Tag Archives: thieves

Ghosts of Indonesia

I didn’t realize how many ghosts there are in the Indonesian culture.  But I got to learn about them first hand one Thursday night with Faisal, Misba, Aput, Andre, Ucok and Iswan.  The conversation first started when I was warned about the hypnotizing thieves at market places.

Hypnotizing thieves???  Though not so common anymore, the boys did warn me that if someone tapped me on the shoulder or put a hand on me, to never look them in the eyes.  The reason for this is that there apparently are people so talented in the art of hypnosis that they can literally cast a spell on you.  It starts with a hand or tap on the shoulder.  If you look the person in the eyes the “spell” is complete.  They then instruct you to give them all your money and to return home.  It’s only when you get home that the spell is broken and you realize you have just been robbed!!  Again, the boys insisted that this rarely happens anymore, but that it has happened quite a lot in the past.  However, since I almost always went to the market with Mama, it was never an issue:)

So this interesting tidbit eventually moved into the topic of the many ghosts in the Indonesian culture.  Once the “story telling” (I put that in quotes because they don’t believe them to be simply stories, but rather real events) began, it went on long into the wee night hours!  I learned first that Thursday nights are considered the night with the most ghost activity, and that was one reason why Friday’s are considered their holiest of days. Also it should be noted that with the dawn of electricity there haven’t been so many sightings of each ghost as light keeps them away!

Mind you, what I’m writing below are stories of each ghost as given to me by the six men.  They talked rather fast at times and often over each other trying to find the correct words while telling me about the ghosts, so below are my best scribbles about each one.  I hope I’m going to do them justice!

Doti (aka Santeh or Dooken): Voo Doo, wicked black magic.  These people can insert an evil spirit into a body essentially possessing them.

Tuyul: half human, half spirit that steals money

Babi Ngepet: half pig, half human.  Can only turn into a pig on Thursday nights.  There is a keeper of this creature who can turn the human into a pig when he lights a special candle.  IF the candle is extinguished, the pig turns back into a human.  Once in pig form however, it goes out and searches for money for its owner (the candle bearer).  Babi is stronger and faster than Tuyul as it can instantly send the stolen money to its owner.  If the candle bearer notices that the flame starts to flicker, that means that the Babi (pig) is in trouble and may have been noticed.  But the pig can turn back into a human.  So if it’s being chased and can get into a dark corner or alleyway, the keeper can extinguish the candle flame and turn it back into a human to get it out of trouble.

Poppok: A human, but in the night he can fly.  He is naked.  Can be a man or a woman.  They go to the sea and bring fish for the house.  If you meet and annoy them they will tickle you to death.  But if you hit it with a native palm leaf one time you scare him.  Hit him twice and you make him stronger.  ONLY for South Sulawesi, but may be elsewhere under different names.  This is a genetic trait.  Starts as normal person.  Seeks knowledge to become paranormal.  If he does the steps right, he turns paranormal.  If they do the steps wrong, they turn into a Poppok.

Longga: Very tall human.  He eats people.  Only at night.  Can be in the jungle.  A past problem.

Parakang: Human sometimes around us.  Can be a man or a woman.  At night they go to dirty ditches looking for frogs or fish to eat.  He/she can suck the blood out of newborns.  They will come to newborn baby homes.  They come from the roof, open the roof and come in.  Even in the day.  If it rains with sunshine this is bad.  Sometimes the eyes are red.  If you are suspicious a person is a Parakang, you can test them by throwing salt at the body.  If they thrash about they are a Parakang.  It is a genetic disease.  Can cure them with an exorcism using the Koran.

Pocong: One of the scariest and most famous ghosts in Indonesia.  He has many films made about him.  Happens when a person dies.  During a Muslim burial, they put a white sheet around the body and tie the sheet at the top of the head.  This tie is called Talipocong (tali = line/sting).  After the corpse is covered, it is carried to the grave.  If the talipocong is not removed once the body is put in the grave, the dead person will become Pocong.  They come in the night only and hop around in their sheet that is still tied around their head because they are trapped in the sheet.  Pocong comes around asking to be freed.  People in the village can’t talk, they must be silent or they will attract the Pocong.  But they can help the Pocong or essentially send them away for good by digging up the body and taking off the talipocong.

