What to do before going to Indonesia

Here is my recommendations what to do before going to Indonesia. Mostly this information useful for Darmasiswa scholarship students but as well some parts for those who are planning to come to Indonesia longer than for 1 month.
It’s just advices, nothing is mandatory. All “must to do” things written in official Darmasiswa scholarship website.

How to save some money

  • Mobile payment plan: check possibilities to change your mobile payment plan and pay less till you will be in Indonesia. Like here – you will buy local SIM card and will have local operator (it will be cheaper and easier to contact between other students and local friends).
  • Unused stuff and clothes: maybe some of clothes or stuff you didn’t wear or use for a long time? Try to sell it in second hand websites. Double benefit – will clean your wardrobe, shelf and can get extra money. If nobody will buy it – just give for charity.
  • Club membership: if you have any – cancel it, like pay during your stay in Indonesia it’s not worth.
  • Proper clothes for Indonesia: buy them in second hand shops – it will be cheaper and the heart won’t hurt when it will be damaged in laundry (maybe).
  • Travel tickets: leave for yourself enough time to search for the cheapest plain tickets. Check all possible websites, flights from nearest countries capitals and etc. Compare different routes, which can modify the price of the same company: Amsterdam-Kuala Lumpur / Kula Lumpur- Yogyakarta, Amsterdam– Jakarta / Jakarta – Yogyakarta and etc. If you have 1 year scholarship – probably you won’t find the return ticket, so you can buy one way ticket (usually it’s enough, only if Indonesian embassy in your country will say opposite). Or buy both ways for period of maximum duration and later change return date – but usually it will cost almost the same price (to change) like whole ticket and not with all cheap tickets is possible to change the date.
  • Stuff list: make a stuff list that you want to take with you (my recommendations what to take before coming). If you need to buy something before the trip – leave time for yourself to search, wait for the discounts for needed stuff.
  • Liabilities for the bank: if you have any (like credits and etc.) check possibilities to suspend it for your scholarship period. Then you won’t need to pay and that money could spend for the trips or extra money for daily life in Indonesia.
  • Local institution: inform your local institution that you will live in Indonesia. Then you won’t need to pay taxes for a country during scholarship period (if your country system works like this ;)). For Lithuanians: Lietuvoje reikia informuoti seniūnija, kuriai priklausote 7 d.d. prieš išvykimą. Tuomet nebus skaičiuojamas privalomi mokesčiai kol būsite Indonezijoje.

Don’t buy too many stuff, like mostly everything you will find in Indonesia and much cheaper than in your country. Just read some advices which stuff better to take with you from your country (my recommendations what to take before coming).

Formalities

  • Visa: don’t forget on time to manage to get Indonesian visa from Indonesian embassy in your country (or other country that responsible for your country Darmasiswa scholarship participants). For Lithuanians: Indonezijos ambasada yra Danijoje, todėl teks siųsti savo pasą į Daniją, kad ten įklijuotų vizą. Visas procesas (nusiųsti per kurjerių tarnybą pasą, laikas vizai ir gauti atgal pasą užtruks ~1,5 savaitės. Kad būtų pigiau siųsti visus atrinktų dalyvių pasus galite siųsti kartu – jeigu susikoperuosite tarpusavyje).
  • Visa for other countries: if you will have a flight change in some Asian countries – check if you don’t need a transit visa there, if needed – check how to get it before you go there.
  • Bank: inform your bank (where you have any payment cards which you will use in Indonesia) that you will live in Indonesia and sometimes will use the card there. Like Indonesia is in the risk country list and some banks when they will see that your card used in Indonesia can block it, because they can think that somebody stole your card.
  • Payment card: if your payment card will expire during the stay in Indonesia – talk with your bank to extend it before it will expire.
  • Power of attorney: leave power of attorney during the Darmasiswa program period for one of your family members – in a case, they could manage to solve bureaucracy things in your country by your name without your participation.
  • International insurance: make insurance in your country for the period of staying in Indonesia. Like here you can have stomach, skin problems and etc. Probably you will need to go to private clinic or hospital (there more chance that doctors will speak in English, you can have better treatment). Visit to a doctor, x-ray, analysis, medicine and etc. will cost a lot, so why to use your scholarship money or savings? Insurance will cover expenses. Also save main information from insurance rules how and to whom you need inform about medical accident and etc. For Lithuanians: nesidrauskite pigiausiu kelionių draudimu. Atidžiai perskaitykite taisykles nuo ko būsite apdrausti ir kokios išlaidos bus padengiamos tuomet nuspręskite, kurią bendrovę rinktis. Naudinga pasidaryti ir bagažo draudimą, nes kelionė bus ilga ir tikriausiai keisite ne vieną avialiniją ir ne vieną šalį, kol nusileisite Indonezijoje.
    In Darmasiswa scholarship contract that you will need to sign, written that Ministry of Education and Culture provides medical/health care for 200 000 Rp per month and this amount included in the scholarship monthly stipend. It doesn’t mean that you will get insurance – this amount is for visiting doctor, buying medicine, making analysis. From my experience this amount not enough – in some hospitals the visit, medicine, analysis can cost even ~ 800 000 Rp per time.
  • Registration in your country embassy/consulate: inform your country embassy/consulate in Indonesia (or nearest country where is located your country embassy) – that you will leave in Indonesia and which city. Its good information for your country institution in a case of eruption, earthquake and etc. they will know how many their country people can be needed help also they could manage quicker to contact with your family. For Lithuanians: Kinijoje esanti Lietuvos ambasada atsakinga už lietuvos piliečius esančius Indonezijoje. Apie konsulinę registraciją plačiau čia.
  • Collect main information: print the main information about Indonesia from your country Foreign office – where is your country embassy in Indonesia, who is responsible person, contacts and etc. It will be useful in emergency case.

