Synopsis: Bourdain begins his trip through Indonesia by eating spicy Padang food in Jakarta with a performer who uses shadow puppets to tell folktales about finding balance between opposing forces—dark and light, good and evil—an ever-present idea in Indonesian culture. As he travels throughout the country, Bourdain learns about the nation’s ethnic and culinary diversity and how it reconciles its violent history with its democratic present. In Bali, Bourdain confronts Indonesia’s Eat Pray Love–inspired tourism industry and observes a traditional Balinese funeral.

On the U.S. support for Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto:

Bourdain: “Henry Kissinger and a penguin walk into a bar. I’m not asking what you’d do, but would it displease you if I walked over and punched Henry Kissinger in the face? Would you find that entertaining?”

American correspondent: “You hate Henry Kissinger!”

Bourdain: “I f***ing hate him, yeah. Because in my travels I’ve stumbled upon his good works everywhere I go.”

On Bali tourism:

“So this too is Bali, I guess. Or it is now. Thank you Jimmy Buffett for taking a big dump on the world.”

“By weight, how much human waste is generated by your average person on vacation? Look around you. Do the math. I want a water sample. I’m telling ya, the fecal coliform count is gonna be interesting. I’m sure there’s a metaphor here.”

On the afterlife:

“What actually happens to my physical remains is of zero interest to me unless it can provide entertainment value. Throw me in a wood chipper and spray me into Harrods at the middle of rush hour. That would be pretty epic.”

Guests weigh in:

Dadang puppeteer’s translator (on Indonesian food): “They say that if you really wanted to try every dish in Indonesia, you’d have to stay here for 40 years. You need to stay here for a long time because every single area has its own specialty.”

American correspondent in Jakarta: “I’ve always called it a microcosm of all the good and bad in the world because Indonesia has everything—democracy, it has pollution, it has environmental degradation, it’s got human-rights abuses. There’s a lot of problems here, but one of the great things going on are these elections are free and fair and everyone knows it.”

Yoga instructor (on the effect of tourism in Bali): “Is the tourism bad? Yes, it has its bad side. Is the tourism good? Yes, of course, right? What is Bali? What is Bali history? What is Bali culture? What part of this could be supported by the people who come to Bali? What kind of people do we want to come to Bali?”

Photos by ZPZ Production.
Photos by ZPZ Production.
Photos by ZPZ Production.

Eat like Bourdain: Indonesia

Rumah Makan Surya


Bourdain ate: fried lungs, intestine goulash, deep-fried fat and skin
Lunch date: Indonesian dadang puppeteer and his translator

Nusa Penida (island that was formerly a penal colony)

Nusapenida, Klungkung Regency, Bali

Bourdain ate: lobster
Lunch date: unnamed anthropologist