Indonesia’s beautiful nature, culture, and people attract many travellers from near and far to visit or stay. Our country is very diverse, and with over a thousand ethnic groups, we have unique habits and ways of life that may surprise foreigners. But once you’ve been here long enough, you are probably accustomed to the culture without realising it. Been to Bali a few times? You are probably used to the roads in Bali being blocked due to a ceremony or when the whole island shuts down during Nyepi. But how local are you? Let’s find out how many super “Indonesian things” you do, and tell us your score!
The spicier, the better!
Indonesia is one of the largest spice producers – going back to history, it was the reason we were colonised! Most of our dishes are rich in spices and flavours, and while not all of them are spicy, most are. It is hard to find Indonesians who don’t love spicy food, and when the dish itself is not spicy, we would have Sambal (chilli paste) as a condiment. How many of you have tried our Indonesian menu? Do you think you can handle the spiciness like a true local?
Rice is life
“If there’s no rice, then it is not considered a main course” – a common phrase you might hear from Indonesians because rice is our staple food. Just like how Italians have pasta in many forms, we, too, have different types of rice other than the original Nasi Putih (white rice). There are Nasi Kuning (yellow rice), Nasi Uduk (coconut rice), Nasi Liwet (fragrant rice), Lontong (rice cake). Are you a Nasi lover too? How many of these rice variations have you had?
A jamu a day keeps the sickness away
Back to the story of how Indonesia is rich in herbs and spices. We use them for almost everything, including Jamu. It is Indonesia’s go-to herbal drink with lots of health benefits, using the main ingredients of ginger, turmeric, galangal, lime, and honey. We drink Jamu to enhance our immune system and cure sicknesses like cold and flu. If you want to have a taste of Jamu, they are available during our breakfast buffet in DONBIU.
The spirit of gotong royong
Gotong Royong directly translates to mutual assistance. We believe that doing things together makes the workload lighter, and we can finish faster. Indonesians are used to caring for each other in the community and will not hesitate to lend a helping hand to the people in their surroundings. You will notice, especially in Bali, that when a family holds a ceremony, the neighbours will come in and help with everything they can.
Eat with your hands
It is quite common to eat with bare hands in Indonesia; it stems from a long history where we did not have access to any cutleries before. Since then, it has become normal cultural behaviour. Eating using your hands is highly recommended in some parts of the country. There is only one rule; never use this method when eating soupy dishes such as Soto Ayam (chicken soup), Bakso (meatball soup), or curries.
Don’t be surprised when the Bahasa Indonesia you may have learned in school is totally different from what you hear in Bali. We rarely speak formal Indonesian daily, especially to families and close friends, because it sounds more friendly when we use slang. Here are some of the phrases you may catch during your holiday. Take notes and surprise your Indonesian friends!
Gimana? (Bagaimana): How?
Pa kabar? (Apa kabar?): How are you?
Makasih (Terima kasih): Thank you
Ga papa (Tidak apa-apa): No worries
Yuk! (Ayo!): Let’s!
Here are only a few of the Indonesian habits. We have way too many other unique cultures depending on which island we are from.
Now, can you score Indonesian level after reading this? how Indonesian are you? write your points in the comment section!