Other

  • Vaccine: take necessary vaccine before coming to Indonesia (you can discuss with doctor which vaccine is necessary). Some of vaccine need to make twice during 2 weeks so doesn’t leave this for the last minute. For Lithuanians: gavus siuntimą iš šeimos gydytojo, kai kurios vakcinos bus atliekamos nemokamai infekcinių ligų ir tuberkuliozės ligoninėje Vilniuje (Birutės g.). Šioje ligoninėje ir likusios vakcinos buvo pigiausios – bent taip buvo 2014 m.
  • Devices: check if your mobile, photo camera, laptop and other devices works properly – if not, fix it before coming to Indonesia. Here to fix the problem will take very long time and you don’t know if they will manage to fix it. Make a copy of all your documents from laptop in separate hard disk. Because of humid sometimes computers just not turn on – would be pity to lose all information. My recommendations what to do during rainy season.
  • Health condition: before coming to Indonesia – check your health condition, make all needed analysis and etc. obtain medical record from your doctor. Visit your dentist to obtain dental records.
  • Extra money: take some extra money with you and change it in Rupiahs (if possible), if not – take dollars or euros (before check which currency is friendlier for exchange to Rupiah). Dollars must be in perfect condition, with no rips, tears, marks or creases, and must be printed no earlier than 2007, like older one – money exchange in Indonesia won’t accept. Extra money you will need ~ for 2 first months, like you will need to pay for house/room rent for 6 months or 1 year period and it can be more than scholarship amount. Maybe you will need to buy some stuffs for a house and etc. (from my experience (but it’s not rule) in first month I spend: for house rent (1 year) 5 000 000 Rp, buying stuff for a house ~1 500 000 Rp (like the house was totally empty).
  • E-mail box: check your mail boxes – delete old letters and etc. because you don’t know how often you will have access to internet. The e-mail box can be full quite fast (if you get many newsletters, spam) and you cannot get main letters. If some newsletter you didn’t read often, just unsubscribe them.
  • Movies: download some movies before coming – like in Indonesia internet is very slow and will take days to download bigger file. You can download movies in some internet cafe but then you will pay for it.
  • Information about Indonesia: if you have time and wish, just read some articles, travel forums, blogs about Indonesia – to have better clue what to take with you, what to do and etc.
  • Indonesian language: write/print some main phrases in Indonesian language – just to be polite to saying “hello”, ”thank you” and etc.

Useful? Great! :) You might also like these:

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Good manners in Indonesia

Here is some advice to build good relationship with Indonesian people. If you come for short visit, local people won’t expect you to follow all good manners in Indonesia, but  if you will stay longer they will appreciate if you will follow some main “rules”.
By the way in different islands can be other good manners than written here.

