Friday, June 28, 2013

Say No To Palm Oil

Poor orangutan - badly burned and  in a vulnerable state

   Say no to palm oil! Did you know that each and everyone of us is fueling one of the world’s biggest ecological disasters and acts of primate genocide in history? Please share the important info and take action!

Borneo and Sumatra are two of the most bio-diverse regions of the world, yet they have the longest list of endangered species. This list includes the magnificent orangutan. These two South-East Asian islands are extremely rich in life, containing around 20,000 flowering plant species, 3,000 tree species, 300,000 animal species and thousands more being discovered each year. Despite this amazing biodiversity and delicate web of species, an area the size of 300 football fields of rainforest is cleared each hour in Indonesia and Malaysia to make way for the production of one vegetable oil. That’s 6 football fields destroyed each minute. This vegetable oil is called palm oil, and is found in hundreds of the everyday products, from baked goods and confectionery, to cosmetics and cleaning agents… many of which you buy in your weekly shopping.

Due to the massive international demand for palm oil, palm oil plantations are rapidly replacing the rainforest habitat of the critically endangered orangutan; with over 90% of their habitat already destroyed in the last 20 years.

Orangutans are some of our closest relatives, sharing approximately 97% of their DNA with humans. Orangutan means ‘Person of the jungle’ in the Indonesian language. It is estimated that 6 to 12 of these ‘jungle people’ are killed each day for palm oil. These gentle creatures are either killed in the deforestation process, when they wonder into a palm oil plantation looking for food, or in the illegal pet trade after they’ve been captured and kept as pets in extremely poor conditions and provided with extremely poor nutrition.

Orangutans are considered as pests by the palm oil industry. In the deforestation process, workers are told that if wildlife gets in the way, they are to do whatever is necessary in order to dispose them, no matter how inhumane. Often orangutans are run over by logging machinery, beat to death, buried alive or set on fire… all in the name of palm oil.

Government data has shown that over 50,000 orangutans have already died as a result of deforestation due to palm oil in the last two decades. Experts say that if this pattern of destruction and exploitation continues, these intelligent acrobats of the jungle will be extinct in the wild within 3 to 12 years (as early as 2015). It is also thought that their jungle habitat will be completely gone within 20 years (approximately 2033).

Around 50 million tons of palm oil is produced annually; with almost all of that being non-sustainable palm oil, that replaces 12 million hectares of dense, bio-diverse rainforest. That’s the equivalent landmass of North Korea deforested each year for palm oil alone!

Palm oil is also having a shocking impact on our planet. The production of this one vegetable oil is not only responsible for polluting rivers and causing land erosion, but when the plantation workers set fire to the remaining trees, shrubs and debris to make way for the oil palms, it produces immense amount of smoke pollution that is toxic to planet earth. This has been found to be the second biggest contributor to greenhouse gas in the world.

By purchasing products that contain crude palm oil, you are helping destroy ancient, pristine rainforest, wipe out species like the orangutan, and create a large-scale ecological disaster. Think of the consequences next time you do your weekly shopping; the consequences not only for orangutans and other animals, but for us as the human race; for we cannot survive without the rainforests either. We have a choice, orangutans do not.


Sunday, June 23, 2013

Bengkulu to establish biggest Rafflesia center in Asia

Rafflesia arnoldii
The Bengkulu Tourism and Culture Agency will establish a center to exhibit various types of its rare giant flower the Rafflesia. 

Bengkulu Tourism and Culture Agency head Hasanuddin said on Monday that the exhibition center would be built in two locations in Taba Penanjung, Central Bengkulu, and on Jl. Bencoolen in Tapak Paderi. The center would be established upon two hectares of land and expected to cost Rp 4.5 billion (US$468,018).

“We will propose the establishment of the center to the Tourism and Creative Economy Minister on Tuesday,” he said, adding that the center would be the biggest in Asia.

Tourists usually have to go to the Rindu Hati conservation forest in Kepahiang regency to hunt the foul-smelling flowers that bloom only once a year. The Rafflesia exhibition center is expected to make it easier for tourists who want see the flowers.

