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Culture Shock In Indonesia. You Should Read This Before Visit Indonesia!

 Hello guys... How do you do?

While you are traveling in other states or countries, doesn't close the possibility that you will feel cultures shock. I wanna talk about my country's condition that make foreigner feel shock in Indonesia.  I'v resumed from few friend's experiences,  blogs, and from media social complately. Then, I wanna give you information and reason from Indonesia's side clearly πŸ™ƒπŸ˜‰ are you curious? You should know these before come to Indonesia to prepare yourself. So, check it out!

1. Smiling 

When first time come to Indonesia, maybe in the airport or anywhere it, you will find peoples who smiling at you while you are staring at them. For foreigner, maybe it will be so weird. But calm down, it is normal in Indonesia. We like smiling although we don't know who is it, for show them that we are open person and friendly. The problem is Indonesia don't only smile if they are happy or to show that they are welcome. They also smile to cover up negative feelings or discomfort in tense situation. 

2. Bule

If you are Europe, American, or Australian who have white skin and or with hair blond, maybe some peoples in Indonesia will call you Bule. It is normal, please don't negative thinking, hehe. So long time before I born or maybe since colonial periode, we have been using "Bule" word to generalized foreigner with white skin and/or with blond hair. It doesn't mean we are rasis, but we hear that word for long time. 

3. Take a picture

Maybe it is one of annoying things for foreigner specially Bule while visit Indonesia. When visit tourism specially in the village, maybe there are peoples, children, or teenager will come to you and say "Mister, take a picture together" or "Mister, photo yaa?" Yea... They will ask to take a picture with you or just looking at you with misteriously, hehe... If you visit big city such as Jakarta, Bandung, Bali Island, it won't be bad rather in village tourism. maybe there are few peoples from village who visit tourism places and meet you, they will ask you to take a pict. While you are visiting a village tourism with peoples around you who seldom and never meet Bule before, maybe it will be annoying for you 🀭 Why is it happen? Because for Indonesian, you have different skin tone, eyes color, and hair color, for few peoples who live in the village or live so far from tourism places and never meet Bule or seldom meet Bule directly before. There is antusiasme of them to take a pict together and show to all peoples around them that they met Bule. If you don't feel comfortable with that and you can't enjoy your trip, just smiling to them and say "sorry, I can't" or "sorry, I am tired" or with Bahasa Indonesia "Maaf, tidak bisa" or "Maaf, saya lelah" or if you agree to take a pict later you can say "Maaf, nanti saja" which is "Sorry, we'll do later"

4. Language

Bahasa Indonesia is official language In Indonesia. Indonesia has 37 provinces, more then 16700 islands, more the 700 ethics languages or mother languages that we still use everyday for daily activities in each ethnics. Anywhere, we can use Bahasa Indonesia to talk each other. The problem is some peoples in Indonesia can't use English. We learn English in the school till university only, but seldom to use it for daily activities. Maybe because of it, so many peoples in Indonesia are passive in English. But don't worry, now in time by time so many peoples antusias to use and learn English. My advise, If you come to Indonesia, specially not in big city, better learn and save few sentences in Bahasa Indonesia for help yourself. Exp : Berapa?(how much?), saya mau pergi ke..., dimana itu? (I wanna goo...where is it?), saya mau beli... "point it" (I wanna buy...), terimakasih (thank you), maaf (sorry), tolong saya (help me).

I told you on point 4. Indonesia has 37 provinces, more then 16700 islands, more the 700 ethics languages or mother languages. Every provinces has their own unique, their own ethnic and tradition. The biggest ethnic in Indonesia is Javanese, you can find this ethnic wherever in Indonesia even in Netherland and Suriname, because while colonialism, Dutch make colonialization program and distribute Javanese peoples to around Indonesia, Suriname, and Netherland. There is transmigration program by Indonesian goverment in 1950 and it bring so many ethnic to stay and live all Indonesia area. But, we are be unite with local ethnics. So that is why i told you every provinces has their own culture, ethnics, tradisional food, even languages (mother languages), exp: if you learn Balinese languages, then you come to Java Island (ex:Yogyakarta), you can't use Baliness language. If you call men in Bali with "bli" you can't call "bli" in Yogyakarta, but you can call with "mas". Then if you come to provinces in sumatera, you can call with "Abang". One more that you have to notice. If you call other people who older then you and maybe they married or on formal condition. You should call them "ibu for women" or "bapak for men" before their name, or if you don't know their names, you can use that word "ibu/bapak" which is Mis/Mr. We never call by name if they are elder. If elder but you guess your age and their age isn't different far, we can call kakak which is brother/sister. If you go to warung (local shop in the road) to buy something you can say "bapak, saya mau beli itu..." (Sir, I wanna buy that...), "ibu, saya mau tanya" (Mis, I wanna ask) "," Kakak, bisa tolong bantu aku? " (Brother/Sister, would you like to help me?) 

5. Handshake

When introduced yourself with Indonesian, we often use handshake, it is our tradition. Exp like men and men on meeting, they will do handshake, women and women also will do handshake. Indonesia is the biggest muslim country in the world, so many Muslim in Indonesia. Few peoples they don't  touch other women or men except their wife or husband, parents, brother and sisters or their children, that is sunnah as Muslim, our Rasul never shakehand except with his mahram or his core family. So some peoples follow it. Men meet women, maybe for non Muslim, they will shakehand. But if  few Muslim, maybe will only show their hand like this πŸ™πŸ™ unite their arms in front of their chest like praying. That is mean that they accept to meet and know you. So, you just need to do same to response it. 

