Top 10 Endearing Indonesian Quirks

We had an amazing time in Indonesia. In fact, it’s the country we’ve spent the most time in during our trip, so far. Here are some fun Indonesian quirks we observed during our time there.

    1. Brightly colored cars, buildings, fences, houses, anything really. It is common to have brightly painted walls of different colors throughout a home, such as purple, green, etc.

      I distinctly remember driving around, seeing fully pink cars, blue buildings, and bright green living room walls, just to name a few.


    1. The distinctive smell of clove cigarettes everywhere, and the seemingly high percentage of men smoking them.

      In Yogyakarta, it was rare to see a male not smoking. The smell is a sweet clove smell, and it isn’t that bad. For some reason, we decided to try one (when in Rome). We were barely able to help each other finish just one cigarette, and gave the rest of the pack away to our dive guide. They were pretty thrilled.

Cigarettes being sold on the streets.
Cigarettes being sold on the streets.
    1. Cheap and amazing food carts lined the streets. Fruit stands littered the roads as well, feeding my obsession.

      I am in love with street food. I am never really sure what I am ordering, but have never been disappointed. I also consumed innumerable kilos of  mangosteen, langsat, and rambutan. It was amazing!

Langsat, rambutan, and mangosteen.
Langsat, rambutan, and mangosteen, being sold at every fruit stand.


  • Takraw, badminton, and volleyball were constantly being played, and the competition was tough.

    We were able to take part in both badminton and volleyball. I remember being pretty good at badminton back in elementary school, but I guess that was a long time ago. Volleyball on the other hand was a lot of fun, good competition, and a much easier language to communicate in.


Badminton, and the not too fierce duo.
Badminton, and the not too fierce duo.


  • Overly fine ground coffee, where there were spoonfuls of sludge left at the bottom of each cup.

    It was also hard, if not impossible, to find straight black coffee, and not the 3-in-1 packets (coffee, cream, sugar pre-mixed). Indonesians love their sweet drinks. I am not knocking the 3-in-1’s as we have thirty floating around in our packs. Options have just limited us to drinking what is available. I am not ready to cut cold turkey on coffee just yet, especially when Italy is in my very near future!


Finely ground coffee, leaving behind sludge.
Finely ground coffee, leaving behind sludge.


  • Gelatinous desserts. A different type of sweet, gummy, gelatin, almost weird consistency dessert. A sweet juice drink is also found everywhere, with jello type cubes floating around.

    It is fun baking and letting the Indonesians try our deep, rich, American desserts, as our sweets are as different to them as their gelatin is to us.




  • Openness for strangers to ask extremely personal questions.

    Where are you from? What do you do? How much do you make? Are you married? Where is your baby? I would consider myself an open book, so I do not mind the personal interrogations. The questions are pretty simple to answer as of late anyways, since we don’t have a home and quit our jobs.


Friend from Sija, who was interested in my story.
Friend from Sija, who was interested in my story.


  • The shock when they find out that I am married, but do not have a child.

    In the Indonesian culture, there is high pressure to have a child right away, regardless of age, once married. I let assumptions be made, as most think we are honeymooning… not pushing seven years of bliss!




  • Cultural mindset of equating beauty to being white and big(er).

    Higher status is obtained if you do not need to toil under the sun for a small wage and can afford to eat as much as you want. It is very refreshing to be considered beautiful (without using products or accessories), while sweating in this tropical humidity, wearing the same few clothing items over and over again, and going weeks without using a mirror.


One of the photos we were asked to be in during our Mt. Bromo hike.
One of the photos we were asked to be in during our Mt. Bromo hike.


  • Obsession with taking pictures of themselves, but even more so with a white person.

    I still do not understand this quirk, as it makes no sense to me at all, but we have been in hundreds of other peoples photos, whether we have agreed to it or not.



If you’ve been to Indo (or are from there), please let us know if we’re missing anything!

2 thoughts on “Top 10 Endearing Indonesian Quirks”

  1. Hey guys – I’ve been followng you for months…what a hoot! So proud of you and glad for this opportunity to see the amazing world our Father has made!

    Be safe and come home! If you happen to stop through O’Hare on your way back and want one more stopover, Julia and I would be glad to have you as guests a day or so!


  2. Love your observations and experiences. Those desserts indeed sound strange….glad you could share ours! Love the color factor!

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