According to a researcher from Faculty of Agriculture at Bengkulu University Agus Susatya, there are 25 varieties of Rafflesia in the world, 11 of which can be found in the Sumatra rainforest including in Bengkulu.(cor)

A Rafflesia arnoldii in full bloom

Original source:
Nurni Sulaiman, The Jakarta Post, Bengkulu | Archipelago | Mon, December 10 2012

Photos by: Adriansyah Putera

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bengkulu, Getting There and Away

Last updated: February 2nd 2017

Bengkulu, Getting There and Away

     The city of Bengkulu is easily accessible by land and air transportation. You can catch regular buses from Palembang, Padang, Bukittinggi, Pekanbaru, Bandung or Jakarta. At the time of writing, there are daily flights from Jakarta only which served by Lion Air and Sriwijaya Air.

Lion Air operates 3 times departure flights daily from Jakarta to Bengkulu (09:30, 13:30 & 17:15). Departure flight from Bengkulu to Jakarta (10:20, 15:00 & 18:20). You can book your flight through several convenient e-payment methods like online payment using your VISA or MasterCard, ATM payment that is only applicable in Indonesia at Bank Niaga, Lippo Bank, BII Bank, BNI Bank, Permata Bank, BRI Bank, Mandiri Bank, Panin Bank and Bank BCA, and Internet banking through Lippo Bank, Mandiri Bank, BNI Bank and Klik BCA. All you need is your Booking Code (PNR) and the Payment Code. 24/7 Information & reservation service at 0804-1-778899.
Call Center Numbers:
(+6280) 4177 8899
(+6221) 6379 8000
Customer Care
Phone: (+6221) 633 8345
SMS: (+6281) 9222 9999
Fax : (+6221) 633 5669

Bus Companies to/from Bengkulu

SAN Travel services a wide range of destinations. Bengkulu - Jakarta (dep 08:30 executive class for Rp. 250,000). Bengkulu - Bukittinggi (dep 10:00 business class Rp. 135,000). Bengkulu - Padang (dep 12:00 executive class Rp. 150,000). Bengkulu - Pekanbaru (dep 11:00 executive class Rp. 165,000). Bengkulu - Bandung (dep 09:00 executive class Rp. 280,000). Bengkulu - Solo (dep 13:00 business class Rp. 325,000).

Headquarters: Jalan MT. Haryono 18, Bengkulu (next to Vista hotel)
Phone: (0736) 21811
Mobile: 085267982121
SAN Travel official representative in Jakarta: Jl. Perintis Kemerdekaan Pulo Mas Blok 12 No.10 phone (021) 4705502

Other optional long distance bus services: 
Putra Rafflesia (headquarters address Jalan MT Haryono 12; phone 0736-20313 and Jalan S. Parman No.19 Tanah Patah phone 0736-26162/24098) services a wide range of destinations: Bengkulu, Lampung, Palembang, Jakarta, Bandung. Tanjung Indah (headquarters Jalan MT Haryono 108 Bengkulu) runs minivans to Palembang and other destinations.

Public city transport in Bengkulu

Bengkulu Getting Around

    A counter at the airport offers rental cars and taxis rides for Rp. 60,000 into downtown. Alternatively, walk down to the road in front of the terminal building to the main road and turn to your right as you exit the airport and then take a white public city transport locally known as “angkot” (Rp. 3,000) to Terminal Panorama, then take another angkot either yellow or green angkot (Rp. 3,000) to the downtown. This alternative way is much cheaper than taking regular airport taxis.
Beware and don't get ripped off! The most fun way to get around Bengkulu is by angkot (public city transport). But the angkot drivers sometimes tend to overcharge westerners. To avoid this unacceptable overcharging, you should tell the driver where you’re going before get on. All rides cost Rp. 3,000 (updated Feb 2017) for one route regardless of the distance and anything the drivers may tell you. It is strongly recommended to have exact change for the fare. Give extra Rp. 10,000 to the driver if you bring a lot of luggage with you.

