10 Sen Note, 1964

Something I thought about the other day, when looking for more detail about my Indonesian 10 sen note, dated 1964: Why aren’t there prizes in cereal boxes any more?

This article at a site called Extra Crispy offers a plausible answer: kids wouldn’t respond to them any more. Entertainment for children has become more sophisticated, you might say. A more cynical take would be that if it isn’t an electronic three-ring circus, kids will be bored.

I wondered that because I read an entry posted by “Man” at a blog called Coined for Money that discusses the 10 sen note. Man asserts (all sic): “Taking a quick break from U.S. notes to talk about my oldest foreign note. I got this from a Cheerios box back in the 1980s when they had a special in box promotion.Cheerios has been doing this for year in the 1950s they had replica confederate money and the most famous is the Sacagewea coins from the 2000s.”

Interesting. I’ve confirmed that General Mills did give away Confederate money reproductions in Cheerios boxes in 1954 — one of those details that shows that some things do change — and Lincoln cents and a few hundred Sacagaweas in 2000.

But I didn’t acquire my note in the 1980s. I don’t remember when I got it, but it was at least as long ago as 1970. It’s one of the first, maybe the first, of the foreign banknotes in my possession. I found it fascinating as a kid. I still find it interesting: a relic, however minor, of Year of Living Dangerously Indonesia. (Book and movie both recommended.)

Could be that Cheerios boxes offered cheap foreign notes as premiums in the late 1960s. That’s plausible, since even then, 10 sen notes were worthless.

To cite Wiki on the 1960s Indonesian rupiah (which even now is technically divided into 100 sen): “The hyperinflation of the early 1960s resulted in the pronouncement of the ‘new rupiah’ supposedly worth 1,000 of the old rupiah.

“The withdrawal of the old money meant the issue of an entirely new set of banknotes, by Presidential decree of 13 December 1965. The decree authorised Bank Indonesia to issue fractional notes for the first time (although the 1 and 2½ rupiah notes were still issued by the government itself), in denominations of 1, 5, 10, 25, and 50 sen showing ‘Volunteers’, dated 1964.

“Due to the fact that the rupiah was only devalued about 10, rather than 1000 times, they were worthless on issue, and many millions of notes never entered circulation.”

Perhaps someone at General Mills’ ad agency got wind of the fact that countless thousands of 10 sen notes could be had for very little real money, and included them in the promotion. And for all I know, the company had so many that it could do it again in the ’80s.

Bali 1994

I hope Bali is as pleasant as it was 20-odd years ago. You go for its many charms, and so do a lot of other people. Yet somehow the island holds its crowds well.

Though serving an economic purpose, the Tegallalang Rice Terraces near Ubud, created using a longtime cooperative irrigation system, are pleasing enough to attract outsiders such as us.

Bali 1994

Plenty of people go to Goa Gajah, “Elephant Cave.”

Bali 1994

As well as the Ubud Monkey Forest.

Monkey Forest Bali 1994

I carelessly didn’t write the name of this temple on the photo, but I like it.

Bali 1994

Not nearly as many people spend time by the ocean at Candi Dasa, with its rocky beaches. But we enjoyed the place.

Candi Dasa Bali 1994

Lying around near the beach wasn’t the best part of staying at a room at Candi Dasa. Much better was listening to the crash of the ocean at night just outside your room, as a cool ocean breeze blew through. It was even better when the wind and rain kicked up, as it did a few times. Some of the lesser-commented pleasures of Bali are its many aural treats, and not just the ocean.

Nata de Coco Thursday

Picked up Lilly last night where the bus from UIUC dropped her off, near a northwest suburban mall. Fortunately I was there more-or-less on time, so she didn’t have to spend much time out in the bitter wind, because the drop-off point is simply a parking lot. Not a good night to be outside.

Driving home, we did have the pleasure of hearing “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” by chance on the radio. I like to hear that exactly once every Christmas season. No more than that.

