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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Eating with hands, tools

For some people from other countries, especially who never have been in Asian countries, can be quite surprised to see how Indonesian people eats.

First of all, mostly Indonesians use right hand (“muluk”) to eat food. They do that because they believe that food taste better eating with hands as well after eating usually they lick the fingers to show satisfaction of food taste. In eating places usually waiter with food brings and small bowel with water – it’s for cleaning the hands before eating and after the food. If waiter won’t bring eating tools – you can ask to do that, usually they have them as well.

Second, 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?  Eating with hands for Indonesians more common, like they know what they did with their hands before. Using tools means that they don’t know how and who used it before, how it was cleaned and etc.

Eating with hands

It can be quite challenge for foreigners. Truly to say, till now I don’t used to eat with hands (yet) ;).
Pinch your thumb and fingers together around the food (usually done with rice), making it into a ball and eat! Will need some practice till you will enjoy this process ;).


Eating with spoon and fork

Did you ever try to eat with hands? You enjoyed? :)

 

Illustrations made by Hendra Arkan.

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How to save money in Indonesia

In Indonesia many foreigners feels like millionaires like here everything counted in thousands and millions. In one hand (comparing with Europe countries or others) in Indonesia you can say that everything is cheap but in another hand – when you live here longer and only from scholarship amount – you need to start to count and make some savings. So here is my recommendations how to save money during the stay in Indonesia. It’s just advices, nothing is mandatory. Even if I mentioned a lot about Darmasiswa scholarship, still everyone can save some money – foreigners students, travelers or employees. Also you will figure out something for yourself as well, after you spend some time in Indonesia.

Notice: all the prices written according 05 2015 information and from Yogyakarta south area.

Home

  • Renting: try to agree to rent the place for first 6 months and then extend renting 3 months more, like in summer you most probably will travel more than staying at home. Your stuff you can ask to keep in other Darmasiswa student’s house. If owner wants to rent for 12 months, try to negotiate to rent only 9 months then you can save some money for travels or other things.
  • Empty place or not enough things that you need:
    • First, asks the owner of the place, maybe she/he have and not use things that you need.
    • Check “Facebook” groups of Darmasiswa students, maybe somebody sells things that you need or put ad what you are searching for.
    • Check second hand shops (for furniture, electrical devices and etc.). You can find there cheaper stuff, but before compare similar stuff prices in regular shops. Maybe the differences of the price between new and second hand won’t be so big and in shop you will get guarantee, second hand shops doesn’t give it.
    • Some of the things you can make by yourself, for example bamboo shelter, you just need idea, measurements, bamboo and ropes. All tools you can borrow from the house owner or neighbors.
    • Sometimes Indonesian people, if doesn’t use things, leaves in front their house – if you will see something that you need, before taking just ask if you can take it for free.
    • If you need just one piece of something (bamboo, rock or whatever else) just ask to take it for free, therefore can bring some cookies.
    • If you would like sometimes to cook but at home don’t have stove, buy small travel stove. You can use it at home and will be useful for the camping or longer trips. If you won’t use it frequently – can rent it for other student’s trips.
  • Drinking water: check in different places the prices of new gallon and refills. Like in some places you can find cheaper than in others. Different brands have distinctively different tastes, so try different and choose that you like best.
  • Electricity:
    • Turn off all equipment that you don’t use for a night (for example water dispenser) or during you are leaving, traveling.
    • If the owner will ask pay monthly agreed sum with old electricity counter, ask to show the counter numbers and pay only for amount that you use (but ask this in the polite way, like such request can be understood like you are not trust the owner, calling them a thief).
    • For the new counter – you can buy at once bigger amount prepaid card (“pulsa”) of electricity.
  • Gas: check in different places the prices of new gallon and refills. Like in some places you can find cheaper than in others. Depends on the size of gallon will be different price.
  • Internet: if near around your place is any free Wi-Fi spot (in coffee places with Wi-Fi enough to order a drink) – go there to use internet instead of buying internet modem (if you are not internet addicted). Before decide to buy modem ask local students which operator they are using. Like some operators have better connection in one area than in another. So don’t take operator that has worst connection in your area. You can ask local students maybe somebody has internet modem that they don’t use. So they can sell you cheaper or give for free. For example I bought internet modem from local student for 150 000 Rp and the same one, new in the shop costs 270 000 Rp. In providers client service offices managers put “pulsa” without fee.
  • Textile: if you want to cover something or to buy curtains and etc. you can make it by yourself – there are places where you can buy textile by kilos or buy material in shops. There are many places that can sew for you what you want. It will cheaper than to buy already sewed stuff in the shop and you will have exactly what you want and need.

