13 Local Etiquettes For Big-J’s New Settlers

First of all! Welcome !!! Jakarta is a city filled with wonders! Whatever you fancy, whether you’re an avid culinary adventurer or in-tune to the latest electronic clubland of the famous Jakarta’s nightlife has to offer! (FYI; Jakarta is one of the pioneers of underground raves and often referred to as the birthplace of South-east Asian underground rave scene back in the mid 90’s).

And if you’re starting out in the city, It’s never easy to walk on land you’ve never set foot on before and now most probably past the age of 20 you’re required to learn a new language, find a new group of friends, turn your 120m apartment into a home and the most crucial; having to manifest the skill of navigating through the intricate roads of Jakarta in order to avoid skyrocketing charges from taxis and of course, it helps to know where you are just to keep safe. Here are some do’s and don’ts that will help keep you sane and possibly fit in just a little bit more.

  1. Do take the time to try and pick up the language or even some slang words. Not only does it show signs of respect for the culture but also, you never know when you’ll need to bargain for a hot deal or simply just make friends with the locals. They’re super friendly!
  2. Do prepare yourself for a sore behind, as you’ll be spending countless hours in traffic. Be ready to work on the road or keep yourself entertained with a book.
  3. Do your best to keep calm in every situation! There’s nothing that can’t be solved peacefully. As the saying goes ‘Dalam demokrasi selalu ada solusi’ (Within a democracy a solution always exists) say it in Indonesian though, it rhymes.
  4. Do keep in mind that if you’re looking to fill up your gas tank on a Friday afternoon, stations like Pertamina are closed for Friday prayers from 12-1pm.
  5. Do invest in a batik dress/shirt, as on Fridays batik is commonly the casual outfit you’re supposed to opt for. On the 2nd of October 2009 UNESCO appointed Batik as the world heritage, which then lead to the government commemorating this day as National Batik Day. You never know when you’ll need it.
  6. Do keep in mind that if a little burp slips out, it’s not considered rude! In fact, this shows appreciation for good meals.
  7. Don’t look for love in the wrong places. Going to areas like Blok M only presents a certain type of women that are usually only after one thing, and it isn’t love.
  8. Don’t argue with an angry officer if you happen to get pulled over, it only makes things worse. Sometimes all they want is to make ‘peace’ if you know what I mean.
  9. Don’t use your left hand when giving/receiving anything, it’s known to be rude as the left hand is considered as unclean.
  10. Don’t talk about corruption, especially when speaking to an official. People tend to get defensive, as it’s a rather touchy subject; the same goes for political or religious views.
  11. Don’t aim to touch anyone’s head anytime soon, especially those older than you-unless you plan on offending him or her. The head is considered a sacred part of the body in Indonesian culture
  12. Don’t use slang words if you aren’t sure of what they mean! Some Indonesian slang words can be extremely offensive and people can be rather sensitive. Wouldn’t want to start stirring things up.
  13. When you stop at a warung or other street food vendors, and you’re going to ask them for directions or help, they would appreciate your gesture of getting down from the car instead of just rolling down your window.

Text : Sezen Zorlu & gs


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