Backpacking during Ramadan

Chris and I are on the Indonesian island of Sumatra where almost 90 percent of people are Muslim.   The Islamic month of fasting, Ramadan, began on August 1st. While Chris and I are not Muslim, our backpacking lives have been changed by Ramadan.

During Ramadan Muslims fast from sunrise to sundown refraining from all food, beverages, and smoking.  Muslims consider the fasting period to be a time for self reflection, centering oneself on faith, and a time to purify your body and thoughts.

Many parts of Sumatra are under sharia law which governs based on Muslim principles.  This means that if a restaurant is open during daylight during Ramadan the police have the right to come into the restaurant, confiscate the food, and shut down the restaurant.  The exception to this rule is "Tourist Only" restaurants that serve only to forgeiners.  Finding these "Toursist Only" restaurants can be a pain, but I would much rather eat lunch than fast all day.  At times Chris and I have resorted to buying food a the grocery store and eating in our room. 

While in no way is it illegal for us to eat during the day it is considered disrepectful to publicly eat or drink during fasting times.

 Even though no one is eating during the day during Ramadan there is definitely thoughts of food.  In the afternoons amazing markets filled with prepared foods open for Muslims who take food to go and wait until the sun is down.

These markets are packed with local people buying food of every kind. (Please excuse the picture quality, something happened during the very long uploading)

Notice that almost all of the women are in head scarves, long pants or skirts, and  heavy shirts despite the 80 degree weather.

These containers hold all different, and usually unidentifably (at least to us), foods.  The woman is scooping an egg filled sausage into the bag to which she added spicy vegetables and sauce. 

This fried food stand had delicious freshly fried corn fritters.  They were like hush puppies on crack.

 Let's be honest, none of this would ever hold up to American food safety standards, but I think that's probably a longer discussion for another time.

 Chips! Chips! Chips!  These chips are made from tapioka roots, not potatoes. However, they taste almost exactly like potato chips.

I do have to confess that our eyes were a little bit bigger than our stomachs and we took home a feast of delicious food.

These corn fritters where by far our favorite and I will definitely try to make them on my own.  Now that I know these exist I don't want to ever live without them again.

 And of course we had dessert! There are coconut rice cakes with banana, chocolate, and banana and chocolate.  Hey, I told you we over bought!

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