Asian people are not poor – they live easy

When I wrote few articles about my life in Indonesia (in Lithuanian one of the popular portal) I got some comments from the readers. They were calling me stupid to coming to this poor country. Asking what I left in Indonesia, why I want to live in that dirty society and etc. I met some travelers as well, who felt pity about Indonesian people, that their life is hard, they live in unsanitary conditions: have only cold water, doesn’t use toilet paper, eat with hands; live in small, almost transparent, houses without any comfort. I couldn’t understand those people at that time.

When I arrived in Indonesia, somehow I didn’t thought about it. Maybe because I had to take care how to find a place to live, how to deal with transportation here, buy some things, understand the system and people behavior. Deal with very hot weather and health condition (I got sick on the first week of living in Indonesia). Or maybe those things, Indonesian people lifestyle didn’t shocked me too much, I wasn’t pay attention in it? People live like this all their life, so what I can change about it?

Now, when I’m going back home (for Christmas) to Lithuania, I started to think what I experienced in Indonesia, what I learn here, what I discover and many more things. Even if I feel that holidays at home is just temporary, but still I will leave behind 1 and a bit more year of my life in Indonesia. And I know that after I will come back, many things will be different because of my ideas for the future.

And during my last days thinking I saw one video from TEDxDoiSuthep. It put all things together, what I was thinking recently. Jon Jandai from Thailand says a speech about his life, about one thing that he understood:

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?”

Even he is not from Indonesia but the things that he says, I think, possible to put to Indonesia, maybe some parts of Vietnam as well :). I haven’t been in Cambodia or other similar countries, so can’t generalized to all Asia.

What came to my mind after watching this video – Jon says true (he uses some funny comparisons) – life is much easier that we think. We – who decide to make it hard. We who put aims for our self (nobody ask us to do that), we who chase the fancy life style. Like a humans we don’t need all those things to feel happy.

We just need things that can satisfy our daily life needs and the rest of the things depend just on our way of thinking.

One of the things that I learned in Indonesia – live simple. Even if my European brains didn’t accept this still (I have to do list in my mind, schedule when and what need to do, what I want to reach) but the way of living I see that I already changed. And I feel really happy.

I live in my “big tent” without proper walls, without windows and all other things that I used to live with in Lithuania. I make things from used stuff, I bought only couple new clothes (and in second hand shop) during this year in Indonesia. Because clothes that I have are still good, I take good care of it. I try not to spend money for those things that I don’t need, I think couple of times before buying.

Even Indonesian people sometimes surprise when they find out that I live in “gedeg” house. They can’t believe that foreigner can live here. But almost all of them told me, that they have been living in such houses in their childhood. Or at least was visiting their grandparents in such houses and they felt happy. Does they feel happy now, in big houses which they rent for a big amount money that it’s hard to earn? I didn’t ask this, didn’t want to “pour salt on the wound”.

I just remember how stressed I was making repair work in flat in Vilnius (my friends know it :D). Searching the best things, quality ones, wishing to be more happier in the place that cost a bit more :D. Now it’s seems so funny. I think if I really needed all those stuff? Even if my place not crowded with much furniture or really expensive ones but still I spend much money on it and worked so hard to earn it. Now I think I could spend those money more wise – travel more, try new things and etc.

Jon Jandai words make sense and I could say conclusion – Asian people are not poor, they know how to live easy. Yeah, there are every time exception, and here lives more than 255 million people, so I can’t generalize all of them. But at least from places where I have been in Indonesia, the surrounding where I live, I can say that most of people doesn’t have a lot of money but you will see the smile on their face every time when you will meet them. They have in their garden plants that they grow – it’s enough for family and sell. Those who knows how to make handicrafts – make it for their home and sell it. People who know how to cook, they sell it in “warungs” (street eating places) or with “kaki lima” (street vendros). People take it easy – sell things in front of their house, for the neighbors, for bigger shops. Even if they don’t have money – they know how to enjoy the time with family, neighbors – meeting and chatting, making local events, solve problems in slow way, walk slow (for Europeans this part is hard to understand and make much more stress when they need to deal or solve some problems with Indonesians:D). They live in simple houses without expensive things because they don’t need them. They learn from their childhood how to enjoy time playing with animals, nature. They dress simple clothes as well. And you don’t need to judge Asian people because of their lifestyle. Don’t need to be surprised, just need to accept and not try to change them. Just think what they think about us – people from abroad? Probably when they deal with us, they don’t understand many things, why we are so in a rush, why we all the time have problems and etc.