Here’s the packaging from Jubes brand nata de coco. Jubes, we figure, is a portmanteau of “juicy cubes.”


To save a trip to Wiki: “Nata de coco is a chewy, translucent, jelly-like food produced by the fermentation of coconut water, which gels through the production of microbial cellulose by Acetobacter xylinum. Originating in the Philippines, nata de coco is most commonly sweetened as a candy or dessert, and can accompany a variety of foods, including pickles, drinks, ice cream, puddings, and fruit mixes.”

It’s a product of Pt. Keong Nusantara Abadi, located in Lampung Selatan, Indonesia. I had to look that up. It’s on the southern end of Sumatra. I can’t think of anything else imported from Sumatra, at least in my house.

The marketing text, especially the last line, has a Japlish flavor. This Grape flavored JUBES is for those who favour gentle & refreshing taste. But for all I know, that’s Bahasa-lish as well.

Nata de coco is popular in Japan. Some years ago, Yuriko was eating some and Ann wanted to try it. Then she wanted the whole bowl. She’s been fond of it since. At some point I tried it too. It isn’t bad, but it’s probably one of those foods best discovered as a child for a deep appreciation.


Yogyakarta is a city on Java than few North Americans ever seem to have heard of. But I won’t use that as evidence of any egregious geographic ignorance on the part of Americans, though in fact we aren’t known for that kind of knowledge. After all, how many Javanese, do you suppose, have heard of Memphis, Indianapolis or Kansas City?

We went there in August 1994. One important reason for going to Yogyakarta was that Borobudur and Prambanan were located nearby; in fact, they were reason enough to go. But the town itself also featured some other sites of interest, such as the Kraton of Yogyakarta, a palace complex that also featured a museum, as well as some interesting ruins whose name escapes me, and a few other places in town.

One day we witnessed a large parade through the heart of town, or would have, had the authorities had any notion of keeping the street clear. As it was, the street filled completely with people, and the parade — a lot of men on horseback, as I recall — had to push its way through the throng. This got tiresome pretty fast, so we didn’t stay long.

Then there was the time we were walking down the curiously named Malioboro Street (Jalan Malioboro), which is a major shopping street, past a lot of shop stalls and booths. As I walked past one vendor, a man perhaps about my age at the time, he said, “Keep smiling, friend. I kill you.” Maybe he was just tired of tourists, who so obviously could afford his wares, wandering by without buying anything. Or maybe his psychosis was deeper. We didn’t go that way again.

He was the only bit of hostility that we encountered, however fleeting. On the other end of the spectrum, a couple of teenaged Javanese girls buttonholed me on the street one afternoon, and wanted me to pose with them for a picture. Maybe I had novelty value. So I posed.

Another fragment of memory from Yogyakarta: sometime before dawn one morning, a rooster woke me up, because, cartoons notwithstanding, roosters crow whenever they feel like it. I lay awake for a while, and then off in the distance, I heard what must have been the pre-dawn call to prayers. Unfamiliar, mesmerizing, reminding me that I was somewhere else.

One evening, we had got a wonderful chance to enjoy Ramayana ballet at the Ramayana Open Theatre Prambanan.

IndoDanceIt’s something tourists do. Some people might sneer at that reflexively, but they’d be thoughtless. I’m glad that Ramayana ballet has some audience. I don’t, however, remember much about it now, except for a notion of colorful costumes and stylized movement.

Prambanan 1994

Candi Prambanan, or Candi Rara Jonggrang, is a 9th-century Hindu temple compound near Yogyakarta in central Java, though it had lain in ruins for centuries before reconstruction in the 20th century. UNESCO asserts that “the temples collapsed due to earthquake, volcanic eruption and a shift of political power in the early 11th century, and they were rediscovered in the 17th century. These compounds have never been displaced or changed.

