Think Abroad: Indonesian Day

Arts & Culture

31 maart 2019
Auteur(s): Nahdah Sholihah
What comes to your mind when you hear “Indonesia”?

by Nara

Arts & Culture Editor

If “Indomie” or “Bali” are among your first thoughts then chances are you’re familiar with the country. In Pangea on March 19th 2019, there was an event that showcased Indonesian culture: Indonesian Day. If you missed it, this article will help you get to know a bit more about this wonderful, sprawling, tropical island.

Indonesia is the largest tropical island country, with over 17,500 islands. It’s in South East Asia, just next to Australia - approximately 11,500 km away from Belgium. Being located so far away from Belgium, it might make you think there’s nothing about Indonesia here, but Belgium is just next to the Netherlands. Indonesia and the Netherlands have a long history that dates way back to the 16th century thanks to colonization. So even though the Indonesian presence here is not as much as it is in the Netherlands, it is not hard to encounter.

The ‘Indonesian Day’ event was arranged by the Indonesian Students Association (PPI) Leuven. With current members surpassing 50, it’s not just  a place where Indonesian students get to interact with each other, share, and reminiscence about their country; they also actively create events which promotes Indonesia to those who wants to know Indonesia.

They successfully took over Pangaea during Indonesian Day. Here are the things the students could get to know when they visited Pangaea that day:


A topic that everyone loves and which Indonesians excel in.

Indonesian food has a rich flavour and is often mouth-watering and delicious because Indonesia has all kinds of spices (The tropical island was literally called “Spice Islands” by the Europeans during colonization). To add more kicks to the dish, they are often hot and spicy.

It is easy to get Indonesian food, it’s even available and ready to eat in any supermarket chain like Delhaize, Carrefour, and Colruyt. Search for ‘nasi goreng’ and ‘bami goreng’, familiar isn’t it?

‘Indomie’ is available inside many r Asian instant noodles in any Asian store, it costs less than 50 cents, if you haven’t tried it than you’re missing out the food that saves many lives of students around the world.

On Indonesian Day, students got to taste authentic Indonesian dishes:

From left to right: Nasi Kucing, Sate and Bakso

Photo courtesy: PPI Leuven (Nasi Kucing), Nara / The Voice (Sate and Bakso)

Nasi Kucing

If there’s ‘nasi’ there’s rice in it. Yes, ‘Nasi’ is Indonesian for rice. ‘Kucing’ means cat. So does this mean this rice contains cat? Or is this rice meant for cats? Before jumping to silly conclusions, both are incorrect. Why does it have the name cat in it when it’s not related to cats? This is because of the small portion and since it’s meant to be practical, cats are cute as well . In Indonesia, Nasi Kucing is served in street vendors called Angkringan,it’s cheap and affordable for everyone who wants a complete meal. Yes, despite its small portion, its complete with omelette, dried fish, chilli sauce and salad. It is wrapped together with banana leaf. Imagine  Japanese rice balls, but wrapped in banana leaf and with a much more satisfactory taste, great for getting rid of hunger.


A much more popular dish is ‘Sate’, in English the word is Satay. It is a skewer dish that can use any meat. In this event it is chicken, and mushroom so that vegetarians are not missing out. It is grilled and then poured with sweet peanut sauce. It is accompanied with ‘lontong’. Like many other Asian nations, Indonesia has many variation of rice, ‘lontong’ is one of them. It is wrapped in banana leaf shaped-like-cylinder when it is still a grain, so once it’s boiled it is filled to that  shape.


It is a popular meatball soup in Indonesia. It is popularly sold by pushcarts street vendors. Indonesians love to call these street vendors when they pass their homes, and buy bakso and enjoy the meal with their entire family. It is served during wedding receptions and any gala involving food due to its practicality in its making, it  can serve a lot of people. It consists of meatballs, noodles, vegetables and tofu. It has a umami flavour, so don’t be surprised when you can’t get enough of this soup.


Before getting more carried away with the food. There were also dance performances. Among the dances performed were:

Bali Dance (left), Lancang Kuning Dance with visitors (right)

Photo courtesy: PPI Leuven (left), Nara / The Voice (right)

Bali Dance

Balinese dance is from the beautiful rich culture ‘Island of Gods’ Bali. The dancer wears intricate ornaments and the dance is dynamic and expressive. There are several variants of balinese dance. One of them performed here is Legong Dance. It is a dance that told stories and legends. The most common is the tale of the King of Lasem from the Malat, this is a collection of heroic romances.

Lancang Kuning Dance

Originating from the Islands of Riau, it is in the western part of Indonesia and was the center piece of Malay culture. Lancang means sail and kuning means yellow. The dancer raises a yellow veil around  their movements. During the event, visitors were taught about this dance.


Photo: Nara / The Voice


Angklung is a traditional Indonesian musical instrument that is made of bamboo pipes and rattan chords. This simple yet intricate instrument surprisingly can produce sound.  It is an idiophone which the substance (in this case, bamboo) that constitutes that the instrument is producing the sound. Each single piece (with two tubes) represents one pitch or sound. So in order to create  harmonious music, they have to be played together like an ensemble or orchestra. But, unlike posh classical orchestra, it doesn’t require musical knowledge to play it. Playing angklung is so easy, it just needs to be shaken. You just shake it when it is your turn (or when the instructor points at you). Anybody can play angklung, even kids. That’s why during the angklung show in the event, it was an interactive session where all the audience was invited to play.

What else happened during Indonesian day?

Photo courtesy: Nara / The Voice

The Mayor of Leuven, Mohamed Ridouani and the Indonesian Ambassador of Belgium, Yuri Octavian Thamrin, were also present during the event! The Mayor praised the diversity in Indonesia and how he wanted everyone to feel welcome in Leuven, and mentioned how  Leuven should be an open and more diverse society. The ambassador talked about how Indonesian students contribute to diplomacy by introducing Indonesian culture (left).

There was also a talk show about digital comic arts, so not leaving out the modern culture, with two popular comic artists representing the two countries. Sheila from Indonesia, and Nix from Belgium (right).

More facts about Indonesia 

Indonesians are mostly outgoing and friendly people. They're modest and content, but unlike their Dutch counterparts Indonesians are most likely to express their discontent about you behind your back. The Indonesian official language is Bahasa Indonesia, unlike the rest of the 700 regional languages in Indonesia, it has Dutch influence due to colonial ties. Here are some examples of the words that mean and sound the same (even the ones written differently) in both Indonesian and Dutch. Gratis (NL/ID) - Free (EN). Kantoor (NL) - Kantor (ID) - Office (EN). Te Laat (NL) - Telat (ID) - Late (EN). Wortel (NL/ID) - Carrots (EN). Tas (NL/ID) - Bag (EN).  In Bahasa Indonesia what you read is what you say, it is simple and doesn’t require tone or accent. So, if you’re currently learning Dutch, it wouldn’t be hard to learn Indonesian as well.