Indonesia may consist of a hell of a lot of islands, of which I have only explored two, but there’s a few things in common I have noticed so far…
1. Rules of the Road
When driving in Indonesia, you should overtake and hoot everything, road signs hold no meaning and when crossing the road as a pedestrian, you are at the bottom of the hierarchy. Even on a crossing, even if the little man is green.
2. The Village Gates
I’ve noticed across Bali and Java that when a village or community stems off from a main road, there tends to be an arch, or at least some pillars to let you know where you’re heading into. I quite like the idea. They are all quite personal – some are, I assume, sponsored by mobile phone networks, some display the date of independence and some are painted beautifully. These are my favourites, they look very grand, like you’ll be greeted by Mickey Mouse at the other end with Jiminy Cricket on his shoulder and magic in the air. On the other hand, the worst ones look like the gate into Auschwitz. They may as well draw up a sign, “You don’t wanna be passing through here. Rape, pillage, murder, we’ve had it all ‘ere”.
Maybe I’m being too harsh, after all you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover, so why judge a village by it’s entrance arch? Who knows, behind the bright green one decorated with the independence date some twisted Walt Hitler could be waiting to attack.
3. No Smoke Without Smoke.
I hate smoking. Literally hate it. However, here in Indonesia, I would estimate maybe 80% of the population smoke. I think you can even buy chocolate cigarettes if my weak Bahasa Indonesian has taught me anything. And if there’s no-one smoking around you, then don’t worry, there’ll be a plastic fire not too far away to fill your lungs instead.
4. Double Standards.
This could be interpreted in a few ways. Number one; Indonesians are very house proud and will spend LOADS of time sweeping dead leaves from their porch….but the toilet may leave much to be desired. Number two; You could be driving through what appears to be a run down ol’ town full of shacks and bamboo hut houses…and suddenly pass the most amazing looking Mosque. Number three; Remember, the white people are infinite pits of money, this means tourists pay more!! I understand this isn’t exclusive to Indonesia but it’s very annoying.
Indonesia is like a really annoying friend. A bit smelly, might creep up on you and scare you for no reason, but you always have fun together so you keep seeing each other. (Don’t worry, I’m not thinking of anyone I know/have known/will know!) This is why I’m planning on coming back. I know, right?!
“But you hated Bali!”
“And that Couchsurfing girl!”
“And there’s rubbish everywhere!”
Yes, I know. But I want to like Indonesia. I think now, I’m half way there! I’m hoping Sumatra will make us friends for life. Maybe we’ll get those half heart necklaces to prove it.