And when I think now about coming back to Europe, I think how I will live now there – will I manage to bring this easy Indonesian my life there?

Yes, my 1 and a bit more year of life in Indonesia was easy as well. Just I didn’t see it all the time. You know, people need more time to change the way of thinking, understand and evaluate things that they get. Maybe you can say that easy life came because I got scholarship – no need to work or take care of the family with small amount of money. But for me, like a person from totally different word, not the money was a problem. But the things that I needed to accept, the things that I needed to change and understand. Sometimes this part is more difficult. If you are professional in your field, I think you can find the way to earn money in any country but to open your mind, heart and eyes not so easy everywhere.

Just want to say – I’m happy with simple my life in Indonesia even if sometimes I struggle to deal with myself here. But I still have time to work with it and the main thing that I still want to do that – learn how to live 100% easy life – live in Indonesia and enjoy the life here:)

So if life is easy. Why do we make it so hard? Maybe it’s already enough what you have? Maybe it’s time to relax and enjoy the moment?

 

Just spend 15 min. of your time to see Jon Jandai talk. If it won’t give you any incentive you won’t lose anything beside will have break :).

 

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What can you do with 1 euro in Indonesia

Some people, when they arrive to Indonesia, feel like millionaires. Here, everything is counted by thousands and millions. In Indonesia there are only 1, 2, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100 thousands banknote and 100, 200, 500, 1 000 coins. Paradox but more than 57% of all Indonesian inhibits earn till 1,78 EUR per day.

Money are using not only for shopping
Indonesians cure fever with metal coins. They scratch the back with coins for wind get out from the body. Indonesians believe that wind, makes them get fever and metal coins attracts bad spirits. This “procedure” (others say it “massage”) called “kerok”.

As well, like probably in many countries, money is given like presents.

In the end of Ramadhan, during Idul-Fitri, when relatives visiting relatives, if in the family there are any kids – guests brings colorful envelopment with money inside (usually 10 000 Rp – ~0,69 EUR) for kids. Even before this celebration banks specially is changing big amount of cash to smaller. Nobody surprised when kids, during Idul-Fitri, comes to guests and showing their wallets (asking money).

In the traditional Muslim weddings you rare will see guests with flowers or presents. Almost everyone brings envelopment with money. When you come, first of all you need to “register” in guest book and beside this book is always stands the box to put the money. There are not written rules how much you need to put, but it’s good gesture if one person brings at least 50 000 Rp (~3,43 EUR).

Before Christmas, Catholics in Indonesia are used to give money for kids like a present. The amount is ~20 000 Rp (1,37 EUR). It should be new banknote in beautiful envelopment. Some street sellers, especially for Christmas sells new banknote already packed. Of course for this “service” you need to pay extra ~2 000–5 000 Rp (0,14–0,34 EUR).

Different prices in different cities and for different people
For example, in Yogyakarta prices are ~1,5 times less than in Jakarta or Bali island.
As well different prices sellers gives for local people and for foreigners. Even if you already know how to barge in Indonesian language, still usually the final sum will be a bit bigger than for locals. Some Indonesians even don’t hide, that foreigners they see like walking ATM’s, so they try to take as much as possible cash from them :).

What can you do with 1 euro in Indonesia?
So what is possible to buy for 1 EUR in Yogyakarta city? Like EUR currency all the time changing let’s take average -1 EUR=14 500 Rp.

  • Eat food in local restaurant “Rumah makan” (where is menu from which you can choose).
    1 portion simple rise (“nasi putih”), fried mushrooms (“jamur goreng”), sambal sause with guava natural juice – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR).
  • Have a dish in street restaurant “Warung makan” (food made and putted in the window, there are no menu, you take what is putted)
    1 portion simple rice, vegetables (“sayur”), 2 balls of smash potatoes (“perkedel”), 1 chicken thigh in sweet suce (“ayam bakar”) and natural guava juice – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Eat in street restaurant (where you see how food is preparing for you)
    1 portion fried rise (“nasi goreng” – called national Indonesian dish) with chicken scrap, omelet, several vegetables and cold drink  “es jeruk” – 11 000 Rp (0,76 EUR).
  • Take away food from street vendors “kaki-lima”.
    1 portion rice cooked in coconut oil (“nasi uduk”), 2 peace “tempeh” and 2 peace of “tahu” – 7 000 Rp (0,48 EUR).

