The Little Things That Make Indonesia, Indonesia

Today is Indonesia’s independence day which is why our #CeritaJalanAsik’s theme is Travelling in Indonesia. So today I will be talking about the little things that you should notice when you travel in Indonesia as they are the ones that make this country unique and different from the rest of the world.

We know we are not a perfect country, in fact we are far from perfect. Our government is still corrupted, the public transportation is awful and while our people are known to be friendly and all smiles, we are quite the opposite while driving on the road.

Yes Indonesia has many flaws that I can even write a whole post about it, but against it all I miss this country like crazy whenever I am away from it. Home will always be this crazy country even when I have fallen in love with other countries too. So, as this is its independence day, these are the things I love to see when I travel in my own country. If you’ve been here or considering travelling to Indonesia, keep your eyes open for these little things that make Indonesia, well, Indonesia.


You will notice that food is something we worship. You can never go hungry in Indonesia because in every few metres, you will always find a “warung” or a stall. From stalls that sell basic needs (like a traditional supermarket) to stalls that sell the simplest of food. Although many modern restaurants are popping up here and there, these warungs are the true representation of Indonesia. Here, you’ll find locals sipping tea while devouring hot banana fritters. Here, you’ll hear locals talking about their neighbour’s son getting married and all other juicy gossips. Here, you’ll see locals relaxing while complaining about how fast our country is changing and wishing they could go back to the “good old days”.

The “Travelling Food Carts”

When Indonesians are lazy to cook and don’t feel like going out to find food, they simply stay at home and wait for these “travelling food carts”. Back when food deliveries were non-existent, I remember waiting for my bakso cart or my putu man. They are food carts but they travel to neighbourhoods while offering their food. They usually come by in the evening. You can tell which food it is as each cart makes different sounds. For example, the “ting ting” sound made by tapping a spoon on a bowl means that’s the bakso (Indonesian meatballs) cart, the “puff puff” sound made by the steam coming out of steamed bamboos means that’s the putu (a Javanese dessert consisting of rice flour with coconut sugar inside) cart, while the famous call of “teeee sateeeee” is the sate man.

A bakso cart selling its goodness

Nowadays you can still find some carts travelling in neighbourhoods and you’ll often see them stopping, serving their loyal customers. Neighbours will come out, bringing their empty bowls or plates to be filled, while chattering away with their friends. These carts don’t only give us food, it also brings neighbours closer together.

Roadside food cart

Approachable People

I wasn’t kidding when I said Indonesians are one of the friendliest people in the world. Most of us are very approachable and could start a conversation with a stranger just like that. I can’t remember how many times I’ve been lost travelling in unfamiliar parts of Java and asking strangers the right way. I still remember when my car broke down and how a guy managed to summon a few of his friends to help fix my car. There were also times when I stumbled upon a random warung and started chatting with the owner about life. Sometimes I find this amusing, even as an Indonesian myself, how we could open up about things with complete strangers, but I guess that’s just what makes Indonesia, Indonesia.

Talking to a coconut seller in Bali about her sons and her life struggle because it’s totally normal to do that with strangers

Bargaining is a National Sport

We love to bargain. If we could bargain in a supermarket, we would. I personally think it’s not about prices anymore, it’s just the thrill of it. You get this amazing interaction with the seller, and even crack up a few jokes here and there, giving “threats” that we would leave and buy elsewhere (even when we all know we won’t), and at then finally sealing the deal with only 1,000-2,000 IDR less than the original price. Oh, and when you manage to bargain way low than its original price, it’s THE story to brag to your neighbours and friends. Happiness is in the little things here in Indonesia.

Bargaining bananas

Architecture Heaven

You may know this little thing we have called Borobudur? Yeah, we have amazing temples that dates back to forever ago and still standing now. Apart from that, if you go the small kampung (small neighbourhoods located within a city or in the outskirt of a city), you will see so many amazing wooden works on the windows, doors, chairs and everything else. I LOVE it! Most of them are painted in bright colours, which may seem ridiculous at first, but actually makes sense when you see the place as a whole plus it makes the neigbourhood so lovely to gawk at.

Lovely colour combo!

So, have you been to Indonesia? What do you most love about my country?


Read about Febby of Jalan2Liburan’s husband’s favourite Indonesian foods, it’s always nice to see Indonesia from a foreigner’s perspective.

Also, read about Travelling in Indonesia according to Noni of Nyonya Sepatu.


#CeritaJalanAsik is a weekly travel theme where we share our travel stories based on a certain theme by Jalan2Liburan, Nyonya Sepatu and Dream Explore Wander. Check out our posts every Wednesday!

This week’s theme: Travelling in Indonesia

6 Comment

  1. even Obama still remember ‘sateeeee’:D

    ah yes, home sweet home if you are far away!

    1. Sayang ya skrg jarang yg lewat2 itu, padahal dulu gw suka banget sore2 nongkrong nunggung abang sate ama bakso hihihihi

  2. Aku setuju dengan semua yang kamu tuliskan di sini Aggy. Tahun kemarin aku mengikuti kegiatan volunteer program pemerintah kota Den Haag, memperkenalkan negara asal ke anak2 sekolah usia 12-16 thn. Aku pernah tulis ceritanya di sini Yang kupresentasikan Indonesia dari sisi kekayaan kulinernya. Ga nyangka murid2 dan gurunya antusias banget, nanya ga berhenti2 sampai aku kewalahan jawabnya. Mereka bengong pas kujelasin makanan di Indonesia itu bisa ribuan jenisnya. Dan mereka juga kaget pas aku bilang kalau makan pagi, makan siang dan makan malam di Indonesia ga ada bedanya, sama besar porsinya haha. Mereka suka banget sama gambar2 makanan yg ada di slide, termasuk abang jual bakso dan segala rombong dan warung :))). Positif banget reaksi mereka. Setelah ngisi di 4 sekolah, aku dapat permintaan ngisi di beberapa sekolah lagi, ada yg kutolak karena jadwalnya bentrok sama jadwalku sekolah bahasa Belanda. Sampai overloading haha. Seru pokoknya. Beberapa gurunya ada yg pernah backpackeran ke Indonesia, dan terkagum dengan keramahan orang Indonesia. Beberapa kolega ku di kantor yg pernah ke Indonesia juga terkesan sama keramahan orang Indonesia dan makanannya. Meskipun ada yg nanya2 juga sih ttg kerusuhan.

    1. Wah seru banget ya, emang kalau masalah kuliner Indonesia itu top banget ya. Saya aja yg org Indonesia masih suka terkagum2 sama makanan di pulau2 lain selain Jawa, kayaknya buanyak banget macamnya ga abis2. Kalau berbagi sama teman2 di luar juga yg pertama kali kukenalin kulinernya dan selalu dapat respon yg positif hihihi

  3. To me Indonesia is an exotic country, specifically the far-flung places like Tana Toraja, Flores, Raja Ampat, which I am yet to visit. Having been to Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Bukittinggi, and Jogja so far, it is now time to venture further to these places. Definitely need to be back soon! 🙂

    1. I’ve also only been to several places in Java and Bali – I really should visit more! It is indeed an exotic country, hope you will be back soon!

Leave a Reply