Viktorija Panovaite
Asian people

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.

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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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10 thoughts on “Asian people are not poor – they live easy”

  1. Very insightful post. More people are coming to this understanding that more is not always better. This shows simplicity not being poor.

  2. Very insightful writing, I am Indonesian who has been living in Europe for 6 years, 2 years in Norway and 4 years in Poland. I totally understand words ‘culturally shock’ that you mentioned. I think climate plays a significant role as well in the way of treating life. Lack of sunlight in winter makes people less smiling here. People also tend to prepare everything in good quality home material because winter has been not friendly at all :D. However it doesnt mean that we can’t bring the idea of life is easy to Europe as well. Our mind and body are our temple, be happy and life will go easier. Good writing.

    1. Thank you for comment and nice words! I agree that we can’t bring weather conditions to different countries and expect that it will change peoples life. As well that more sun, makes people feel more relaxed or more positive. But the main thing the way of thinking. Why we always complain about things that we can’t change or chasing “fashion” to have the most expensive thing even if we don’t need it? Is it really brings us happiness? Maybe for a while and then after some time we work double to buy more expensive thing? Do we really earn money just to waste it on things that we don’t need, just to “show off” in front of others that we able to buy it? :)

        1. To our life happier.Buy things that we need.Have our own value of things and don’t simply follow others.If you follow the trends of showing of than you put yourself in a hot frying pan.

        2. I just read this article and this is so true. I see the habit of buying things. Things. and more things. It becomes a bad habit. A line from the movie the Fight Club… Working jobs we hate so we can buy things (shit) we don’t need. I don’t meet very many happy people here and I am unfortunately becoming one of the unhappy ones. I meet a lot of people in my country escaping through drugs, alcohol and bad relationships, food and on and on. The houses here in my country are monster huge houses. It’s insane, usually with only 3 people living in them.

  3. Great insights about the important values in life and thanks for sharing your inner journey! The world would benefit immensely if we were to adjust our values to live simple, more enjoyable lives. Especially us, northerners/westerners. Good luck and all the best!

    1. Thank you for wishes :) I believe that we, all the time, can learn from other people, nations something good. The main thing if we want to see those good things, if we have time to see it, not just run through everything and most important thing if we want to learn. I think all trips, meeting with people from other countries (even from our own) it’s a chance to get and give something colorful to our/their life’s :)

  4. Nice article, just wanted to point out one main difference between a more northern country and a collection of very fertile jungle islands: the abundance of naturally growing and easy to grow food and the absence of a winter season with no harvest play a big factor. If earth would rotate differently from today to tomorrow placing Indonesia in a zone with Winter and Summer, the entire population would starve to death within 6 months.

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