I've just returned from an amazing trip to Indonesia (I went to Bali, the Gili Islands and Lombok), which turned out to be a great Paleo adventure. As a “developing Country” I was surprised how many differences I noticed compared to how things are done here, in the “developed” World. The surprising thing was how many of these differences actually seemed far better in Indonesia. Perhaps being “developed” in not such a good thing after all?
Pregnancy, babies and children in Indonesia
I spent all of my time in small villages, completely off the tourist track. In all of my time, I did not see a single pram/ pushchair/ stroller (whatever you like to call it!). Babies too young to walk were tied to their mothers side by a piece of material and their weight supported by the mothers arm. Whilst pavements aren't suitable for pushchairs (thanks to lots of open drainage holes), this does seem to be a far more sensible way of transporting a baby around, don’t you think?
In the “developed” world you always see mothers distractedly pushing along a pram. Often the pram is completely covered by a rain protector and you can’t even see the infant. The mother is busy chatting on her phone or rushing to her destination. I can’t help but wonder how much better it is for the Indonesian babies, who are constantly in physical contact with their family.
Whilst I don’t doubt a pram is very convenient and get for carrying shopping bags, is it best for the baby? I also regularly see rather old toddlers being pushed around, when surely they should be encouraged to walk.
The other striking difference I noticed was that the Indonesian children were given far more freedom then their counterparts in the developed World. They seemed to have a lot more free reign to explore, without being permanently attached to the apron strings.
I was impressed to see one young mother weaning her baby, by chewing up food herself, before feeding it to her baby. I didn't see a steriliser, jar of baby food, blender or piece of cutlery involved!
I had the opportunity to visit a maternity clinic, which has been set up as a charitable foundation and is supported by volunteers. Compared to a harshly light, sterile busy Western maternity ward, this clinic was far more homely and open planned. In the typical Indonesian style, the delivery rooms were all open at the top of the walls, allowing air (and noise!) to circulate freely. I was interested to hear that women in Indonesia are typically very quiet in delivery, rarely have drugs (epidurals and the like aren't available in the particular clinic I visited) and “100% of women breastfeed”.
The other big contract was around teeth and face shape. Almost all of the locals I met had wide faces and the most beautiful teeth I've seen outside of Hollywood. Their teeth were naturally straight, with no crowding – and they were also very white. With a Weston A Price perspective, it seems clear how the right diet helps to form a proper shaped palate – and good teeth.
Food in Indonesia
For my whole trip I ate local (I’ll tell you more about the food in Indonesia in a future post). Everything the locals eat can typically be found within a few minutes walk of their home. Most families have a plot of land on which they grow rice for their family and perhaps a few other things. There were chickens everywhere and local markets in most villages for everything else. There are (or course) some Western snacks, but these didn't seem to purchased by the locals at all – and certainly weren't in the types of quantities we see in the Western world.
Happiness and Family
Another key observation was that everyone seemed happy, with very little stress! People would work hard to get food (i.e. on the rice paddies), but then they would also spend a lot of time sitting in the shade with their family, chatting. How many people get to do that in the developed world?
Oh – and you know some people say women shouldn't lift heavy weights? Try telling the Indonesian women that!
What do you think about how they do things in Indonesia? Do you think we’re too developed?