Some things they don’t tell you about Indonesia

Before I got to Jakarta I did some research, because even though I like to just go somewhere without preparation, I also wanted to know what to expect of the next five months of my life.

So I googled, like any good college student learned how to do. I found a lot of different things that people either warn about or are very excited about. I will list some examples:

  • They tell you people will rip you off. And even though that may be true a little, everything is still so cheap that it doesn’t really matter. Let the nice man with a smile that charges you 30 cents above the rate for the locals have his extra money and eat for two days.
  • They warn you about the different toilets. You will do a lot of squatting and you better bring tissues with you everywhere! Well, this is probably true in the more rural part of Indonesia, but in Jakarta there are a lot of western toilets and a lot of times they even have toilet paper. However, the tip to keep tissues at hand all time should never be disregarded.
  • I’ve read about the friendly Indonesian people, but even though I was a little prepared, I never could have braced myself for the heartwarming smiles I receive everywhere and the offer to help me when I need it from everyone around. It is just something you have to experience, because even if I would tell you now, you would not be able to imagine it to the full extent.
  • A lot of sites mention that the food is so good, but because I mostly eat vegan, I was still a little worried about that. But now I found all the good dishes and there are a lot of vegan options here too.
  • Although, there are also a lot of warnings about the streetfood. It could make you sick and puking all day would seriously ruin your trip.
  • You learn online that a bule is something of an attraction here and so when walking around, you can feel like a famous person. Also, this is something you really need to experience to understand. It can make you really self-conscious, but no worries. Immunity will soon kick in. I guess they never heard of the resistance you can get to certain things when you get too much of it.

So with all this information, I was a little prepared. But here are some of my own findings, that I would not have expected here. Things that people don’t tell you about Indonesia.

  • There are ants everywhere. I was afraid to find a lot of gekko’s and/or cockroaches and even though I did also see some cockroaches, in the city there are no gekko’s (that I have seen). BUT: So. Many. Ants. Everywhere. So many.
  • People will call you mister, with no regard for your gender. In Indonesia people are very polite and they often use the words ibu (f) and bapak (m) to address each other. So I get that they want to address me as something in English too, but why they cannot learn to leave out the -ter for females is beyond me.
  • Indonesian people have magic. They can make things just appear out of thin air. In the food court, for example, you can ask for anything and they will get it for you. You don’t know where it comes from, you don’t know how it was prepared (if it is food). But it is just there. And when I needed a doctor to take a look at my foot, all of a sudden a medical care center magically appeared on the 27th floor of my office building, just by asking one of my colleagues.
  • You can get people to do anything if you give them some money. Sure, I heard about bribing being more common here, but it doesn’t just stop at bribes. In most western countries, if something isn’t part of the services a business offers, you cannot get it done. For example, if you want a hotel to do your laundry but they have no laundry service, you will just have to figure out how to do it somewhere else. But here, if they don’t offer it, you can just pay them a little extra and they will get it done. No questions asked.
  • You are not the only one who will have a culture shock when visiting Indonesia. Indonesian people will experience the same thing by talking to you. Telling them about daylight saving time blows their mind and they are very confused by the fact that in the summer, it is light out until late in the evening. Here, during the entire year the sun rises at 6AM and sets at 6PM.

At this moment I cannot think of any other things that really surprised me and I am a little bummed that my initial wonder for all things Indonesian faded. I walk around the streets that used to be so strange to me now and feel at home. A friend of mine told me to take many pictures in the first days here because after a while the things just wouldn’t seem special to me anymore and I am sorry to not have listened to her. But on the other hand, it makes me feel really comfortable to know that you can adjust to any place and make it feel like home.

All by myself

Let’s start this blog with a video of my recently discovered talent…

Dubsmash, of course.

I know the start of this blog may make you think I am feeling lonely, but don’t worry. I did that on purpose.

I have been AWOL and haven’t posted anything in a while (thank you, Facebook, for the constant reminder). Well, this is basically because there was nothing to tell. The last two weeks have been pretty uneventful. And the one event that caused the uneventfulness is that I slipped and fell in a pool (well, more like at the pool, not in the pool, that wouldn’t have resulted in the injury). I have a tiny fracture in my foot, which sounds cuter than it feels. It’s still healing and I cannot wait for it to be fully recovered.

Want to see a creepy x-ray of the bones in my foot? –> Click

I know you’re looking for the fracture, but don’t bother. It’s hardly visible on the real thing, let alone on the photo of the photo. Like I said… tiny.

