40 Signs You Have Been In Indonesia Too Long

I have spent more time in this archipelagic nation than in any other country…some might even argue that I’ve been in Indonesia too long. And you know what, maybe I have been. But there is a good reason for this, a method behind my madness if you will.

For every new place I visit here I learn about two more that I need to visit. At this pace I’ll be here forever! During the last six months I’ve had a memo on my phone where I’ve made brief notes every time I catch myself doing something that proves they are right: I have been in Indonesia too long. Gue orang Indonesia sekarang. (I’m Indonesian now.)

This list is intended to be a humorous compilation of life in Indonesia through the eyes of a bule (Caucasian) who is now guilty of doing all of these. So please, enjoy!

You May Have Been In Indonesia Too Long If…

…You are more used to using toilet paper as napkins during meals than in the bathroom.
…You add ‘ya’ to the end of every sentence, regardless of whether you are speaking in English or Bahasa Indonesia.
…Locals *stop* asking to take photos of you.

Local girls in Siak crowd around for a photo with a bule
Posing with a group of local girls in Siak during the Tour de Siak

…You think getting dressed up means throwing on a batik shirt with your shorts and sandals.
…You are so fluent in Bahasa slang (which varies city to city) that you sometimes have to explain to locals what a word means.
…You consider red lights, stop signs, traffic lanes and one-way street mere suggestions.
  See More   Indonesia By Motorcycle: How, Why, Where, Advice & Tips
…Paying more than 5,000IDR/kilo ($0.45-$0.50USD) for laundry is akin to robbery.
…You no longer look before crossing a busy highway on foot, just assume that the motorists will see and avoid you.
…You are willing to pay to use a toilet that you would never go near at home.

The dirtiest, nastiest pay toilet I have ever seen in my life. In Java, Indonesia.
I thought the purpose of a pay toilet is that your money goes towards keeping it clean…

…You’ve forgotten how to use silverware because you only eat with your hands (err hand that is, right one only).
…You wash your hands after finishing the meal instead of before.
…You know what a cabe2an is.
…You sleep soundly through the call of prayer. Or, even better, wake up with it at 4:30, excited to start your day. (via Luke, @WildSumatra)
…The sight of a bald overweight 60+ year old white man with his teenage Indonesian girlfriend no longer confuses or creeps you out.
…The footprints on the toilet seat are your own.
…Putting on shoes is considered “too formal — just wear sandals.” (via Rani, @juwita_maharani)
…You text while driving…a motorcycle…at 80km/hr.
…You can ride side-saddle on the back of a motorbike, holding groceries, and don’t feel the need to hold on. (via Leigha, Mrs @WildSumatra)
…Killing cockroaches with your bare feet is just part of an ordinary day.
…You start to sprinkle shelf-stable pseudo-cheese on all your desserts. (via Luke, @WildSumatra)
…You can’t help but put your hand to your heart after shaking someone’s hand. (via Luke, @WildSumatra)
…You can bob and weave your motorcycle perfectly to avoid every single pothole, even in the middle of the night.
…Your family car is a motorcycle.
…You start pronouncing your English ‘c’s like ‘ch’
…You aren’t scared to drink the tap water.
…Your girlfriend is younger than your friends’ daughters back in your home country.
…It’s perfectly normal to think “why take a taksi when we can take an ojek?”
…You honestly believe that if sidewalks weren’t meant for driving then they would never have been paved.

Indonesia By Motorcycle: Traffic Jam
Why are there no official speed limits in Indonesia? Because of traffic.

…Putting an arm around your male friend while walking down the street or riding on the back of a motorcycle no longer seems “gay” to you.
…You aren’t scared to eat at a warung right next to a garbage dump.
…It’s 28Β°C in the house and you have no fan but still need to cover up with a blanket in order to sleep.
…You no longer wait in line, but instead go immediately to the head of the queue.
…You double up on words when speaking your native language (“I’m going to meet friends friends”)
…When you see a bug in your food or beer yet you continue eating/drinking.
…You miss the spray toilets when on vacation outside of Indonesia. (via Luke, @WildSumatra)
…A piece of trash falls out of your pocket and rather than bend all the way down to pick it up you just leave it on the street/floor.
…You no longer wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
…The floor of a nice restaurant is a perfectly fine ashtray.
…You’re able to drive 80km/hr with mere millimeters between you and the other traffic whizzing around you but cannot back into an empty parking space without a jukir yelling “kiri…kiri…terus, terus, terus…”
…There is nothing wrong with smoking a cigarette right next to a sign reading dilarang merokok (smoking forbidden).

