Hi ,

Greetings from Bali, Indonesia

A million miles away fro Brexit Britain, but very much on all minds right now.

Of course this is one of my favorite places, and I'm here with Tomas our marketing wizard.
Last week I was telling you about visiting the children's home in India we support for a cup of tea, and how that went.. you can read about it here.
Since then I have caught the night flight to Kuala Lumpa, met up with Tomas flown to Semerang, Indonesia on the island of Java.

Semerang is a fast developing port city, it is from here that containers of products from the central Java area are loaded on to container ships and sent via Singapore to the rest of the world.
It is also the entry point of raw materials such as teak and other timber from Kalimantan the vast island to the north, you may better know as Borneo.

Two and a half hours drive from Semerang is a trade secret. There is place that I first heard about five years ago, Ringo our man in Indonesia told me about it, at trade shows in India I have heard the name muttered, and I have long wanted to visit.
Importers that know about it (much like Yiwu in China a few years ago) like to keep it secret, they don't reveal their sources... but you know at Ancient Wisdom we are open and I'm going of course going to tell you about the city of Jepara.

The City of Jepara
You probably touch products that came from Jepara everyday, you may sleep on one, sit on one, work on one. If you have any garden furniture than it almost certainly came from here. Jepara is the worlds biggest manufacturer of garden furniture.
The hard woods - all strictly controlled - from Borneo and Java make long lasting quality furniture and the industrious people of Java have developed a remarkable business out of it.
Japara town centre is all showrooms of every kind of furniture, there is one street that is pretty much like Ubud with handicraft gift products all for export, but head to the outskirts of the town and vast hanger like factories sprawl for miles. We went to visit a few to get a feel for the furniture market. I'm not sure what I expected to see, but we have seen super organised well run factories with hundreds of workers well equipped and in great working conditions beavering away producing every kind of furniture.
Everything from super ornate French style to pared down minimalist Japanese. We visited one factory that can and does produce 30 40ft container loads a week for shipping to B&Q and Walmart.
And the workers are multi ethnic, mostly Javanese Muslim - ladies in hijabs deftly making tables, alongside ethnically chinese and also Christian Javanese. There are Mosques and Churches and Buddhist temples here. And the bosses - well you might find it surprising - but many are ladies, the ladies are organized and big thinking here.


There is one business hotel grandly names the Jepara International Hotel. We went and it looked like it seen better days to say the least. Our driver a big jolly Christian guy from Semerang called Roberto, told us that most buyers prefered to stay by the sea in the newly established tourist zone very nearby. So we went and found what was basically a wedding and conference hotel it was nice and I can tell you that at Muslim weddings here they love Ed Sheeran songs.

Roberto was hilarious, he was delighted and excited to have foreign customers and we invited him to join us meals at which he spent most of the time taking pictures for his facebook page.


Google Jepara and most of the pictures feature a giant house sized turtle. Where is the turtle? we kept asking, but during our few days there whizzing around we never found it. Last day after we finished work we asked Roberto about it.. no problem, turns out it is inside an amusement park built to attract tourists, so before we left of course we had to go to take selfies with the worlds biggest turtle!

Now we are in Bali.
I'll update you next week.

Take care.



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