Anyway, this resulted in me spending the whole weekend not doing anything (which had its own advantages, trust me). But as I was lying on my comfortable bed, I came to an important realization and on some level I guess I was always aware of this.

If you don’t take action, nothing will happen.

In the first few weeks that I was here, I met so many people, I saw so many things, but most importantly, I tasted so many great food (sorry, again with the food. I will dedicate an entire post to this soon, I promise). But these past two weeks, I hardly did anything. I was at home, not feeling so well and I let my foot get me down.

The big difference is my lack of initiative. Maybe I could have done some easy activities that didn’t require any walking, but I didn’t put in any effort to arrange this. I have spent a lot of time in my room. And don’t get me wrong, I am one of those people who is very comfortable just being on their own. I like me and I don’t mind spending time with me.

But being here in Jakarta and doing nothing… I just want to do stuff! I don’t even care what it is, I just want to get out and explore. I want to make memories and I want to experience anything and everything I can before I have to leave.

And that makes me wonder… Why don’t I live like this when I am at home (wherever that may be at this point). At home I used to love spending an evening at home and sometimes I could do absolutely nothing for a whole weekend (read: hang on the couch, watch tv shows, write and/or read). But here I feel like I need to live every moment to the fullest and right now I am hoping to take that mentality with me to… well, everywhere really.

So if you are one of those people who wait for the good things in life to come to you, just stop. Make it happen. Do it yourself! You cannot wait around for other people. If you want something, you have to make sure you get it.

And so when my foot is fully healed, I will. But in the meantime, nobody needs to walk much to go out to dinner and have some of that amazing food with some of the amazing people I have met so far, now do they?

I thought it would be harder

It’s been a month now. And I really – really – really – like it here. I heard a lot of stories from people going abroad, that they would have moments where they would get homesick, they missed Dutch food, and most of all they experience culture shock.

I am not homesick. I’m sorry to all my friends back home, but I am just not. I don’t miss The Netherlands at all. I do miss my friends but we still keep in touch and Skype whenever I can. Maybe I don’t miss it because I prepared for this for so long, I was ready to leave it all behind and start over.

I can write a whole post (and maybe I will some time) about the food. But here, suffice it to say… I love it. I am in love with it. Everything I eat is so good and it is all so cheap. You can buy it everywhere and anywhere and it never fails to amaze me. I tried to discover why it was that I loved it so much and I came to a conclusion. It’s because everything they use is pure. It’s just vegetables, herbs, rice… Okay, sometimes they add some oil (or a lot of oil), which is the only downside, but still. The ingredients are not processed and that really improves the taste. I have to say it again, I really love the food. Really.

I have not experienced any culture shock. But I think that is because I came very well prepared. I had already seen a little bit of the world and I actually made everything way more scary and different in my mind than it really was.
I also have a theory that the culture shock will be bigger if you try to hold on to your Western beliefs and ideas. I like to think I am a very open-minded person and so when I got here, I just let everything happen and I literally went with the flow. I wanted to eat what the locals ate, travel the way they travel and learn as much about the culture as possible.

I imagine if you intend to find the Western food and culture here and you don’t find it… that might be a shock. But I immersed myself in everything Indonesian and that made it really easy. I was looking forward to all the cheap fruit, the rice and the joy of not having to cook. I wasn’t looking forward to going around on the back of a motorbike, but I gave in to that experience too and now I love it.

And I discovered something very important along the way.
I love Indonesia…Honestly, I didn’t think I would and I don’t know why. I figured I would miss the comfort of home, having people around you who you can count on and knowing your way around. But a new place is only new for so long until it becomes something else…
It becomes home too.

I think a big part of me loving it here is the food and the other part is the people. Because making friends is not that hard. Great people are everywhere and the Indonesian people are just so nice. It is impossible to not feel good here, when everywhere you look you can expect to find a smile on someones face. Where in The Netherlands something would be too much effort for someone, here they do it for you without complaining. They even offer!

I do have to admit that another part of my love for Indonesia has to do with the prices. Everything is so cheap here. You can take a taxi or ride on the back of a motorbike to go to places, food is super cheap and the rent is cheap.
I feel like I get such a good deal every time I buy something and really… It all adds to the happy feelings!

So, if you were wondering how I am doing here, the answer is great! I’s been a month and even though I still have four months left, I am already dreading the moment I have to get on a plane to leave it behind (but then again, it will be to travel, so maybe excitement will overrule my dread).
Regardless, I already know I will definitely come back to Indonesia after I leave it this time.