  • After you will know less or more Indonesian language, communicate with unfamiliar and elder people in formal language.
  • In Indonesia, when you address someone, it would consider more polite if you use these specific terms before mentioning the name: Bapak (in short – Pak) for Mr., Ibu (in short – Bu) for Mrs., Mas for young man and Mbak for Miss/ young woman.
  • If you disagree with someone, or if you want to express your dissatisfaction, avoid to raise your voice, and to lose your composure.
  • Don’t shake a hand, or give some things to Indonesians with left hand, it’s disrespectful. Because left hand Indonesian use usually for “dirty” works.
  • Smile and say “hello” for everyone that you pass, even if you don’t know that person (especially in Java island).
  • Remember to remove your shoes or sandals at the door to a house. In some shops, public places you will see as well that people removes their shoes – so just follow the locals and will be easy to know when to remove it.
  • Don’t wear translucent clothes, slippers, shorts, very open T-shirts, or short skirt/dress in the formal places (university, office room, immigration office and etc.). It’s impolite and disrespectful.
  • In Indonesia, people are more discreet than in Europe or other countries. Usually girls wear a T-shirt, rarely a low-cut or a sleeveless T-shirt. Nobody will criticize you because of your clothes; nobody will do anything but don’t feel harassed when you get stares.
  • One-piece swim costume better to wear in beaches where comes not a lot of tourist or just swim with shorts and T-shirt – like its common between Indonesian people. Separate swim costume can wear in touristic beaches.
  • Don’t act in public too intimate – kissing, hugging, excessive touching (especially in Muslim islands).
  • When pointing at something, people (especially Javanese) tend to use the thumb rather than an index finger.
  • Avoid standing with hands on hips as it can be construed as anger or a threat (especially in Java island).
  • Avoid touching or passing object over the top of anyone’s head as it is viewed as the most sacred body part.
  • If you visiting Indonesian people (especially in Java island) is polite to stay in his/her place till 9:00-10:00 pm, if this person is very close friend, relative you can stay till 11:00 pm (on Saturday, during celebrations as well you can stay till this time). If in the house lives only foreigners, local people are more flexible with visiting hours – but they will be appreciate if loud music, activities that makes noise after 10:00-11:00 pm would be reduce.
  • If you are guy and visiting Indonesian girl it’s much better if you stay with her outside in terrace or inside with a bit open entrance doors – it will help avoid gossips that inside something happen. As well don’t be surprised if you are foreigner girl and Indonesian guy during visit will suggest to sit outside open area, not inside the house. These things are more common in Java island.

As well Indonesians (especially kids, teenagers) when they greet and elder (a respected person in the community, a teacher, parents, grandmother, and etc.), move their offered hand to slightly touch their forehead, named “salim”. Like a foreigner you are not obligatory to do that.

And most important thing, don’t call anyone “dog” – “anjing” – because it’s lower than a human. Like in Indonesia most of the people are Muslims, “dog” counted like “dirty” wight, so if you call someone like this it means you call him “dirty unhuman”.

Information used from Javanese people sharing and internet sources, as well some pictures.

Good manners in Indonesia
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  • What other good manners you found out in Indonesia?
  • Do you have any similar good manners in your home country?
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Indonesian people lifestyle

If you haven’t been before in any Asian country, maybe after you will come to Indonesia, you will have slighter (or bigger) cultural shock. The main thing – come to Indonesia with open eyes and heart, without any attitudes or negative wonder. Don’t judge Indonesian people, culture and country – just accept it how it is.

Some things that you should know before coming to Indonesia about Indonesian people lifestyle and maybe it will help you not have cultural shock.