Hiring a car in Bengkulu
One of rental vehicle types in Bengkulu
    Hiring a car and driver is a convenient way to get around and its neighbor cities. Toyota Kijang (a type of 4WD) is a common type of rental vehicles. The hire of self-drive car is rarely available in Bengkulu especially for foreigners. It is more common and a better option to hire a car plus driver, which saves a lot of inconvenience. General rates for a 6-passanger-van start from Rp. 250,000 (about USD 25) up to Rp. 450,000 (about USD 45) per day, all rates exclude fuel and the driver’s meals. Vehicle types may vary depending on location. Car hire rates in Bengkulu are more expensive than rates in Java and Bali.

Happy travels!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Differences Between Rafflesia Arnoldii And Carrion Flower

Rafflesia arnoldii
Last updated: May 8, 2017

Rafflesia arnoldii and Carrion flowers (Amorphophallus titanium) are two different types of plants. Although by the second type of plant is sometimes considered the same even mixed up. I myself had heard of a teacher told the students that the Carrion flower is Rafflesia. 

Indeed Rafflesia and carrion flowers have the same size (giant) and smelled a foul odor. But between Rafflesia and carrion flowers (Amorphophallus titanium) have differences in biological classification, shape, color, way of life, and the life cycle. 

Rafflesia is a genus of parasitic plants flower. The Rafflesia arnoldii was discovered by a British Lieutenant named Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles who had been appointed the Governor of Bencoolen Province (currently known as Bengkulu) and the British botanist Dr. Joseph Arnold when they arrived in Lubuk Tapi – South Bengkulu in May of 1818. The names of the two men - Raffles and Arnold - were used to give the plant its botanical or scientific name. Rafflesia arnoldii is now the official symbol of Bengkulu province. The Rafflesia contains approximately 27 species (including four incompletely as recognized by Meijer 1997), all species can be found in Southeast Asia, in the Malay Peninsula, Borneo, Sumatra, and the Philippines. This plant has no stems, leaves or true roots. 

Rafflesia arnoldii can reach a diameter of about 1 meter
Rafflesia is endoparasites on Tetra stigma vines of the genus (family Vitaceae), spreading haustorium similar roots in the vines network. In some species, such as Rafflesia arnoldii, the flower diameter may be more than 100 cm, and weighing up to 10 kg. Even the smallest species, the Rafflesia manillana, flower diameter is 20 cm. Rafflesia is much known to the public is kind of Rafflesia Arnoldii. Type of forest grows only in southern Sumatra, especially Bengkulu. 

The main characteristic that distinguishes corpse flower Rafflesia with the laity is widened shape (not high) and red. When in bloom, the flowers can reach a diameter of about 1 meter and 50 cm tall. Rafflesia flowers do not have roots, stems, and leaves. The flowers have 5 crowns. At the base there is a barrel-shaped flower stamens or pistils, depending on the sex of flowers. This flower growth period takes up to 9 months, but the flowering period of only 5-7 days. After that Rafflesia will wither and die. Until now Rafflesia has never successfully bred outside their natural habitat. Rafflesia requires primary forest habitat to survive. 

Bit of information, as long as 200-year-old plants of the genus Rafflesiaceae difficult to classify due to the characteristics of the body that are not public. Based on DNA research by botanists at Harvard University recently, Rafflesia put in the family Euphorbiaceae, a family with rubber trees and cassava. But it is still not well publicized. 

The bud of Rafflesia arnoldii
Several species of Rafflesia in Indonesia; Rafflesia arnoldii (endemic in West Sumatra, Bengkulu and Aceh), R. borneensis (Borneo), R. cilliata (East Kalimantan), R. horsfilldii (Java), R. patma (Nusa Kambangan and Pangandaran), R. rochussenii (West Java), and R. contleyi (eastern Sumatra). 

Scientific classification: 
Kingdom: Plantae 
Division: Magnoliophyta 
Class: Magnoliopsida 
Order: Malpighiales 
Family: Rafflesiaceae
Genus: Rafflesia

Carrion Flower

Besides Rafflesia, another giant flower known to the public is Kibut or Titan Arum (Amorphophallus titanium) also known as the Carrion flower. This type of endemic grows in the forests of Sumatra - Indonesia.

