Indonesian “Iron Man’ Allegedly Builds Brainwave-Controlled Robotic Arm from Scrap

Wayan Sutawan is being hailed as Indonesia’s very own Iron Man after building a robotic device that he claims can read signals from his brain allowing him to control his paralyzed left arm.

This literally unbelievable story started six months ago, when Sutawan suffered a stroke that left him with a paralyzed arm. Having studied a bit of mechanical engineering in high school, the father-of-three spent the next couple of months working on a robotic arm using spare parts that were just lying around in his garage. He finally created a strap-on mechanism for his paralyzed limb connected to a headband that he claims reads his brainwaves and transmits commands.

In a video report by Indonesia’s Kompas TV, Sutawan is seen strapping the device on to his left arm and covering his left hand with a thick rubber glove. He then puts on the headband, and after a moment’s concentration, the arm miraculously jerks to life. He is then able to use the paralyzed hand to perform delicate tasks. He’s also able to lift up to 10 kilograms of weight with the device on his left arm.

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Eccentric Man Builds Giant “Chicken Church” in the Middle of Indonesian Jungle

Buried deep inside the Indonesian jungle is a very odd structure, shaped like a giant chicken. The long abandoned construction, locally known as Gereja Ayam (Chicken Church), is a popular tourist attraction in the hills of Magelang, Central Java.

Word on the internet is this strange construction was designed to be a church, but according to its creator, the building is neither a chicken nor a church. Daniel Alamsjah, 67, revealed that he was working in Jakarta when he suddenly received a divine message from God to build a prayer room in the form of a dove. “Perhaps because of my Christian faith, people thought I was building a church,” he said. “But it’s not a church. I was building a prayer house, a place for people who believe in God.”

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Indonesian Woman Puts House on the Market, Offers to Marry the Buyer

Indonesian homeowner Wina Lia has come up with an innovative strategy to find matrimonial bliss – she’s put up her house for sale and has offered to marry the buyer! 40-year-old Lia owns a two-bedroom home in Sleman, a sleepy little district near the Javanese city of Yogyakarta. The lovely house comes with a small fish pond, a spacious backyard, and of course, the chance to gain Lia’s hand in marriage.

The online ad featuring Lia’s home listed the asking price at $76,500 but also mentioned a unique bonus: “Buyers who don’t negotiate the price can ask the owner to marry (terms and conditions apply).” The ad promptly went viral, with local news agencies tracking Lia down to check if the claim was genuine. Turns out that it was.

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Trick or Truth – Thai Monk Meditates in Pot of Boiling Oil over an Open Flame

A YouTube video of a monk praying calmly in a vat of boiling oil has recently has been doing the rounds online, leaving viewers wondering how the monk can keep from screaming in agony.  Social media users were enthralled by the possibility of this Thai monk’s ability to defy physics with his ‘magic’. Unfortunately, skeptical scientists soon pointed out a few facts that pretty much ruined the illusion.

The monk, from Thailand’s Nong Bua Lamphu province, looks at ease despite sitting in a vessel of oil with a fire raging underneath. He is also seen sharing his magical powers with others by touching objects that they pass to him. His followers believe that his touch can make their amulets or pieces of fabric powerful. These objects are apparently sold to the locals and other places of worship.

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Indonesian Workshop Creates Mind-Blowing Life-Size Replicas of Popular Sports Cars Exclusively Out of Wood

This group of highly skilled Indonesian woodworkers caters exclusively to people who love collecting sports cars – both real and wooden. They carve impressive life-size replicas of popular sports car models, and their creations are routinely exported to buyers in the US, England, Germany, and other European countries. 

Their latest handiwork is a model of the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, made entirely out of teak – it doesn’t work of course, but it’s a stunning copy of the real thing. And let’s not forget – cheaper by several thousands of dollars.

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Doctors Baffled by Indonesian Woman Who Claims to Have Given Birth to Gecko Lizard

Debi Nubatonis, a woman from Oenunto village, Indonesia, has baffled doctors and scientists with her claim – she says that she went through a full-term pregnancy, only to give birth to a bouncing, healthy baby gecko lizard! We’ve heard enough of such stories to know that it’s probably a hoax, but it looks like Indonesian authorities are investigating to check if it might just be true.

Last month, at the request of the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the nearby Kupang City, a special team was dispatched to Oenunto village, where the new mother lives. “Basically, there’s something not right here,” said CMO Messe Ataupa. “We are looking into whether this was intentional or not. Clearly the womb must have been empty and this is what’s known as pseudocyesis. So the gecko coming out is probably some kind of hoax. Childbirth of another species has never been reported in science.”

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Indonesian Volcano Spews Hauntingly Beautiful Blue Lava

There are plenty of natural treasures hidden away in the most unsuspecting places on Earth. One of them is an Indonesian sulfur mine, Kawah Ijen, that produces stunning, spectral blue lava. The images of this mine are so breathtaking, I could just stare at them for hours.

