Bahasa Indonesia and Indonesian culture tidbits

Kuta Travel Blog

 › entry 15 of 47 › view all entries

It's great to learn some Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia) when you are there. The people really appreciate that you try, and it's relatively easy to learn. For a Dutch person there's an added bonus: quite a few words derived from Dutch. For example: handuk - towel, knalpot - muffler, kantor pos - post office, kamar - room, tas - bag, ransel - backpack, losmen - gesthouse (i think derived from 'logement'), polisi - police, adminstrasi - administration, etc etc. I got to learn some basic stuff like how to ask politely for something (bisa saya minta ...), what's your name (siapa nama anda), where are you from (dari mana), what's this (apa ini), here/there (di sini, di situ), hot/cold (panas/dingin), maybe (munkin), dutch person (orang belanda), how are you (apa kabar) and even learnt some jokes: the reply to 'how are you' is 'baik', pronounced as almost bike, so sometimes an indonesian who asked me this had a laugh if I replied 'spedah' which is bike in Indonesian :)

The difference in culture is always a difficult thing and there's some odd stuff for a westerner. Once a hotelmanager who had a bad heart told me he had gone to the doctor, and he had asked if he would be able to continue to do his marital duties, the doctor had replied yes but still he asked me 'so what do you think?'. How would I know??? More than once I got the impression that they think that westerners know everything about all aspects of sex, even if you're just an IT guy... e.g. the hotel staff had no problem letting me and 2 girls i was travelling with to share a room with only 2 beds. They only didn't get that we wanted an extra bed there, probably they just thought I was very lucky or something :D. This goes all the way to having a local dive master make completely inappropriate remarks to couples about their sexual activities because he thought anyything goes :(. And there's lots of small stuff like being woken up at 5 AM by 2 muezzin doing a call to prayer competition over the loudspeakers, the fact that almost never an Indonesian will say 'no', so you have to phrase your questions carefully, disapproving looks in some places when you're looking for liquor (in Flores I wound up finding an Arak seller in a back alley who sold the home made stuff in water bottles), kids coming up to you shouting 'boule boule' (foreigners) and 'gula gula' (candy), sea gypsie girls who look like 15, are 17 and already have 3 kids, too much to mention...

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