Food

  • Cook at home: if you calculate that cheaper to cook at home than eat in “warungs” – do it. The main thing, if you don’t have fridge the food won’t be fresh couple of days. The fruits are fresh in Indonesia, so you need it eat during maximum couple days, otherwise ants and other insects will make their job :D
  • Markets/ small shops: buy food and small stuffs in nearest market (better to visit in early morning till ~8:00 am) or in small shops near your place. For me was surprise that the same stuffs in big supermarkets are more expensive than in small ones. As well check couple of different small shops, sometimes even in the same street different shops sells cheaper the same stuff.
  • Neighbors: if it’s possible buy fruits, vegetables or other stuff from neighbors. It will make stronger relationship with neighbors as well you can get better price.
  • “Warungs”: eat in “warungs” in small streets. Check some streets around your place. Sometimes “warungs” in front of busy streets are more expensive than in small streets. For example “soto” (rice soup) in small street “warung” cost ~ 6 000 Rp, in bigger street ~ 10 000 Rp.
  • Imported food: everywhere imported food will be expensive. If you need some spices for your cooking (like oregano and etc.) ask to send your family from home country – probably in your country it’s more cheaper than here.

Clothes

  • Misfit: if you have some clothes that not fit you anymore, damage some parts and etc. instead of buying new, you can try to make from it something else. For example from pans – shorts, T-shirt with sleeves – without sleeves and etc.
  • Dislike: if you dislike some of your clothes, you can organize clothes exchange between other students. They will have as well things that they don’t wear anymore – so you can just change, instead of buying new ones.

Travels

  • KITAS (“Kartu Izin Tinggal Terbatas” – temporary stay permit card): to most of the visiting places you will get bigger discount with KITAS than with student card. So be patient and visit for example Borobudur after you will get KITAS.
  • Couchsurfing.com: during the travels stay in “couchsurfing” members places.
  • Local friends: ask you Indonesian friends maybe they have relatives of friends in place where you are planning to go, so maybe you could stay in their place, rent cheaper a motorbike and etc.
  • Time: go to trips during rainy season – the prices will be cheaper and in different islands rainy season is different. For example in January, when in Java was raining a lot, in Lombok island 3 weeks during my trip – wasn’t any rain.

Other

    • Ask local students which operator they are using, like mostly they are using the cheapest one and that has good connection in the exact area. But the cheapest one – sometimes means not the best quality of connection and sometimes can’t be reachable in some areas.
    • Before choosing operator answer yourself what you need mostly – write SMS, use internet in mobile and something else? Compare some operators prices by your requirements and then choose,
    • Instead of writing SMS you can use “Watsapp”, “Viber” like Indonesians use this programs more often that writes SMS and also it will be cheaper.
    • Put at once bigger amount of prepaid sum “pulsa” – like every time to put “pulsa” (for service) will cost.
    • Talk with local peoples/neighbors: usually they knows someone who can help you, knows someone who have something and etc. – so you can get things a bit cheaper.
  • Fuel for motorbikes: put the fuel in petrol stations it will be cheaper around ~500 – 1 500 Rp per liter than buy in the streets from bottles. In the evening the petrol stations can be closed, so take care to put fuel before, because at night people who are selling fuel in bottles asks more money than during the day time.
  • Natural products: instead of buying some chemicals product you can try to use naturals ones.
    • For example if your home floor is made from cement and it dusty, use coconut cutting – it will make your floor darker and the dust won’t stuck.
    • From coconut milk you can make some products for your skin, hairs (in internet there is many recipes).
    • To clean oily hands you can use plant (in bahasa Indonesian) “kemangi”.
    • Instead of buying air fresher for bathroom – use coffee, it will observe all bad smells in bathroom.
    • Talk with elder neighbors – they will give you many advices for what to use natural products.
  • Before buying anything: spend some time to check some different places and compare the prices of the same stuff. It can help you to save some money especially when you will just arrive and will need to buy some stuff as well for things that you are planning to buy quite often.
  • Laundry: if you don’t want to pay for laundry service – clean your stuff by yourself. To dry it during the rainy season will be a bit more difficult but possible.
  • Parking: usually the motorbike parking cost 1 000 – 2 000 Rp (other places and 3 000). If you are going somewhere with a friend with 1 motorbike (for example shopping in supermarket) the friend can stay on motorbike and you take all stuffs that needed – in such case the parking guys won’t charge you for parking fee.

 

The main tip how to save money – negotiate the price anywhere, anytime.

  • If you know that some things you will buy all the time, try to buy in the same seller to show your locality and ask to get those things cheaper.
  • Barge the price in second hand shops, markets. Like first price will be given like for foreigner, better even go with local friend, ask him to barge the price.
  • Ask a discount in transport and any other places – like you are student can show your student card.
  • If in the shop there are no price tags – you can negotiate the price.

Do you know other ways how to save money in Indonesia? Share your advice and help others! :)

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