People behavior

  • Curiosity: Indonesians are very curious people. In the first meeting they can ask very personal questions. They do not mean to be impolite or disrespect your privacy with asking these questions, this is the way how they try to be friendly with strangers.
  • Staring: in Indonesia, it is not considered impolite to stare. Sometimes when you are out in public, you will feel yourself the object of staring. Adults will point you out to their children; people will stop what they are doing to watch you, etc.! The fewer foreigners in the area, the more stares you are apt to receive.
    Most expats deal with the staring by just ignoring it. There is really nothing you can do about it; no matter how uncomfortable you are, it will always happen!
  • Meeting agreements: when you plan something with Indonesian you should know that “tomorrow” (“besok”) doesn’t have exactly the same meaning than ours. If Indonesian says “Besok kita makan bersama” – it can mean “We eat together tomorrow” or “We eat together in 2 or 3 days” and etc. depends on the context. The same with “yesterday” (“kemarin”) it can mean “yesterday”, “the day before yesterday”,”one week ago” and etc.
  • “Elastic Hour” (“Jam karet””): if you agreed to meet at one time and your friend comes one hour later, smiling as nothing wrong – it’s nothing wrong in Indonesia. Punctuality is not so important in Indonesia. Don’t think that your friend doesn’t respect you because he is late. Don’t be offended, rather adopt. Indonesian time, which is really relaxing.
  • Respect showing: to show respect to parents, elder people, teachers and etc. younger people take their hand and touch their forehead (“salim”).
    Politeness: smiling is very prevalent and is often used even when people don’t like something or they don’t agree.
  • Laughing: if you ask someone to do something, but he cannot do it, laughing could be a way to express his embarrassment. The Javanese society is based on the concept of “rukun”, that is to say the willing to make peace and harmony the main priority in social relationships. The main point on Javanese culture is the willing to avoid all kind of clashes, or conflicts. Then, the difficulty for Javanese people to say no could be due to the willing to avoid conflicts.
  • Answers: if people don’t understand something or doesn’t know something, they still will show that they understand and know, like they don’t want to embarrass the other person by making them repeat the question.
  • Showing the way: most of the time, as often in Asia, Indonesian people are not used to read map and usually it’s hard understand when they explain how to get to any place. Better to ask several different people how to get to the place, like Indonesians even if they don’t know they want to help and say things that they think they know.
  • Explaining directions: only in Yogyakarta if you want to go somewhere and asking Indonesians how to get there, they will explain everything not in “ turn left”, “turn right” way but saying the main direction: North (direction to Merapi),  South (direction to Parangtritis), West (direction to Kulon Progo or sunset), East (direction to Prambanan/Solo or sunrise). So try to go from Kasongan (South) to UGM university (North) by Indonesian explanation: “From the gate of Kasongan, go to the North. You will pass 5 traffic lights. On the 6th traffic light go a little bit North and turn to East then turn to North side again. On 7th traffic light – turn East. You will pass 2 traffic lights, on 3rd traffic light – turn to North and will see UGM gate”. Do you think you will manage to reach the place? :).
    Beeping all the time: in the roads you will hear many beeps. Don’t worry Indonesians do that often not because you did something wrong, but because they want to inform you that they are coming
  • Shaman: Indonesian goes to shaman instead of doctor (when they get sick) or police (when they got robbed). It’s happening especially in villages.
  • Fever cure: if Indonesians have fever they do “kerok” – scratch the back and front body with metal money. To wind get out from the body, they believe that wind makes them get fever.
  • Indonesians wakes up very early: like most of them are Muslim, first they go to pray ~ 4:00 am (morning praying) and after that – start their daily works. Not all of them like this, but in villages it’s most common.
  • Walking habits: usually Indonesians don’t walk; use the vehicles even if they need to go to shop that is 5min. walk by foot.
  • Coughing and sneezing: it is not common for traditional and less educated people in Indonesia to carry handkerchiefs or tissues, and often they do not understand how diseases are spread. Therefore it is not unusual to see people coughing or sneezing openly without attempting to cover their mouth or nose.
  • Spitting: this habit is particularly common during the fasting month. Some strict Muslims refuse to swallow their own saliva while fasting, and spit saliva onto the ground or in the street. Gargling and spitting is part of the ritual cleansing before Muslim prayers.
  • Smoking: the vast majority of Indonesian men smoke, excessively! There are many public spaces where you will inevitably have to breathe in cigarette smoke. A law that banned smoking in transportation terminals, malls, offices, hospitals, schools, and universities, places of worship, buses, trains and playgrounds has been in effect in Jakarta since 2006, but it is not entirely enforced.  Most office buildings and public areas of malls are complying; however, there will still be a smoking section in most restaurants.
  • Long thumbnails: sometimes you will see an Indonesian man with one or two very long nails, usually the thumbnail. This is intended as an indication of his status as a non-manual laborer or worker.
  • Wetness: a traditional Indonesian bathroom contains a trough of clean water, from which water is scooped up in a plastic dipper (“gayung”) and poured over the body while standing on the floor of the bathroom. After soaping up all over, more dippers full of water are splashed over oneself to rinse off. This same practice is utilized when going to the toilet, resulting in very wet toilet seats!