Kawah Ijen is a part of the Ijen volcano complex – a group of stratovolcanoes in East Java, Indonesia – with an active crater that’s 200 meters deep. The complex is also home to the world’s largest turquoise-colored acidic lake, full of sulfuric acid. The lake is a sulfur mining site; miners carry sulfur-laden baskets by hand from the crater floor.

The miners work at night to double their meagre income, but they don’t have to worry about the dark. Kawah Ijen, an ordinary rocky crater by day, transforms into a stunning display of electric blue light at night.

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Bambu Gila – The Crazy Bamboo Dance of Maluku

Bambu Gila is a mystical ritual performed in Indonesia’s Maluku Islands, where a group of strong men struggle to control a piece of bamboo from moving around like crazy as if it were possessed by an unseen power.

The origins of Bambu Gila, or Crazy Bamboo, are unknown, but it is believed the ancient ritual was once used to induce a fearless fighting mentality before going to war. Today, the once warring tribes of Maluku live in piece and this unique tradition has been reduced to a popular tourist attraction. Preparations for Bambu Gila start with a special ceremony in which the local shamans ask permission from the spirits that still dwell in the nearby bamboo forests to cut down a log for the famous dance. Crazy bamboos are  brought from Mount Gamalama, the volcanic mountain in Ternate, Northern Maluku, where the spirits are believed to be the strongest, cut to a specific size, cleaned and rubbed with coconut oil. During the actual ritual, seven of the strongest villagers are selected to handle the bamboo which supposedly starts to move by itself and becomes increasingly heavier and more difficult to control, after a ginger-chewing shaman recites strange mantras and blows incense into it. Although it’s hard to believe there are supernatural forces at work, the performers put on quite a show that attracts thousands of visitors from all over Indonesia and beyond.

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Indonesian Villagers Beat Each Other with Rattan Brooms in the Name of Brotherhood and Friendship

Every year, a week after the end of Ramadan, the Indonesian villages of Morella and Mamala hold Pukul Sapu, a unique ritual that has men from the two villages beating each other across their bare backs with rattan broomsticks.

There’s nothing like a good beating to strengthen the bond between members of a community, at according to the people of Morella and Mamala, two villages in the Maluku province of Indonesia. Seven days after the end of Ramadan, the local young men take part in Pukul Sapu, an ancient ritual that translates as “Beating Brooms”. A fitting name, considering it involves participants hitting each other with strips of rattan across their backs until they are all covered in bloody scars. Before the actual beating begins, the men gather to receive the prayers of the village elders which are supposed to provide protection from serious injury during the proceedings. Wearing only short pants and headbands, the brave men enter the arena and split into two groups, facing each other. They then take turns in hitting each other across the back and chest with hard rattan brooms, with the one taking the beating lifting his arms into the air to proudly display his bloody wounds. This is not a mock battle, and the traces left by each lash is more than enough proof, yet the participants take the beating without so much as a flinch or cry of pain.

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The Amazing Stone Jumpers of Nias Island

Hombo Batu or Stone Jumping is an ancient ritual of Nias Island, North Sumatra, with young men leaping over stone walls over two-meters tall. The tradition was born out of inter-tribal conflicts and was once potentially deadly as the walls were covered with spikes and sharpened bamboo sticks.

Centuries ago, Nias Island was divided into several regions ruled by landlords or warlords. It was not a hereditary position, nor was it gained by force, but rather through entertainment of the masses. Whoever threw more parties known as “owasa” gained the favor of local communities and became their leader. But organizing these festive events didn’t come cheap, and the island’s landlords would constantly fight each other and use the spoils of war as funding. To start a war, they needed able brave men who had to prove their worth at drafting challenges. Becoming a soldier was a big honor for the young men of Nias and earned them a higher social status in the community, but physical attributes and weapon mastery were not enough to convince their leaders. They also had to jump over a 2.3-meter-tall stone wall without touching it. To make things even harder for candidates, the top of the obstacle was covered with spikes and sharp bamboo sticks, and the jumps often resulted in serious injuries and even deaths. According to some sources, Hombo Batu was also a way of training soldiers to jump over walls during a siege and light the enemy’s camp ablaze with torches.

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In Indonesia Professional Hitchhikers Do Drivers a Favor

Usually, it’s the drivers who help out hitchhikers by offering them a ride, but in Indonesia’s capital city, it’s the other way around. Professional hitchhikers get paid to ride in complete strangers’ cars and help them reach their destination faster.