6. Adzan

You will hear adzan or calling fo shalat till 5 time everyday from masjid's speaker, subuh time aroundt 4.30 am, dzuhur at noon around 12 am, ashar around 3.30 pm, maghrib around 6 pm, and isya around 7.30 pm. Sometime you will hear peoples are reading Al-Qur'an around those times before adzan. We are the biggest Muslim in the world, so many masjid or praying places for Muslim wherever even every hundered meters. If it is annoying for you, sorry and please be patient yaa. We have 5 religions. If in Bali, mayority Hindu, in Papua mayority is Christiani.

7. City or Nature Tourism? 

Jakarta City (
Yogyakarta foto by heycal_805

Indonesian has complate tourism places, maybe you can't find in other countries specially modern countries. If you like city life style you can go to big cities, we have so many cities that have their own unique such as Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bandung, Bali, Surabaya. If you wanna join with ethnic who live in the jungle or mountain without electricity, internet, and be unite with nature, life from nature, then you can go to Papua ethnic tourism (there are so many pac tours to go there) you can visit Papua ethnic who welcome with tourist but still hold their naturalistic till now. 

ANTARA photo/Lucky R

8. Food

We have different culinary every provinces. so you can taste it. If in Yogyakarta dominant with sweet taste, in Sumatera Island with spicy taste. So many Indonesian like spicy food. We have so many spicy food. Be ware yaaa, could prepare milk or yourgurt for youself after taste it. Oh yaaa, so many Indonesian like crunchy food, maybe you will find deeply fried food. Although we know it is not healthy and cholesterol, but honestly it is so delicious for us maybe for you too. (Aisyah Arief) 

9. Rice is Everyting

Still talking about food, Indonesian like rice for eating lunch, dinner, even breakfast. Some peoples like heavy breakfast. We can't feel full while eating without rice. Rice is everything. Sometime we eat Mie with rice also or we say it "double carbo" Hehe... But not all. There are some people who eating like foreigner with bread and milk or sereal with fruit in the morning. I told you that mayority peoples from village is like me. I can't feel full if eating without rice 🀭

10. Eating with hand (net) 

There are few moment or some peoples that eating by hand is more delicious rather then with spoon. That is our tradition and our habbit. You can try to eating by hand then if visit Indonesia. 

11. Ice in Plastic Pack

If you go to some places in Indonesia with hot weather and you wanna drink ice, maybe you will find peoples who sells ice with plastic pack and straw. See the pict above. Yeaa that is ice. So, don't hesitate to try. 

12.No Tissue in Some Public Toilets

Sometime you can't find tissue in some public toilets. Maybe you will find dipper and bucket filled with water. See the pict below. So, better always bring your tissue while in Indonesia. It will help you too for next point (point 13th below).

13. Toilet Tissue in The Restaurant or Shop

I dunno why i am laughing while writing this point. So, if you can't find toilets tissue in the toilets, maybe they put it on the table in the shop or restaurant for you after enyoing the food. That is the realπŸ™„ few city goverments have forbidden it in their areas. But I still find it anywhere.

14. Jongkok (Squat) and Toilet Jongkok (Squatting pan) 

Maybe in the road, hang out places, you will find people do it. Jongkok is sitting position without chair and Indonesian can do that beside waiting or hang out include in the toilets also. We have squatting pan. Usually, it inculde dipper and bucket with water on it.

15. Weather 

Indonesia has two seasons, dry season with hot weather and rainy season with raining whole days. But in this globalization, raining will come unpredictable. So, you should prepare umbrella or rain coat while visit Indonesia. 

16. Traffic Jam

If you visit big city such as Jakarta, Surabaya and other big cities, you will get traffic jam specially in office day. Avoid going out when peoples go to work in the morning and coming home in the evening. Holidays will also be crowded. Better to use public transportation to avoid traffic jams. 

Antara foto/ Sigid Kurniawan

17. Rubber time

Jam is time and karet means rubber. Which is stretching from minutes to hours, suggests flexibility and the unsureness of time. All Indonesian known this concept. It means arriving late and waiting are common habits and experiences. I dunno, maybe it is our habbit. But not all Indonesian feel comfortable with this habbit, some people be on time. But I think not include me 🀭🀣 I still hold this rubber time habbit. 

18.Bad Bureaucracy

Some foreigner who visit and stay long time in Indonesia maybe will be complain with Indonesia's bureaucracy. A few foreigner said  Indonesia's bureaucracy is complicate. Actually isn't only for you guys. We are Indonesian, we known it and realized it also. Everything isn't simple. But yeaa, we still enjoy it till now and go on. 

Okay, maybe just it what i wanna share for you. I hope it can help you if you have a plan to visit Indonesia. Thanks for your times guys. I am sorry if so many erorr grammatical in this articel. I am still learning English. I hope I can write better in future. Thanks for open this little blog ❤️❤️ Terima kasih! 


Culture shock, Indonesia Culture Shock, Culture Shock in Indonesia, Visit Indonesia, Foreigner in Indonesia, Indonesian Habbit, Before Visit Indonesia, Indonesia Tourism, My Indonesia 


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