Kuntilanak:  Only a woman who is pregnant.  Story is from when the Dutch came here to colonize.  A Dutch pregnant woman came and killed herself when she arrived here and she then became Kuntilanak.  Sometimes the story is that she committed suicide, sometimes the story is that she was killed by her boyfriend.  She takes revenge on people by taking other children.  She had her baby in the grave after she was dead and buried.  She picked it up and cradled it.  She takes revenge on her ex by luring single men home.  She appears as a beautiful woman in a white dress, though the feet don’t touch the floor.  She gets the men to take her home, which appears at first to be a beautiful home, but once there it turns back into a gravesite.  The lured man is giddy with love but is stuck in the grave.  She is only happy if she can kill the new girlfriend of her ex-boyfriend.

And there you have it.  Some of the many ghosts of Indonesia!

Back to Indonesia

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Italy

I was born in Italy and lived there for the first 7 years or so of life.  Obviously, it will always have a tender and warm place in my heart:)  But that doesn’t stop me from recognizing things that drive me crazy about the country either!! 😉

First I will start with the positive: Italians in my opinion have mastered the art of enjoying life!  From the meals with friends that take hours (and almost always several courses) to complete then always end with a shot of liquor, then an espresso, followed by another shot and another espresso, lol!!  They really have a passion for life and the enjoyment for it!  They don’t really have personal space, which for some is really hard to accept, and they express themselves very passionately with their body language.  This is another aspect that is hard for non-italians as while it looks from an outsiders perspective that a fight is going on (from their flailing arms and raised voices) they are simply discussing the weather!!  Lol!!

The driving in the country makes me absolutely crazy, as in my opinion all drivers in Italy are absolutely crazy!!  The country is so diverse for being so small and each section has a very strong and individual culture (sometimes to a fault as there are many rivalries between regions that sometimes break out in violence which again speaks to a different kind of passion).  I do love the country and of course recommend it to all travelers!  However, do be aware of petty thieves and pickpockets… They are quite talented in Italy!!  That’s all for now- enjoy my most recent experiences in Italy:)

Oh and by the way- Ice cream and gelato are NOT the same thing… Gelato is to die for whereas ice cream I could pass on:)

On to Florence

Back to Europe

Uvita

The road to Uvita was quite uneventful.  Just before leaving I was told by various Manuel Antonio “locals” (i.e. the bus stop gang previous mentioned in the Manuel Antonio post) that due to the storms that had been in the area, the road to Uvita had been washed out and was impassable.  Though I thanked them for their concerns (really I think they just wanted me to hand out and around with them, but as drugs aren’t my thing I really wanted nothing to do with  these particular folks) I figured that if indeed this information was correct, then the best people who would know for sure would be the bus drivers themselves.

So it was that I set back on a bus from Manuel Antonio to Quepos and had zero trouble boarding a bus for Uvita.  As it turned out the information given to me about the hazardous road wasn’t completely untruthful as at one point we did pass a portion of the road where literally half of it was missing and it was reduced to a single lane road.  The drainage pipe below the road simply wasn’t able to withstand the amount of rain and debris that had passed though to keep it standing.  Nonetheless however we were able to get past the area and still in good time.

On recommendation from a person whom I had met at the Costa Linda Backpackers hostel in Manuel Antonio (he worked for Lonely Planet and was making his way around to various hostels to review for their publications) I was set on staying at a hostel in Uvita called “The Butterfly Garden”.  Ok, once again I can’t be exact of the name now since it has been a while, but it was definitely something to do with butterflies.  And anyone who was paying any sort of attention to the various road signs along the way would have spotted signs for it for quite some time.  The signs for Uvita however were not so clear.  One thing to definitely get used to is that there are never any welcome signs or alerts of any measure to indicate which little town you may be in or may have passed.  All there is to rely on is the information and constant inquiries to local passengers or the bus driver (despite the numerous “do not talk to the bus driver” signs) as to where exactly you are and when it is that you need to leave the bus to make it to the right place!

