Our Indonesian Work Trip . . . ahem . . . Holiday!

Host: Country Downs Station
Written by Nikki Elezovich – Owner, Country Downs Station.

My parents (being the wonderful people that they are!) late last year, had offered Kurt and I to not only look after the property, but the kids as well (good gracious . . . that’s a whole lot of love!) for a couple of weeks so that Kurt and I could actually have a holiday, come honeymoon, that we have never taken! Naturally, so as not to offend my folks, we jumped at the chance to . . . well . . . have a break! I was dreaming about a relaxing week or two by a pool that had a bar nearby with cheap cocktails and the sound of waves pounding on the beach in the background. But as you may surmise by now, even on holiday, Kurt is always searching for new things that are related to agriculture and is always keen to have a look at how things are done in different areas/countries etc. So with this in mind, I got into contact with Lisa Wood, who has written a weekly blog for Central Station both last year and this year (Lisa’s Central Station link : http://www.centralstation.net.au/category/hosts/lisa-wood-agp/).

My initial question to Lisa was “Kurt and I are heading over to Lombok to visit a friend and we were wondering if you knew of anything agricultural, cattle, cropping etc that we might be able to have a look at?” Lisa politely told us that she wasn’t aware of anything, however if we happened to be in Sumatra, she might be able to help us out!

So this simple email set up a chain of events that saw us taking a trip to Sumatra, Indonesia to have a look at the facilities and places that some of our cattle end up when being sent to Indonesian feedlots and abattoirs. Lisa so generously donated her time and energy to make our stay in Bandar Lampung interesting, fun, and so very informative. Thanks Lisa! So, we packed our bags, kissed and hugged the kids and took off in an aeroplane sniggering at how silly my folks were to take on all that ‘home stuff’.

I have written this blog over two days as we did quite a lot in one week. So in Indonesia, this is what we did:

Indo trip – March 2014.

Saturday 15th March – We arrived in Bandar Lampung at around 6pm after leaving Broome at 7.30am. Lisa Wood (who works for AGP) picked us up and took us to our hotel, the Novotel (a 4.5 star hotel that goes way beyond anything we have ever stayed at before!). We then headed over to Dr Ross’s place for few beers and a chat and introduction and all of us went out to dinner to a local seafood restaurant where we had a deliciously prepared meal of crabs, squid, rice, and fresh green vegies! We literally fell into the hotel bed at about 1am (Broome time) ruminating over our days experience doing the whole international travel and check-in thing (both Denpasar and Jakarta), then arriving at Jakarta and trying to find our way around that airport! Wow . . . what a massive airport . . . we estimate the airport is about the size of Broome itself . . . mind-boggling big, the taxi of the plane from landing to pulling up took about half an hour!

2.1A view from our hotel window . . . trust us to have a view of machinery!!!

Sunday 16th March – We had lovely sleep-in (7am), followed by a delicious breakfast at the hotel, which became a mandatory excursion each morning we were there! After which, Lisa picked us up at 10am to take us on a road trip to Way Laga where their project from last year has gone from feeding of breeding cows using feed from Palm oil palm waste products (and other weed waste products) to feeding the progeny of those breeders on the same food source. The first project was shown to be a great success and the second one is looking pretty great too. They had also undertaken another side-project that utilised some of the waste in a bio-fuel setup whereby they can produce enough gas to power a couple of gas lamps and a couple of gas BBQ’s.

2.2The Bio-fuel set up.

Kurt and I were really keen to take that info home and see how we could save energy this way! We haven’t done it yet, but it’s still there in the back of our minds! The weaners at Way Laga were aged from about six months to about two and half years and were fat, happy, and completely calm, so lovely to see it in action.

2.3It is not often you get to pat someone else’s calves!

We then had a fabulous lunch at an Indo version of a road-house (Padang Resturant) and had another amazing food experience.

2.4Lunch at a Padang Restaurant.

After lunch, Lisa took us to the Juang Jaya feedlot (southern Sumatra) and, again . . . wow!!! This is an extremely professional setup that is not only on a massive scale, but is really working in a holistic kind of perma-culture fashion whereby they are producing other useful, productive, and commercially viable products that help support the local community. This is great as the cattle use the waste products from the other products and then the waste products from the cattle are put back into the land in the form of fertiliser etc. This is such an environmentally sustainable system that we are looking at how we can implement some of the ideas we have picked up in our own situation on Country Downs!

On the way out of the feedlot, we stopped to have a look at another little project that is being done with the local/traditional Indonesian cow breed, the Banteng. They are such a gorgeous cattle breed, in fact we just had to stop and have a bit of a chat with them for a little while! Overall, it was an absolutely fantastic day that both Kurt and I really enjoyed. Lisa was an excellent tour guide!!!

2.5Chatting to the locals!

Monday 17th March – This was a ‘free day’ for us, so we hired a car and driver and had a look around. We went and visited a true wet market and were the centre of attention for about an hour and a half . . . I think that we were the butt of many jokes, but they were very patient with our stilted Indonesian and laughed uproariously when we would flick through the Inonesian translation booklet and still pronounce things wrong! We were eventually ‘saved’ by a lovely woman who spoke English very well, who ushered us into her shop, introduced us to her family, and then proceeded to give us their lunch, drinks etc.

2.6A pet rooster in one of the wet-market shops.

We then got the driver to find us a traditional store where Kurt could buy some ‘Parangs’ (traditional Indo scythes), so once Kurt bought about four knives, I put my foot down and we went to do something I wanted to do . . . get a massage! Once back at the hotel, we received a phone call from Lisa telling us that she had been given the okay to take us to one of their accredited abattoirs that evening at midnight to have a look at how they kill and process the beasts before heading out to the wet market.

But I will leave that story for tomorrow!!

Ciao ciao, Nikki