And I was suddenly very aware of how completely I had absorbed indigenous Indonesians' stereotypes about the babahs, as Chinese traders are sometimes called, though never politely.  All Chinese are canny businesspeople, the stereotype holds, hard-working and deeply clannish. Though they are generous in supporting their own kind, they are always willing to wring an extra rupiah out of an indigenous Indonesian. As a result, they grow rich.</p>

'I worked for the babahs for years', said an Indonesian businessman I had met earlier on my travels, in eastern Indonesia. 'I watched, I learned. Especially, I learned to work hard.' In the end, though, he felt there was a vacuum at the centre of their lives. ‘Everything is only for money, money, money. From morning to night, money, money, money. Eat, money, sleep, money, die. But in the end, I wonder what for?'</p>