It’s really possible to find where to eat cheaper but I don’t go to places where I see that food is made and kept not in the best conditions :)

If you don’t have big requirements for food and don’t eat big portions, per day in Yogyakarta is possible to eat 3 times for 24 000 Rp (1,65 EUR): for breakfast instant coffee and 4 coffee cake; for lunch – rice, vegetables, chicken, simple drink; for dinner – rice, “tahu” and “tempeh”.

What possible to buy for 1 EUR in Surabaya city? (Thank you Abriani Ori Ratnasari for information)
1 EUR  Abriani calculate like 15 000 Rp. Here is the list what you can do with 1 EUR:

  • Buy food in KFC “goceng package”. You can choose: ice cream, soup, love float, melon float, grape float, burger and others.
  • Buy food: rice, chicken and ice tea – 5 000 Rp (0,33 EUR)
  • Buy books
  • Buy pensil case
  • Buy ticket for public transportation like “angkot” or bus – it’s only 5 000 Rp (0,33 EUR) one way, for 1 person
  • Buy 3 underwear units (for girls)

More things what can you do with 1 euro

  • Eat sandwich with cobra meat– 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • Order 2 natural juice in local restaurant – 10 000-14 000 Rp (0,69-0,96 EUR).
  • Try Robusta coffee from Flores island in local restaurant– 10 000 Rp (0,69 EUR).
  • In small shop buy 13 packages of instant coffee – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • In small shop buy 10 packages of instant noodles (Indonesians just love this ”dish”)– ~14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Buy ~ 1,2 kilo simple rice – ~14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • In big supermarket buy “Coca cola” 1,5 l – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR). Or in small shop buy 3 small bottles (425 ml) – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).
  • Buy 4 bottles of water in not touristic are (500 ml) – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).
  • Buy 1 kilo tomatoes and cucumber in local market – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR) (locals can buy cheaper ;)).
  • Buy 1-2 kilo of seasonal fruits (banana, mango…) – 7 000-13 000 Rp (0,48-0,96 EUR).
  • In small shop buy food „package“ – 2 packages of instat coffee, pie, jam – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR) or 0,5 kilo of rice, small package of sauce and 2 pieces of “tahu” and “tempeh” – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR).
  • Put the fuel almost 2 l in petrol station – 14 800 Rp (1,02 EUR).
  • Buy bus ticket from Yogyakarta to Magelang city – 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR).
  • With “becak” go short distance (that takes no longer than 10 min.) – 10 000 Rp (0,69 EUR).
  • Pay for motorbike parking 7-14 times – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR). The price depends where you want to park – touristic places more expensive.
  • Go with taxi ~2-4 km – 12 000-14 400 Rp (0,82-0,99 EUR).
  • Buy local cigarettes 1-2 (with „kretek“) – 8 000-14 000 Rp (0,55-0,96 EUR).
  • Buy small souvenirs in Malioboro street, for example T-shirt– 13 000 Rp (0,89 EUR)
  • Visit 1 person, 1 time Sultan palace “Kraton” – 13 500 Rp (0,93 EUR) or Water castle “Taman sari” – 14 000 Rp (0,96 EUR).
  • Put to mobile “pulsa”– 11 000 Rp (0,76 EUR).
  • Buy cleaning stuff for home, for example in small shop liquid for cleaning the floor – 9 700 Rp (0,67 EUR).
  • Buy hygienic stuff (in small shop): tooth paste, soap, wet napkins – 13 700 Rp (0,94 EUR).
  • Take laundry service for ~5,5 kilos – 13 750 Rp (0,94 EUR).
  • Buy 1 pair of slippers – 12 000 Rp (0,82 EUR).

And some other things possible to do with 1 EUR ;).

Per day, if not spread out the money, possible to live for ~ 30 000 Rp (2,06 EUR). That’s why mostly people use banknotes of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 thousand. Those banknotes are mostly dirty and damage. Sometimes I see when locals get new banknote of 2 000 Rp, they are smiling while looking at them, because not many new banknotes you can see of such amount.

As well, sometimes it’s happens (especially in small shop) when they don’t have back change, they give back small candies (I really don’t like it). But when I tried once in the same shop pay with the same candies – I didn’t manage :D

What you managed to buy with 1 euro in Indonesia?


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Other useful information

Here is some more practical information for those who are planning to stay in Indonesia longer.

