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10 Bizarre Indonesian Habits that Will Astonish You


indonesian habits, kerokan, eating with hand, tissue toilet,weird, funny
nasi liwet | qraved

Indonesia is a multicultural country that is populated with more than 260 million people. It has literally a thousand languages, a plethora of races, and a large number of beautiful islands. 

That’s why Indonesia has or uses Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, which means Unity in Diversity as our motto. Have you ever come to my country, guys? If so, you may find that Indonesians have unique habits or I should say, yeah, a little bit weird. 

And for you who are planning to visit Indonesia this year, this article, hopefully, may help you cope with them so that you don’t get surprised once you see them in real life.

This article is meant to give you some knowledge before finally deciding to have a trip to my country that’s famous for its hospitable people. Well, I’d love to hear it from you yourself whether it’s true or not.

Let’s get started!

1. Eating with Hand

As an Indonesian, I do eat with my hand, and I’ve to admit it that it feels much more satisfying than using a spoon, unless we eat or consume soup, noodles, porridge and so on. 

For people from other Asian countries such as Japan, China, or Korea, they would use chopsticks instead. I think that what makes you and I proud of our own cultures, right? The diversity is what makes this world an interesting place to live in.

2. Eating Rice Every Day

Indonesia is an agricultural country, and it’s one of the highest producing countries. In fact, Indonesia is the third largest one. Indonesians eat rice every day like 2 – 3 times a day. 

If you haven’t rice in a day, Indonesians will consider you haven’t eaten food at all. You may already stuff your stomach with pizza and is full now though. 

I believe this is unusual for you, but I speak the truth. When cooking noodles, we also include rice along with “kerupuk” or crackers.

3. Sambal

Asians love spicy food, me included. I love taking sambal when eating meals although I will get a stomach problem in the morning if I eat too much of it. Nevertheless, I repeat it like every day.

Basically, sambal is like sauce, but it’s made of lots of chilly with tomatoes that you roast with “ulegan.” A short wood or stone that has a wide surface on its head with tip handle.

Indonesians will say, “Enggak sedap rasanya makan tanpa sambal” (It feels off when eating without sambal). It’s like when you hang around with friends without talking about that cutie next door. 

 4. Toilet Paper to Clean Face

This is what Indonesians have or use to clean our faces or mouths after eating. It may sound ridiculous or weird, but I say the truth. I, myself, feel somewhat annoyed with it. But I have no other choices but to use it. 

When we leave hometowns for work and live in a flat, we usually go to a small restaurant that can easily be found scattering on the streets.

We usually go to Warung Tegal or Warung Padang to eat. These two small restaurants are ubiquitous in Indonesia. Tegal is a province in Central Java, and that’s where the name comes from. It’s known to have delicious food at an affordable price.

Warung Padang, on the other hand, is the rival that is also famous for its culinary that’s so peculiar that people would know that it’s Masakan Padang or Padang meals/cook. They usually put tissue toilet on the counter so that customers can take it. It’s weird but it’s true.

5. Using Water

When going to the bathroom in order to get rid of waste, people in many countries would use toilet paper. But if you come to Indonesia, you’ll find that Indonesians use water instead of toilet paper. 

Water can easily be found and I feel much cleaner too after using it. It’s just weird if I have to use toilet paper. And in fact, I’ve never used toilet paper for that in my entire life. 

That’s why you would not find tissue or toilet paper in many Indonesian house bathrooms as we prefer to clean it with water.

6. Kerokan

This habit might also make you “wonder what on earth you people do.” It’s called “kerokan.” I don’t do this very often, and I prefer taking an herb to kerokan. When we catch a cold, we typically ask a friend or someone who would scratch our backs.

This practice uses a coin and palm oil or balm. Firstly, one would rub your back with oil or balm and then start scratching it with a coin until you get red all over the back. And you’ll feel much better afterward.

7. Crossing Street

When crossing streets, people have to wait until the traffic lights turn green to walk or red for drivers. But Indonesians may often forget that rules and I also see the same thing in other countries, except Japan.

I, myself, sometimes forget the rules when I’m about to cross streets especially when I’m in Jakarta. It’s because Jakarta has a heavy traffic jam so that it makes people to cross streets without bothering taking a footbridge or walking on the zebra line. A bad habit you shouldn’t follow.

8. Taking Picture with Foreigners

Don’t get surprised when you’re addressed as Bule in Indonesia. People here love to call foreigners with yellowish hair, white skin, and pointed nose, in particular, that way. They might also ask you to take a picture with them as well.

The first time I talked with a foreigner was a few years ago when I met an appointment to meet a friend I knew from Facebook in Monas. 

We saw him when he was about to enter Istiqlal mosque, but it seemed that he was confused about how to get there, so we helped him. He spoke English so fast with a low tone, and I felt as if I were deaf.

9. Living with Parents

It’s very common that adults still love with their parents particularly those people who aren’t married yet just like me. Even if we do, parents wouldn’t mind living with them because they want to look after their grandchild.

Let’s say you are the only child or the youngest one and get married. It’s highly likely that you’ll live with your parents or parents in law together. Unlike people from certain countries that tend to live separated from their parents.

10. Barely On Time

It’s not all Indonesians love to arrive late, but it happens like all the time. For example, if we make an appointment, some of us may arrive late, and that what triggers other people to do the same thing. 

And that’s a common thing here, which I myself detest. Again, not all Indonesians, but frankly there many. 

I love when reading about Japanese culture that they always try to be punctual, and it’s become a habit that’s followed but people or foreigners who live, study or work there.

That’s it. Those are 10 bizarre Indonesian habits that will astonish you, and I hope you like them. Let me know if there’s something you would like to ask by commenting here down below.

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