Eating habits

  • Using hands: mostly Indonesians use hand (“muluk”) to eat food.
  • Tools: you can see that people as well eating with spoon and fork, but very rare with knife. Like they believe that knife is a weapon as well, they can do everything with the hand – so why use the knife?  The spoon they use in the right hand and fork in the left (or vice versa for lefthanders). The fork holds food steady while breaking off portions with the spoon, and is used to assist in loading up the spoon by pushing food into it. Most food is cut up into relatively small pieces before it is cooked, although chicken and duck are usually served on the bone, and fish is often served whole.
  • Indonesian use to eat fast and silently.
  • Place: sometimes Indonesian food is served and eaten not at a table, but on woven mats covering a low platform or the ground. This style of eating is called “lesehan” and is common in Yogyakarta and Central Java as well as West Java.
  • Rice: Indonesians eat rice 3 times per day (with fish, vegetables, egg and etc.). “Kalau belum makan nasi, belum makan” (if you haven’t eaten rice, you haven’t eaten), which implies that no matter what snacks you have consumed, you have not had a proper meal until you have filled your tummy with rice in some form or another. They should eat rice once per day at least to feel good.
  • Cold food: most often in “warungs” and “angrigans” you can get a bit warm or cold food, like food prepared earlier and nobody warm it, you just select  from food what is ready and you see in front of you. It’s nothing surprised to eat cold rice, chiken, boiled vegetables or other dishes.
  • Burping: it is not considered impolite to burp, and can even be regarded as a sign of appreciation of a good meal, therefore Indonesians generally do not excuse themselves after burping.

Other

  • Working hours: mostly small shops or eating places doesn’t have working hours. One day they can be open at one time, next day – at another. The activities (school, work and etc.) usually start at 7:00-7:30 am.
  • Evening time: at 6:00 pm usually is totally dark outside and after 10:00 pm (especially in the villages)  is very quiet (like people goes to sleep after early waking up).
  • Couples living: it’s taboo and immoral if in the same place lives a couple, who is not married (especially in the villages). Even if the couple is foreigners, most of communities don’t accept them and don’t let rent a place there. The owner will ask for a wedding certificate before renting his place to a couple. There can be exceptions depending on the community leader liberality.
  • Hair cutting: there are special barber places only for cutting man’s hair.
  • Pharmacy: in some pharmacy (especially in smaller towns, villages) they can ask you to show marriage paper before selling contraception pills. Officially it’s not allowed to have sex before marriage and if you are not married it means you don’t need such pills.
  • Toilets: mostly in toilets there is no flushing system, so you need to use water from container. Also most places has “Turkish style” (squat) toilet, you can find sitting style as well but don’t expect that it will be everywhere :) Indonesian people do not use toilet paper, but they wash them self with water, always available in WC. Indonesian people use the left hand to wash themselves, while they keep the right hand to shake hands and to eat. If you cannot do without toilet paper, always keep with you a package of tissues.
  • Hot water: there is no hot water (only you can find it in hotels, rich people houses or sometimes in villages near mountains). It can be a bracing and refreshing experience to bathe from a traditional “bak mandi”, as only room temperature water is used. Warm water is only for babies, the elderly or the sick.
  • Animals at home: roaches, geckos, small lizards, ants, mice and etc. are usual animals at home that you can see on your walls, hear sounds on the roof.
  • Language: Indonesia are bilingual – use national language “bahasa Indonesian” and local language for example “bahasa Java”.
  • Refilling: you hardly will find services for which you need the contract. You need drinking water or gas – you buy water or gas gallons and refill it; you need electricity – you buy “pulsa” put the code in your counter and have it; you need to use internet or mobile-you pay for “pulsa” and seller will put needed information to his mobile and you have it. For Indonesians everything should be easy – agreements for services makes everything too complicated.
  • Trashes: don’t surprise to see everywhere the trashes. Like Indonesian people throw it anywhere – to the river, just straight on the street or even in front of their houses.
Information used from Javanese people sharing and internet sources, as well some pictures.
Lifestyle of Indonesian people
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SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS

  • Does any of these Indonesian people lifestyle examples reminds you any from your country?
  • You know more Indonesian people common behavior? What kind of?
  • To which of these things would be hard for you to adapt?

LIKE WHAT YOU READ? #LetsTravelInAsia

Subscribe here and receive tips, stories for your next trip straight to your inbox! Follow my adventures on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and get updates!

Interesting? Great! :) You might also like these:

Good manners in Indonesia
How to do things in Indonesian style
Asian people are not poor – they live easy