Lifestyle and Culture in Indonesia
Indonesians are characteristic of communicating indirectly. Indonesians, in general, avoid confrontation and avoid showing negative feeling as a way to maintain a harmonious condition in society. Everyone is expected to be looking out to not offend others and to understand unspoken needs. Indonesians find it very hard to ask for help or to be the bearer of bad news.
One matter that needs to be pointed out first is that it is difficult to talk about 'Indonesian culture' in general. The country contains hundreds of cultures that differ in variable degrees. When a Muslim from Aceh (in the far west of Indonesia) meets an animist Papuan (in the far east of Indonesia) there seem to be more differences than similarities (in religion, clothes, lifestyle, traditions, native language and so on). As it would be impossible to describe all Indonesian cultures here we therefore present a list of general features that seem to be shared in most regions of Indonesia.
With a thriving economy and attractive expat salaries on offer, an expat's lifestyle in Jakarta can be full of comforts and luxuries. Indonesia is officially a secular country, and there is a relative freedom of religion there. However, 90% of its citizens follow Islam and the country has the largest Muslim population in the world, although there are Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist minorities in Indonesia as well. As a result, you may find that many businesses close early on Friday afternoons for prayers (jumu'ah); and various Islamic practices, such as Ramadan, are observed, while holidays, such as Eid, are widely celebrated.
Traffic can sometimes hinder leisure time during the week, so weekends are perfect for playing on the golf course, scuba diving expeditions and short holidays to the nearby islands. International companies often offer their employees three to four weeks' paid leave and, on occasion, paid tickets to the employee’s home country.
Bear in mind that it is not safe to drink water from the tap in Indonesia, so you will need to buy reusable bottles or boil water before consumption. If you are living in Indonesia on a long-term basis, then it's a good idea to purchase a water cooler and contact a water delivery company that will replace your empty bottles when they run out. These tend to be 19-litre bottles, so it will end up costing you less in the long run as you won't need to buy many, and the reusable.
After a week of working in the bustle of the city, you can kick back on a beach with a coconut, or soak up the culture in museums and at historical sites, or reflect on the wonders of nature in the national parks. There are also more than 150 volcanoes in Indonesia, which are known as gunungs, so hiking can be an enjoyable pastime for the adventurous (just be wary that over 125 of them are still active!) Alternatively, if you are a shopaholic, then major cities such as Jakarta, are a paradise for those with cash to splash, and there are massive malls that are usually packed on weekends. There are also many culinary delights to sample, and restaurants to suit every taste and budget, from street food to fine dining. Much better for the environment as well.