Titan Arum is not in bloom

The Carrion flower Titan arum is cream-colored on the outside and on the towering. Overview current form looks like a flower blooming trumpet. When Rafflesia just wide, the Carrion flower grows tall. Corpse flower Amorphophallus titanium species can reach about 3 - 4 m.

In addition, the Carrion flower is monoecious plants and protogini, where the female flowers receptive first, then followed by ripe male flowers, as a mechanism to prevent self-pollination. The stench issued by the flowers, like the Rafflesia, serves to attract beetles and flies pollinators for the flowers. After the flowering period (approximately 7 days) pass, the corpse flower will wither. And going back through the cycle, returning to the vegetative phase, which will grow new trees in the former corpse flower bulbs.

If fertilization occurs during the flowering period, it will form a red colored fruit with seeds on the former base of the flower. These seeds can be planted a tree in the vegetative phase. These seeds are now cultivated. 

Taken from:

Titan Arum - the world's tallest flower
Let’s help each other!

Let’s make this post available in various languages! Translating this post can help more readers in your language to understand this post. If you would like to translate this post into your language or if you need help to translate some of your posts into Indonesian, please send me an email to

Photos by: Adriansyah Putera & Peter Kimball
Photographed in Taba Penanjung and Tebat Monok, Bengkulu province - Indonesia. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Bengkulu - A Small Relaxed City

Calm Jenggalu river at sunset
Last updated Feb 2nd, 2017 
   Bengkulu, a small relaxed city, is the provincial capital of the province of the same name. It is a calm city by comparison to other Indonesia cities facing the Indonesian/Indian Ocean. Bengkulu is the smallest provincial capital in Sumatra, it has only an area of 151.70 sq km (94.2 sq. miles) and a population of 308,756 inhabitants with a population density of  2,136 people per sq km, 95% are Moslems (population census 2010). 

Climate and Borders:
    Bengkulu has a tropical humid climate which is influenced by two seasons within the whole year, the rainy season and the dry season. The rainy season lasts from October to March (peaking in December - February), and the dry season from April to September. June to August are the best months to visit Bengkulu. The temperature throughout the year averages 26°C (78.8°F) to 32°C (89.6°F). With the smallest land area and population in Sumatra, Bengkulu has a diverse and simple lifestyle in each of its four corners. The city is bordered by the sunny shores of the Indian Ocean to the west, the rural and forested landscape of Central Bengkulu district to the north and east, the massive rubber and palm plantations of Seluma district to the south. Time zone: WIB (UTC+7).

Bengkulu Timeline
Fort Marlborough
    Bengkulu was the seat of the British power and influence in western parts of Indonesia from 1685 until 1825, which they called Bencoolen. The British persisted, maintaining their presence for roughly 140 years before ceding it to the Dutch as part of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 to focus attention on Malacca. From 1939 – 1942 Bengkulu was a home-in-domestic-exile for the Indonesian nationalist leader Soekarno who later became Indonesia’s first president during the struggles against Dutch colonial rule. Bengkulu remained part of the Dutch East Indies until the Japanese occupation in World War 2. 

Popular attractions to visit   
Panjang beach
Bengkulu still lives in the shadow of the roaring 1990s. When visiting Bengkulu for a vacation or business there are many attractions to visit from its good beaches to nearby interesting historical sites. On the edge of the old port, set on a hill overlooking the Indian Ocean fort Marlborough is a wonderful introduction for visitors to the city. The impressive Fort Marlborough stands as a reminder of the British occupation, and there are several other colonial reminders, such as the Governor’s residence, European cemetery, etc. About 2 km (1.2 miles) from the downtown, Panjang beach offers fun hanging out and relaxing spots with more restaurants, hotels, shops, which also bustles with street vendors and nightlife. If you are a surfer, don't miss some hidden good surf spots in Samudera Ujung beach. Bengkulu has a wide selection of mid-range accommodation at along Panjang beach (Jalan Pariwisata). You can get to most tourist attractions on foot.
    Although few foreign tourists visit Bengkulu, it is one of the most attractive cities in Sumatra. With much of its colonial architecture still intact, it retains a languid charm and elegance and has not been scarred by insensitive redevelopment. The shores around the city of Bengkulu are scenic and unspoilt. The city comparatively clean and lacks the frenetic traffic and noise of other cities its size, vehicles seem to be fewer and to be driven with less resource to the horn, while the locals are friendly and have time to spare for foreigners who make it here.