“Restoration works have been conducted since 1918, both in original traditional method of interlocking stone and modern methods using concrete to strengthen the temple structure. Even though extensive restoration works have been done in the past and as recently as after the 2006 earthquake, great care has been taken to retain the authenticity of the structures.”

Candi PrambananMy snapshots hardly do the structures justice. We visited in the mid-morning of August 11, 1994, after seeing Borobudur earlier that morning. The increasing tropical heat made the temple compound a little harder to appreciate than Borobudur, but it was impressive all the same.

More from UNESCO (the compound became a World Heritage Site in 1991): “Prambanan, named after the village, is the biggest temple complex in Java. It is actually a huge Hindu temple complex… Dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities, this temple with its decorated reliefs is an outstanding example of Siva art in Indonesia and the region.

“It was built in the 9th century and designed as three concentric squares. In all there are 224 temples in the entire complex. The inner square contains 16 temples, the most significant being the 47 m high central Siva temple flanked to the north by the Brahma temple and to the south by the Vishnu temple. These three ancient masterpieces of Hindu architecture are locally referred to as the Prambanan Temple or Lorojonggrang Temple (Slender Maiden); the compound was deserted soon after it was completed, possibly owing to the eruption of nearby Mount Merapi [volcanoes are always a risk on Java].”

img127 adjLooking at it, I’m glad that Indonesia hasn’t spawned as much religious extremism as some other parts of the world. This is the kind of place that ISIS and Taliban barbarians would dynamite.

Mighty Toba

I don’t ever remember getting off from school on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but this year both girls are off tomorrow. Yuriko has to work, and I have things to do too. But it seems like a good day to knock off posting. Back on November 30 or so.

The ground is frozen and ice has already almost slipped me up. Last winter started like this, and about at the same time, and we all know how that turned out. Harsh enough to contribute to a temporary contraction of the US economy. But at least we didn’t have a Year Without a Summer to follow it up.

The eruption of Mt. Tambora’s credited with making 1816 so cold, or at least contributing mightily to the condition. Which reminds me of a book I saw in my elementary school library that had a graphic illustration of volcanic eruptions. The larger the drawing of the volcano and its plume of gas, the bigger the eruption.

Various famous eruptions were charted, including Vesuvius (Pompeii fascinated me in the fifth or sixth grade) and Krakatoa, which I heard of because of bad TV. Tambora was bigger than all of those, but Mt. Toba was the enormous monster of the page. Something like this illustration.

Nobody had ever heard Tambora or Toba, and information about them was hard to come by, at least in a pre-Internet elementary school library. That only added to the allure of the events: that much bigger than Krakatoa? Wow.

Item From the Past: Lombok

Not long ago I saw the first 15 minutes or so of Hercules in New York, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s first movie. I soon decided that I didn’t need to see any more, for the usual reasons (life’s too short, who’s going to give me those 91 minutes back?, etc.) In the age of YouTube, watching all of a bad movie isn’t necessary anyway, because you can watch the likes of this.

If you’re interested in a fittingly puerile review of the movie, there’s always this.

According to the imdb, the movie was made in 1969, released in early 1970. I wonder if anyone watching the movie in the theater had any inkling that the muscleman on the screen would ever be, say, the governor of a major U.S. state. Of course they didn’t.

Lombok was an interesting place. Drier than Bali, but still fairly green. This view near the town of Kuta, on the south coast of the island, shows the greenery.

We arrived on July 31, 1994, and stayed a few days. One of the persistent clichés about the island was that it’s “not as spoiled” as Bali, which wasn’t remotely spoiled, as in ruined by its popularity. Bali shrugs its lovely shoulders and the visitors pass through.

Still, that sentiment was in guidebook print, and I heard people talk that way, including one woman who was persuaded that the further east you traveled in the Lesser Sunda – Lombok, Sumbawa, Flores, and so on. — the better. I couldn’t say for sure, since we didn’t make it any further east than Lombok. But maybe she was just romanticizing poverty.