I was the last person on the local bus and wasn’t panicking yet as I still saw road signs along the way advertising the Butterfly hostel.  Seeing as I was the last one on board however, I struck up conversation with the driver directly this time (usually I try to pick the local people’s brains sitting around me) and he instructed me on when to get off and which way to go.

I was dropped off along a dirt road and pointed in the direction of a long dirt road that curved at the end.  About 10 minutes later I arrived at the Butterfly Garden hostel.  The place had been described to me as “Neverland” complete with treetop bungalows that you had to get into via wooden ladders.  Really the story of the owner, as is the story of most, was quite interesting.  She had moved down years before having decided that Uvita was her place to live.  She gave up everything in the States to create her own personal Neverland and thus there it was in front of me.

The place was quite impressive and had a lot of charms.  They were in the middle of constructing new treetop bungalows however so there was a lot of work and noise going on mainly from volunteer random travelers and from friends of hers from the States who came down to help with construction.  The place honestly was quite deserted had it not been for 2 Italian girls (volunteers to do art work and other creative projects on-site) and another couple of volunteers who were just hanging out trading work for a free stay.

For some reason, while the place was quite nice and the people too were perfectly nice, something about the place just didn’t sit well with me and as soon as I had arrived, I had already made my mind that I would be leaving the next morning.

I nonetheless settled in for the night and as it was still early in the day, I opted to go for a walk along the beach that was only a few hundred meters away and via the entrance from the hostel you could avoid the fee to enter what was considered their National Park.

The Baleen National Park of Uvita is so named for a sand bar and for the numerous whale spottings off of this particular coast.  At just the right tide however, and with an aerial view, a sand bar would present itself in the exact and perfect shape of a whale’s tail!  It sounded so fascinating, but as mentioned you really wouldn’t be able to see much unless you had an aerial view and if you had timed the tides correctly.

I wandered along the beach for quite some time taking pictures of the area but opting not to swim as there were several signs to guard your belongings from beach thieves.  Since I didn’t have a buddy with me to watch my stuff while in the water, I chose this time to simply be a photo-op session.  I do adore the ocean in so many ways but again, perhaps it was just my mood, but the beach wasn’t at all impressive to me.  Or perhaps because I had just come from some beautiful beaches, these just didn’t seem up to par.  The beach was washed up with a ton of random debris, the water looked murky, dirty and portions had what looked to be oil slick along the surface, and sadly there were no whales to spot in the distance.

I spent about 1-2 hours walking along the shore however until I reached a river jutting into the ocean and opted to turn back instead of trying to swim across (Lord knows if I would have been able to get back again with the tides turning!!).  I made it back to the hostel just in time to be invited to go surfing by the owner and her construction friend from the states.  Now, I have never been surfing but at this point thought, why the heck not!  But that’s as far as that story gets as when we got back out to the beach the conditions were not suitable for surfing.  So while I still haven’t been or tried surfing yet, I did learn a little about it by one of the surfers who explained “closed-out” waves and other surfing conditions.  We did spend some time simply splashing about in the ocean however and just enjoying the wonder that Nature had provided in the form of the vast sea.

By this point it was starting to get dark so back to the hostel we all went again.  The rest of the evening was quite uneventful and passed rather dully.  To this day I still can’t put my finger on what my “Beef” with Uvita or the Butterfly place was.  Because while the people were perfectly nice and the place was very beautiful, there just was nothing to really do there.  The town was very small and uneventful (I did forget to mention that I had a walk-about the town itself before the beach walk in search of much needed food!!) and really I felt like I came away from the place having spent way too much money for what it was worth!  But not every place is for everybody, so I took it in stride and stuck with my plan to leave the next morning.  I caught the 9am bus headed South again to get to my next “planned” destination of Puerto Jimenez on the Osa Peninsula

Back to Costa Rica

Pictures from Uvita and the Butterfly Garden hostel: