I never thought I’d become salah satu orang itu (one of those people). The people I am talking about are how my mum once referred to someone she knew “oh he’s one of those people that goes to Indonesia all the time”. My love affair had not yet started with Indonesia so I just rolled my eyes, thinking ‘why the hell would you go to Indonesia all the time?’
Then things changed and for a few different reasons I started studying Indonesian. I did a distance degree through an Australian university and part of the program included going to Indonesia each year for in-country study. I went to Lombok, not Bali so these trips were my first taste of what some call ‘the real Indonesia’. After I finished my studies I also started going to Yogyakarta or Jogja , which is on the main island of Java. I still love Bali but I also love the other not so touristy parts of Indonesia.
I thought Indonesian, note not even the country Indonesia, but bahasa Indonesia (Indonesian language) would just be a passing phase to get my mind off a few big life events that I was going through at the time. I really thouoght I would finish the degree and maybe occasionally go to Bali every now and then to speak bahasa Indonesia. Along the way I never thought I would fall in love with a country, Indonesia. But you cannot help who, or in this case, what, you fall in love with.
I am a teacher at a vocational college and we have a generous set of annual holidays, similar to school holidays. Everytime holidays are coming a few workmates will say “are you going go Bali again?”. I think that everyone I know thinks I literally go to Bali every single holiday period I ever have. Not the case though, I do go to other places beside Bali, and yeah, other places in Indonesia.
What do I love about Indonesia? Here’s a list I prepared earlier.
- Javanese furniture. Carved in the most beautiful designs in stunning teak wood.
- Javanese doors. The most beautiful doors in the world, boldly painted in the most vibrant colours, sometimes beautifully carved too.
- Long, shiny, black, smooth pony tails on the back of men and women, especially sticking out under a helmet as they drive their sepeda motor (motor bike).
- Massages and spa treatments. Perhaps the most affordable in the world.
- You never feel lonely in any part of Indonesia, just go out onto the street and someone will chat.
- Banyak penjahit – tailors aplenty. People will make your clothes to fit, and they are found on all the back streets working at their sewing machines. Just take your fabric and tell them what you need..
- The friendliness of Indonesians. I like their optimism and cheefulness. They know how to make their own fun.
- Gojek and Grab. Fixed price cheap transportation, a brilliant way to get around where you can retain your independence, rather than be dependent on a driver.
- Riding on the back of a sepeda motor (motor bike), especially when its hot and the wind relieves you of the heat. If you wish Gojek/Grab drivers will chat with you in Indonesian too, lovely.
- Train trips through Java. I think these trains are cleaner than Australian trains in either first or second class.
- Makanan Indonesia (Indonesian food). Did I not say the food yet?
- Becaks (human pedicabs).
- Koes Plus. My favourite Indonesian band.
- Titiek Puspa. My favourite Indonesian singer.
- Indonesian service and hospitality. Where else can you meet people in the street who invite you to stay at their house after 5 mintues of talking to you? I have never taken anyone up on these offers. Once I even expressed that it was quite ridiculous to offer me hospitality when I was a stranger they’d only been talking to for 5 minutes. The reply I got was “Di Indonesia itu biasa” (In Indonesia it’s normal).