sirsak (Soursop) is also a delightful Indonesian fruit.

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Sirsak (left) and Arumanis Mango (bottom right)

6. Furniture / Tiles

This may sound extreme, but i would love to bring home some Indonesian furniture (Teak or not) and granite or marble tiles. They are among the most beautiful i have seen. Indonesia is indeed blessed with many wonderful natural resources.

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