The world’s sixth largest metropolis, Jakarta has a population of over 30 million and around 20 million registered cars. Unfortunately, its infrastructure is far less advanced than that of other large cities like New York, Tokyo or Singapore, which means traffic is terrible. In order to ease jams, authorities have created “Three in One” zones which can only be accessed by vehicles carrying at least three passengers. The measure was successful to some extent, only it also spawned a whole new industry – professional hitchhiking. Every morning, poor Indonesians from the outskirts of Jakarta can be seen lining the sidewalks near entry points to Three in One zones, offering themselves to commuters in a hurry. They are known as jockeys, and unlike regular hitchhikers, they don’t raise their thumbs up to drivers, but their index finger to signal a jockey working solo, and the extra middle finger to signal a couple, usually a mother and a baby.

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Jembatan Akar – Indonesia’s Amazing Tree Root Bridge

For the last hundred years, the residents of two tiny Indonesian villages in West Sumatra have used a 30-meter-long bridge formed from the interconnected roots of two trees located on each side of a fast-flowing river, to reach each other and trade supplies. Today, the natural wonder known as “Jembatan Akar” has become a popular tourist attraction.

According to locals the amazing tree root bridge was built in 1890, by Pakih Sohan, a Muslim teacher from Lubuak Glare, disappointed by the fact that students from Pulut-pulut couldn’t attend his classes on Islam and Quran recitations due to the Batang Bayang river that separated the two settlements. He planted two small Jawi-jawi – a type of  broad-leaf banyan tree – and started stringing their roots around a stem bridge made of bamboo. In just a few years time the two trees reached each other over the river, but the bridge wouldn’t be able to support the passing villagers’ weight for another two decades. It took approximately 26 years for Jembatan Akar to become the sturdy bridge it is today, and with each passing year, it becomes even stronger, as the banyan tree roots continue to grow.

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Breath of Fresh Air: Environmentally-Friendly Air Freshener Is Made from Cow Dung

Two Indonesian high school student have impressed judges at the national Science Project Olympiad with their ingenious air freshener made from from cow dung. Believe it or not, the organic product actually has a pleasant plant-like fragrance.

Dwi Nailul Izzah and Rintya Aprianti Miki managed to surpass 1,000 other participants at the Indonesian Science Project Olympiad (ISPO), held at the end of February, in Jakarta, and won gold medals for their original invention – an environmentally-friendly air-freshener made from cow manure. I know, that’s probably one of the last ingredients you’d expect to find in such a product, but according to the judges and everyone else who had the chance to sniff the girls’ air freshener, it has a surprisingly nice herbal fragrance. But it wasn’t just the smell that won Dwi and Rintya points. Their natural air freshener contains none of the chemicals found in similar commercially-available products, and it’s also more affordable. While a conventional 275-gram air freshener costs 39,000 Indonesian rupiah ($4), a 225-gram can of cow dung air freshener costs just $21,000 rupiah ($2). The two young inventors are getting ready to showcase their unique invention at the International Environment Project Olympiad (INEPO), in Istanbul, and are getting ready to file for a patent.

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Indonesian Tribe Believes Chiseled Teeth Make Women Beautiful

If tattooed black gums are considered a thing of beauty in West Africa, it’s chiseled, pointy-sharp teeth that’s the ‘in thing’ for some Indonesian tribes. I do wonder though, why it’s always the women who have to subject themselves to bizarre beauty rituals.

Well, we may not be able to answer that question any time soon, but we can tell you about Indonesian tooth-filing, a beauty regimen that involves the sawing of teeth until they achieve a sharp, narrow and pointed shape. Women in some Indonesian rural communities are considered extremely beautiful after they’ve undergone such a treatment. Mantawaian is one such village, where the wife of the village chief, Pilongi, had to go through with it a couple of years ago. She had managed to avoid the ritual when she was a young teenager, but as the wife of a powerful man in the village, she had to oblige him by becoming more beautiful.

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Style Oddities – Fake Braces Worn as Fashion Accessories

It’s at times like this that I simply don’t understand fashion trends. I mean, what would prompt otherwise normal teenagers to consider something as horrendous as braces to be a fashionable accessories? Don’t get me wrong, I think braces are an extremely useful dental tool and I used to wear them as well, but I always dreamt of the day I would be done with them forever. Kids in countries like Thailand, Indonesia and China, however, think very differently. For them, braces have become a huge teenage fashion statement.

As unfathomable as the trend sounds, there’s actually a reason behind it. Just as ‘plump’ people were thought to be attractive at one point – as a sign of prosperity – braces to the Asian kids are a sign of wealth, status and style. The reason: genuine orthodontic braces are quite expensive. A set of braces in Bangkok would set you back about $1,200. So all the kids want to wear what the rich kids are wearing. Braces are also popular among young celebrities and youth icons like Indonesian heartthrob Andika Kangen and Thai pop singer Earn the Star. Many Thai and Indonesian websites display pictures of Gwen Stefani sporting braces back in the 90s. Apparently, she had recently confessed that her braces were a ‘fashion choice’, and she’s since become an instant hit with Asian kids. The internet is littered with countless blogs and websites on fashion braces. I tried googling them and found that braces are available in an explosion of colors and varieties.

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