Getting There and Away
The city of Bengkulu is easily accessible by land and air transportation. You can catch regular buses from Palembang, Padang or Jakarta. For now, there are daily flights from Jakarta only.

Getting Around
Samudera Ujung surf
A counter at the airport offers rental cars and taxis rides for Rp. 60,000 into downtown. Alternatively, walk down to the road in front of the terminal building to the main road and turn to your right as you exit the airport and then take a white public city transport locally known as “angkot” (Rp. 3,000) to Terminal Panorama, then take another angkot either yellow or green angkot (Rp. 3,000) to the downtown. This alternative way is much cheaper than taking regular airport taxis.  

Beware and don't get ripped off! The most fun way to get around Bengkulu is by angkot (public city transport), but the angkot drivers sometimes tend to overcharge foreign travelers. To avoid this unacceptable overcharging, you should tell the driver where you’re going before get on. All rides cost Rp. 3,000 (updated Feb 2017) for one route regardless of the distance and anything the drivers may tell you. It is strongly recommended to have exact change for the fare. Give extra Rp. 5,000 - 10,000 to the driver if you bring a lot of luggage with you.

Pros and Cons
Pros: Bengkulu is a safe city, it has many fine beaches and historical sites.
Cons: The locals like to stare at bule (foreign tourist). Shopping is not that great, very few small shops that offer unique wares.
Overall: A small relaxed city with nice beaches and friendly people.

Additional sources:
  • Lonely Planet Indonesia 7th Edition

  • Related posts:
    Traces of British Colonial Presence on Bengkulu Soil 
    Bengkulu, Getting There and Away 
    Tips for Traveling on Rainy Sumatra Days
    Panjang Beach Bengkulu

    More photos from Bengkulu
    Fort Marlborough - a British reminder

    Tapak Paderi beach 
    Riding a Sumatran elephant 

    Photos by Adriansyah Putera and Jeff Doust

    Saturday, June 1, 2013

    Natural Beauty of Bukit Daun

    Bukit Daun at sunset
    Last updated: January 21st 2017

    Seeing Rafflesia arnoldii
           Another area of awesome natural beauty in Bengkulu province, Bukit Daun is a nature conservation surrounded by mountains on all sides and rich with traditional Rejang culture. It is home to endangered species such as, honey bear, Rafflesia arnoldii, the world’s largest flower, and Amorphophallus titanium (locally known as bunga Kibut), the world’s tallest flower. Many kinds of orchid could be found here, too. It is at 800-900 m above sea level, the best way to explore the village is on foot. The air is cool and clean, and the locals are hospitable.

    Besides natural beauty, Bukit Daun also offers some great do-it-yourself trekking opportunities where you can explore the fresh and clean outdoors and meet hospitable locals, and stunning sunrises. There is a small Japanese WWII bunker which is constructed of rebar-enforced cement and stone in Bukit Daun. You could also day-trip here for some hiking through forests/coffee plantations and a local lunch. There aren’t any real restaurants in Bukit Daun and most visitors end up having meals and drinks in warung (simple food stall). Basic supplies are available in local shops.

    Getting there:
    Bukit Daun nature conservation is about 48 km (30 miles) from the city of Bengkulu and can be reached on day trips from Bengkulu, Curup or Kepahiang. Simply take a public transport (Rp. 10,000) to Tebat Monok from Terminal Nakau in Bengkulu or rent a Kijang. 

    More photos

    The bloom of Rafflesia arnoldii in Bukit Daun nature conservation

    Fun hiking through Bukit Daun forest
    Japanese WWII bunker
    Foggy scenery of Bukit Daun

    Photos by Adriansyah Putera and Shirley Utama Adriansyah