Getting around Indonesia
Getting around Indonesia might sound like a daunting task, with 18,000 islands to navigate. Never fear, though – there is an extensive ferry system with which you can cross the entire archipelago.
Government run chains are the best, along with larger boats with visible safety equipment. Just keep in mind that delays and mechanical issues are a frequent occurrence, so it’s a good idea to bring something to do.
Not a fan of boats? In that case there are plenty of discount and reasonably priced airlines regularly flying between the Indonesian islands.
If you are staying within an island, the best way to travel between major cities is with local trains and buses. Trains serve Java and Sumatra, while other areas are served by buses.
For travelling within cities and villages, you have a range of options, including:
- Dokar: Horse-drawn carriage
- Becak: Pedal-powered cab
- Ojek: Motorcycle taxi
Indonesian culture and communication
Indonesians are known for being a friendly people, and will make you feel right at home. However, this also means that Indonesians will expect you to return that respect, so remember to be courteous at all times.
One way to show your respect to the local is by taking note of some cultural body language considerations. For instance, pointing something out with a single finger is seen as rude, so make sure you use your thumb or entire hand instead.
Also beware if you’re left handed – in Indonesian culture, the left hand is considered to be impure, so use your right hand when eating and shaking hands.
Some stances can make you seem hostile, particularly crossing your arms or putting your hands on your hips, so keep this in mind. Keeping your hands at your sides is usually a safe bet if you don’t naturally gesture when talking.
And smile! Smiling is very common in Indonesia, even among strangers, and returning a smile will make a good impression.
Finally, remember to respect cultural events in Indonesia, such as Silent Day on New Year's Day in Bali.