Mobile operators

In Indonesia you will find 4 main mobile operators (“Telkomsel”, “XL”, “Indosat”, “Smart”) with different prepaid cards – for example “Loop”, “IM3” and etc.  One of them is more expensive but covers mostly all Indonesia and you will be reachable will be hiking in volcano or camping somewhere further from civilization. Others will be cheaper but sometimes with delay SMS delivery and etc.

Before choosing the mobile operator ask yourself what you need mostly – write SMS, use internet in mobile or something else? Ask local students; people which operator they are using, like most probably they are using the cheapest one and which has good connection in the exact (their) area.

Compare some mobile operator’s prices by your requirements and then choose which one suit you best. For example in Yogyakarta, you can find many mobile operators in one place – “Jogjatronic” mall.

In Darmasiswa scholarship opening ceremony, most probably, will be one mobile operator who will suggest their SIM cards for free and will give some extra benefits. Like speaking between Darmasiswa students for free and etc. It’s nice offer – BUT! Most probably it will be one of the most expensive mobile operators. My suggestion – take that free SIM card for couple of first months and then change to that one that suits your needs (believe you can save some money:)).

When you will choose mobile operator you will need to put money to prepaid cards (“pulsa”) each time when you will finish your limits. The “pulsa” amount depends on how much you want to put to prepaid cards. Usually its fixed amount – 5 000, 10 000, 15 000, 25 000, 50 000 or 100 000 Rp. Not in all places you can put bigger amount like 50 000 or 100 000 Rp. As well the “pulsa” validation depends on mobile operator – one suggest validation of 1 month, others – to use till you will finish it (no matter if it will be even couple of months).

Internet access

Indonesia can’t proud with fastest and very good quality internet :) As well, internet not accessible everywhere. Not many houses have WI-FI, so USB internet modem can be your “best friend” during using internet.

Before choosing the internet provider, if you have possibility, borrow internet USB modem from someone (neighbors, other students) and check if it works in your place. Like different providers have different signal quality, some of them won’t work in your places, others – will be excellent quality.

You will need to put money to prepaid cards (“pulsa”) each time when you will finish your internet limits. The “pulsa” price depends which operator you will choose, how much monthly limit of GB you want to have.

You rare will find any free WI-FI spots in cities. But many cafes suggest free WI-FI access, to attract more customers (you will see that even in their sign outside first “reason” to convince you to go to their place will be written “FREE WI-FI” ;)). But main problem, that most cafes try to save money and make not proper access. If somebody will come first, he will get better quality connection and speed, than those who will come later. So you can imagine if many people at once are using WI-FI how “fast” it can be ;).

You can as well use internet in internet cafes (“warnet”). Usually 1 hour access cost 3 000-5 000 Rp. Some of the places works 24 hours, have all needed equipment like scanners, printers, headsets for “Skype” calls and etc. Some of Indonesian people go there to copy the movies from already downloaded movies folder (usually it’s English movies with Bahasa Indonesian subtitles). You can stay only 1 hour and copy more than 20 GB of newest movies :).

Mostly all universities have free WI-FI but you can log in only with students ID information.

Bank account

If you plan to stay longer in Indonesia you can easily open your Indonesian bank account. It’s useful when you are traveling, so no need to take bigger cash amount with you. As well if you are a student, you can ask to transfer you scholarship amount to account (maybe not all universities will agree, but at least you can try to ask ;)).

In Indonesia you will find private, governmental or half governmental banks. Which one to choose you can ask couple of local people or students. Most probably they will be using that bank that gives the smallest amount of fees, don’t charge for cashing money in ATM’s. As well check which bank’s ATM is nearest your living, working or studying place. Some of supermarkets “Indomaret”, “Alfamart” have ATM’s too. But not all banks and not all this brand supermarkets gives opportunity to cash the money.

If you want to open your bank account you will need your ID card or passport, visa (KITAS or another one which allows you to stay in Indonesia longer than like a tourist) and if you are student – student card.

Driving license

You must have international driving license if you plan to drive in Bali. If you don’t have – it’s matter of your negotiating skills when you will be stopped by policemen. In Bali policemen are most “hungry” to “hunting” foreigners and get some extra money.

In other places, the main thing policemen will check motorbikes technical passport (brown paper). So be sure that when you will rent motorbike to get this document and check if it’s still valid. And usually policemen don’t ask foreigners to show driving license. In worst case, just show any document (ID) from your country :).

If you want to buy motorbike you need to get as well blue bigger book – owners documents. My advice to buy motorbike in your city, in another case, you will need to go to another city to extend your documents all the time.