Dilarang Merokok

…You know what a tweetwar is.
…You have been involved in a tweetwar.
…You put on gloves and a jacket to ride a motorcycle, despite the fact that it is 35Β°C out.

Which Is Your Favorite?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel." Β  Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

33 thoughts on “40 Signs You Have Been In Indonesia Too Long”

  1. I suppose after long period of European colonialism, Indonesians addopted only relatively few terms and expression -compared to some other countries. “Ya” ( “Ja”) is being used excessively though, even me can’t stop using it abusively in whatever language I speak. And when we talked about your plan to visit Indonesia, did not know you’d get hooked ;d

  2. Hahaha mahal yaaaaaa πŸ™‚ Well maybe its just me, I used to own a truck and was always reversing into parking spaces or backing up to attach a trailer. Guess I’m just used to it Cinantya lol.

  3. Sorry Derek….you don’t qualify, no matter how long you have been there, you just too tall….you stand out in a crowd. You can’t walk around on your knees because you would be too short and would trip everyone so again you fail to qualify…. Then there is that Muddled American English. Sloopy…..You just think you qualify. ha ha ha ha ha

  4. Not a day goes by here that I don’t hit my head Russ lol. You’d think at some point I’d learn to duck but just hasn’t happened yet. And as far as finding shoes or ummmm…how to keep this G-rated….latex accessories in my size, well that’s just downright impossible.

  5. ha ha ha ha ha ha see…you agree…you don’t qualify…..you just don’t fit…or is that fit in (right). And your probably going a little dingy (hey, I didn’t say going a little stupid) from hitting your head so many times. See, I can be nice. ha ha ha ha ha I don’t care what people say! LOL

  6. I’ll even bet if you sleep in a bed….your feet stick out over the bed end if you sleep on your back. And if there is a dog, you wake up when the dog licks your feet. LOL

  7. Lol Russ yeah you’re probably right, I think I am starting to lose my marbles. And yes, I don’t fit in many of the beds here and yes again, I highly doubt any of those ladies in that featured photo have completed high school.

  8. Derek….you dirty old man…shame on you….ha ha ha ha ha one morning when you wake up with that wet dream, I hope that dream of someone licking your toes is a slobbering dog. ha ha ha Gotcha.

  9. Tapi sekarang udah susah tu mas, untuk bisa pose kayak di foto terakhir. Kalo ketahuan, resiko diturunin di stasiun terdekat. hehehe….

  10. Those thing you said is true, especially the “throwing garbage carelessly”, “smoking anywhere”, and motorcycle in pedestrian way. As much i love this country, i always pray that someone should banned those act, for non smoker and pedestrian like me thoose things are very innapropriate. And most of the time when i warned those stupid ppl they yelled at me as if it is my fault *sighsighsigh*

    • Yes, very true. Of course there is a fine line between enough legislation and too much. Take America for example, or even Singapore. Too many things are illegal and the residents are left feeling stifled and no longer free.

      No country does everything right. As a permanent traveler I’ve come to realize this and am not ashamed to say it. However there is much we can learn from each others, and each country needs to take steps towards improving the well-being of it’s citizens. I love Indonesia with all my heart, it’s where I always return home to in between trips, and where I plan on eventually attaining citizenship.

    • Lol thanks…I think πŸ˜‰ Yeah time has flown by really fast here…good friends, lots of times, so many great foods to try and countless places to explore. But now it’s off to somewhere new. Not sure where that will be just yet…

  11. I’m going to meet my friends friends. LOL

    So i was looking looking some interesting posts of a traveller on google and i found you! Hahaha
    speaking of travelling, have you been to East Nusa Tenggara? The coral reefs will blew you away!!!

    • Meeting friends in Indonesia, yeah? Love it there! But I haven’t made it out to East Nusa Tenggara yet. Want to visit there, Papua and Timor Leste at the beginning on next year. So many of my Indo friends have gone scuba diving out there and all have amazing things to say πŸ™‚

  12. How do biker in different cities of Indonesia use their cell phone? is Bluetooth normal for them? stuck it inside the helmet? or dont answer the incoming call when they are driving ?
    coz from the best I know they are a lot of hand phone and a lot of biker in Indonesia.

  13. Haha, one of the great sign “You are more used to using toilet paper as napkins during meals than in the bathroom” πŸ˜€
    Anw, Thanks for great article!


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