For anyone that hasn’t been to Indonesia yet it can seem very different and confusing. It is a beautiful place and the people are very friendly and always happy to have a chat.
Hopefully with these tips you will know a bit better what is in store
- Bargaining – Nothing is ever at face value in Indonesia. Bargain with sellers as most of the time, the price they’ve quoted will not be the price you’ll pay if you bargain!
- Water – Avoid drinking non-treated water: only drink bottled water, which is widely available. We will have drinkable water available at the conference where you can refill your bottle.
- Language – Bahasa Indonesia is the national language although different regions have their own. Most people will understand Bahasa Indonesia and in the tourist areas many people will speak English. We suggest that you at least learn the basics for your visit as it shows respect.
- Food– There is a lot of great food in Indonesia, most of your meals will be provided through the conference but if you do venture out make sure you are ok with spicy (pedas) food.
- Money – The unit of currency is the Indonesia rupiah (IDR), commonly abbreviated as Rp. The largest banknote is Rp100,000, roughly equivalent to US$7 and AUD$10. Most places don’t take cards so it is always good to carry cash. ATM’s give out 50,000 or 100,000 notes. It is usually better to go the 50,000 if you can, as many places have trouble breaking a 100,000. Also you are only able to get out 1.25 million IDR per transaction, so watch the bank fees.
- Greeting – Greetings in Indonesia are typically formal with the handshake being the most common greeting. After shaking hands with someone, it is normal to bow slightly or place your hand on your heart. This is to signify that you are taking them into your heart. Always shake with your right hand.
Commonly people will say halo or Selamat (time of day word).
- Bule – People will be interested in you because you are what they call, ‘Bule’ (pronounced bu-lay, meaning foreigner), it is best just to go with it and smile and wave to kids if they call out to you. You may also be asked to be in photos with people, it is up to you whether you choose to accept or not. But be aware that this may happen.
- Shoes – If you are entering somewhere and see shoes by the door it is good etiquette to also remove your shoes before entering.
- Clothing – It is hot in Indonesia and so you will want loose, cotton clothing. Remember that it is a Muslim country and so it is polite to cover up your chest, shoulders and thighs. Please no short-shorts or boob tubes. And ladies it would be wise to bring a shirt to swim in at the beaches and while snorkeling in Bunaken, definitely no topless swimming.