It has nothing to do with money and modernisation, and definitely not because Indonesia is a second, and parts of it even third world country. It’s about tradition & culture –Values are as thick as blood.
Clichés about Indonesians: Why Do Indonesians do what they do?
THEY ALL LIVE TOGETHER UNDER ONE ROOF
Meet the locals! The first cliché that is also quite true is that Indonesians hold on to family. In the western world we become ‘free’ in the age of 18 – In Indonesia you stay with your family until you get married. Even after marriage it is not unusual to stay with the family – You don’t marry a single person – you get married to a family! It is absolutely clear that your parents are taking care of you when you are a child and in return you give them back he same once they get old – on and on! Did you ever see a retirement house in Indonesia? Family stays together from birth to death through all generations.
THEY ARE ALWAYS HAPPY, SMILING AND A BIT NAIVE!
Bali, also known as the islands of gods is Hindu. Am I risking possession when stepping on an offering? People believe in karma and therefore of course they are very caring and giving. Also being open-minded and welcoming everybody with a ‘Hi, how are you?’ does not mean they want to hit on you or sell you something (well, yes sometimes this is the purpose!) – most of the time they are just kind. ‘Terima kasih’ (thank you in Indonesian) means literary ‘receive love’. This explains lot already!
EATING WITH HANDS
Different countries – different eating habits. Chinese prefer chopsticks, western countries use a knife and a fork and Indonesians use the right hand. Back in the old days the left hand was used for the ‘toilet stuff’. Using the fingers enhances the food experience! It isn’t dirty, it is super fun and easy: Try it! How to do it? By pinch all your five fingers together, and use it like a clam for the food, bring them close to your mouth and, ta-da you eat like local now. Check out Bali’s Street Food!
THEY ONLY EAT ‘NASI’ (= RICE) ALL DAY LONG
Well, that’s true. No meal works without rice. Though, rice isn’t only for the poor, they are in love with rice! It is cheap, it is growing everywhere and it always has been there for everybody. It is filling you up and has good carbs and it simply tastes good with everything: Sweet & savoury. Try Bali’s Street Food & eat like a local!
INDONESIANS LOVE TO SIT ON THE FLOOR
Not because they cannot afford tables and chairs. One reason is the temperature – If it is hot outside it is very refreshing to sit down on the ceramic floor and cool down. Sitting on the floor also becomes a thing when you are invited to a family celebration: Just spread the rug, put the snack or drinks in the middle and let the crowd make a circle. In this way, none will feel excluded and everybody will have an equal position to one another. Also if there is an issue, which needs to be discussed, they use the principle called ‘musyawarah’, which means going through the problem without emotion while sitting on the floor.
ADVENTURES ON INDONESIAN TOILETS
Flushing with water from a bucket, using a butt shower instead of toilet paper (because there simply is none!) and managing all of that while squatting, trying not to mark your own leg – Welcome to Indonesia! But after you get used to it, it all makes sense! Did you know that sitting in a squat is healthy for your back? Also the bucket aka toilet flush can be used as a shower – 2 in 1! Water pressure very often is an issue in Indonesia. Instead of washing your shampoo off with a couple of water drops, a bucket shower is actually really refreshing and helps to use the water wisely. Even though Indonesia is surrounded by water, the water system isn’t as developed as in the west. Holy science!
THE ROLE OF THE WOMAN
Women in Bali are not only taking care of the household and the children – they are true all-rounders: They work hard, take care of the ceremony preparation and take on all the responsibility. The chances for job possibilities are very equal for men and women in Bali. There is no such rule that says that women have to stay at home and do the household. Learn more about Balinese believes and myths!
EVERYTHING IS SLOW AND PEOPLE ARE LAZY
Things on an island aren’t as quick as in vibrant cities. So this isn’t just a Bali, it’s an island thing. Of course people at the beach are relaxed, the tourists as well as the locals. Once you go into a city like Denpasar you will see the similar stress like in other busy cities. It is not just all about relaxing and doing nothing – It’s the opposite. Most companies have a six-day working week, or even seven.
Eating with hands:
It isn’t dirty, it is super fun and easy.
Different countries – different eating habits. Chinese prefer chopsticks, western countries use a knife and a fork and Indonesians use the right hand. Back in the old days the left hand was used for the ‘toilet stuff’. Using your fingers enhances the food experience!
It isn’t dirty, it is super fun and easy: Try it! How to do it?
Pinch all your five fingers together, and use it like a clamp for the food, bring them close to your mouth and, ta-da you eat like local and try the street food in Bali.
We are all full of shit!
The world is full of clichés and stereotypes! Some of them are true but in general they shouldn’t be taken too serious. Don’t judge by your first impressions; simply think twice when observing the fascinating cultures all over Indonesia! Do you think Everything was better in the old days?