First Impressions of Indonesia

Money

One US Dollar equals roughly $13,000 Rupiah. Everything here is dealt in the thousands, which makes me feel rich as hell. A bintang (beer) will cost you around 25K (any higher and you’re being ripped off), and a meal of Nasi Goreng with chicken will be around 35K. Getting used to dealing with money in the thousands is actually quite fun because you’re dealing with such big numbers when in reality you’re spending maybe $7 USD. The money here is so much more colorful than our boring US currency; 100,000 is red, 50 is blue, 20 is green, 10 is purple, 5 is tan, and 2 is grey. So fun!

Food

I’ve decided to break this category into two parts.
First, we have what I affectionately call “White people restaurants” and these places cater heavily to the Western tourists (mainly Australians). I have a feeling that there’s a different standard for Indonesians who work here, because most of them speak relatively good English and have great customer service skills. Eating here is a bit pricier than other options; it costs at minimum $10-$15 USD for a meal for two. You’ll find mostly Westerners at these places.

My favorite kind of place to eat is a warung. Warungs are small family-owned restaurants that are usually attached to someone’s home or just next door. Their hours of operation are whenever they feel like it, and the setting is extremely casual. Depending on the location and time of day, a meal for two can range between $1.80-$3.00 USD. The cuisine is predominantly Indonesian; think Nasi Goreng (fried rice), Mie Goreng (noodles), and Nasi Campur (rice with various meat & veggie dishes), etc. Sometimes they will feature “Western food” which is usually just a chicken schnitzel. There are almost always kids and dogs running around the warung as well. Definitely the more local and authentic dining option.

Groceries

There’s a large traditional market in the area called Berawa near our old villa. It’s open air and has a ton of stalls where locals sell all sorts of items, mostly fruits, veggies and locally handmade goods like baskets or sarongs. It gets lively during nighttime and people gather to play music while the kids play around the stalls. The 7/11 of Indonesia is called CocoMart. They’re open 24/7 and have the basic essentials you’d need, just the Indonesian version. We have yet to visit the big supermarket, but it’s on the main road and it’s called Pepito.

Laundry

No places have washer/dryers. Your best bet is to pay some woman to do it from her own home or a small shop. You’ll be charged by the kilo or per item. If they’re real fancy they’ll put a little tag on each item so that they don’t lose anything. The average price seems to be ~10K IDR/ $0.75 USD per kilo. Turnaround is two days, and it’s always perfectly pressed, smelling fresh. Not a bad deal.

Transportation

Everyone here rides motorbikes or scooters, even little kids. You will see cars, but the majority ride scooters because you can get to your destination a lot faster. Indonesian scooter drivers will cover up their entire bodies so that no skin is exposed while riding. They even wear gloves! Most of the Western tourists I’ve seen ride their bikes without helmets and wear minimal clothing, mostly just bathing suits. Imagine the road rash! Some Indonesians rip through the rice fields on their scooters barefoot, complete with a cigarette. Classic.

Religion

Indonesia as a whole is Muslim, but Bali is unique because they practice their own sect of Hinduism. Each day they place offerings at the entrance to their homes and on the temples in their homes. They’re little tray-like banana leaves filled with flowers, something sweet, and an incense stick that they light as they say a prayer. It creates a very beautiful scent, and it’s a very unique custom. I love that they take the time to make new offerings each and every day. I haven’t gotten to learn as much about Balinese Hinduism as I’d like, but I’m very curious about their other practices, especially during the full moon when they go to the temple and pray together.

Other random observations

People don’t flush their toilet paper here because they use natural septic tanks (I don’t want to know the details). Instead you throw it in the trash can.

Don’t brush your teeth with the tap water. I tried to be ‘tough’ and not use a water bottle and I weirdly had an upset stomach for two weeks. Then I switched the the bottle and felt great. Don’t cook with the tap water either. You can wash your hands with tap water, but that’s about it.

Construction workers will wear hard hats with flip flops, and will put their cigarette in their mouth only when their hands are busy using a saw or a drill.

If an Indonesian asks you if you’re married and you vehemently deny it, it’s considered insulting. Instead answering “maybe soon!” or just lying and saying yes will score you some major points.

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