You can get Indonesian driving license as well. You should have permission to live in Indonesia and will need to pass theoretical and practical exams.

Laundry

Like probably at home you won’t have washing machine, at least time to time you would like to use laundry service rather that washing all blankets by hands and etc. Different places can give you different prices. For example in some places you will pay for a kilos of laundry and if you want to wash blankets, bags and similar stuff they can ask for it separately money.  Other places ask money not for kilos but for the stuff that you give – jeans, jackets and etc. and they will calculate separately each cloth.

Around your place you will see quite many laundry services, try to wash in different ones and see how quick which works, how pack washed things, working hours and then choose which one suit you best.

Important thing – sometimes you can lost your clothes in laundry or find something that not belongs for you. As well in laundry they don’t wash separately white and dark clothes – everything goes together. So after some time light close can change color. As well they use only cold water and sometimes your clothes can be damaged. Doesn’t matter which place you choose – it’s just happen time to time everywhere :).

Markets

Most of the bigger markets have morning and night working time.
In the morning best time to go there till 8:00 am. They will work till ~12:00-1:00 pm, but at such time you won’t find many options left, just couple sellers. In the morning they sell mostly food.

“Night market” in the same place usually working ~6:00-~10:00 pm. At this time you can find second hand clothes, things for motorbike and etc. They sell new things as well. Best time to come to “night market” on Saturdays, but at that time will come a lot of local people as well. Some “night markets” works separately from day market in some city areas, for example in Yogyakarta, in front of Beringharjo market is parking area (in the morning). In the evening in that parking area is “night market”.

Bathing water cleaning

Like you know (probably?) – in Indonesia mostly using cold water. Often it’s taken from borehole by automatic pump, in some places people as well use well. The water is low quality, it’s treated with chemicals (DON’T drink it from the tap).

After some time using such water with combination of sweat, dust, sun and etc. it can start irritate your skin (even influence your hair condition). Every person’s skin can react differently – can start acne, other skin problems (or maybe nothing at all ;)).

I found out that cleaning often the water trough and plastic dipper helps to prevent some skin problems.

What you should try to prevent skin problems (what I do):

  • At least couple times per week, in the evening, put “Dettol” bottles 2 filler-cap to almost empty water trough. Let the water with the cleaning liquid stay over the night. In the morning let out all water away and clean all water trough. Then give a rinse couple of times and full fill the new water.
  • Every couple of days let out all water and brushes all water trough walls. Again give a rinse couple of times and full fill the new water.
  • At least once per week, clean plastic dipper with “Dettol” like water trough, just put dipper to a bucket, to clean not only inside but outside side as well.
  • After some time using dipper buy a new one, depends on dipper condition, decide when is better to change it.

As well I’m using “Asepso” soap, to prevent skin from acne.

If you got any skin problems and cleaning bathing water doesn’t help after sometime, I suggest to visit the doctor.

Protection from “pets”

In Indonesian houses sooner or later you will see couple of frequent visiting “pets”: ants, lizards, geckos, cockroach, and maybe mice.

From lizards and geckos, you won’t probably find protection – and no need :). They are not harmful. Just time to time, maybe, you will need to clean their shit, hear them and see falling from ceilings, running through walls in any places.

Cockroach not harmful but not everyone’s feel pleasure to see them running from corner to corner, flying over your head. If you really can’t stand them, try to spry on them couple of times with spry from mosquitoes. For a moment they will be still very alive, but then you will see how poison kills them (so don’t spry too much and expect that effect will be sudden ;)).

Most harmful are ants and mice. Both of them like your food that you may leave not carefully closed. As well ants like to live I wooden parts of doors or windows.

  • First of all keep your food in bigger plastic boxes (or other type boxes, bags) closed properly.
  • Clean the dishes that contain any sweet things (ants love sugar and you will see how quick they will “attack” your cup of coffee that is even already empty).
  • Don’t keep longer that for 2 days fresh vegetables or fruits that you already cut (if you don’t have a fridge).
  • Take out often trash bin with food remains from the house.
You can buy chalk from insects and draw around places that you don’t want ants to come. After some time you need to repeat this action. If it’s doesn’t work, put the salt on the place that you see ants are coming from.

 

If mice disturb you too much and make any harm – you can buy poisons.  I tried several but only once helped. The main thing that when the mice eats this poison, after some time you even don’t feel any smell or know where mice disappeared. Just be careful taking the poison from the box, better do it with napkins or tissue, not straight with hands.

 

Hope this information will help you during your stay in Indonesia :).


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