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Saturday, October 12, 2013

Kindness On the Road: The Astounding Indonesian Hospitality

When you travel a lot (especially alone), you will always, always meet someone who'll do nice things for you even without asking for it. No matter how trivial, I am always grateful. I've always been blessed by a guardian angel of some sort every time I embark on a solo travel. In Malaysia, a stranger treated me like I was one of his daughters. Then another family in KL showed me a great amount of hospitality. A stray cat like me. Unbelievable. I must have been doing something really good to deserve all these.

in Malaysia 2012

But there are experiences that you'll remember the most and memories that will linger longer than the others. I just happened to experience this on my recent trip to Indonesia. Someone offered to host me in Yogyakarta (Jogja). I thought it'll just be a simple meet and greet, dinner over stories and that was it. Just like the normal CS meetings I'm used to. I was wrong. This guy took really good care of me when I was in Jogja. From day one until my last hours there. How? Oh, where do I start...

○ He comes running when I am alone. He was literally aghast every time I told him I am walking around on my own. I told him countless times that I'm fine, I'm used to it and that I've done it before in other countries. But no, he won't accept that. He made me feel like I am a damsel in distress even if I wasn't. He checks on me when I don't bother him. When he doesn't hear from me, he asks me of my whereabouts, if I'm with someone and makes sure I am doing okay.

@ The House of Raminten

○ He takes me to the coziest of restaurants. I am actually enthused by his taste. Candlelit and all that. He also patiently explains everything in the menu for me (all the local dishes). As in everything. He translates and teaches me Bahasa. And speaking of being patient, he always waits for me at the hotel lobby with a smile even though I always take a long time to get ready.

@ MY Steak Resto, in Giwangan

○ He drives hundreds of kilometers to take me everywhere I want to go. I don't know who else will be crazy enough to do that for me, incessantly.

Candi Sambisari

○ He politely asks the Tour Guides to speak in English so I would understand. He takes me to places he knew would make me happy. Temples, caves, beaches, local hang outs, night markets, anywhere.

tubing @ Goa Pindul

○ He's always behind me everywhere I go, so I know I am safe. He dragged me out of the cave when the water gets very high because he knew I can't swim.

spelunking @ Goa Sriti

○ He makes me try the tastiest local food and beverages because he knew I love eating local dishes when I travel. He quickly gets me my spoon and fork every time we eat in a traditional Indonesian restaurant where they only use their hands. I no longer have to ask or get it for myself. When something piqued my interest or ask him about something, he'll surely let me try it whatever it was.

@ First Lady Siti Hartinah's House in Solo

○ He brought me a different helmet on our second road trip. It must be my sunburnt face on our first trip or the more dangerous trail on the second one. Now, this one's funny. He took a picture of me in Tugu Monument. According to the Javanese beliefs, anyone who takes a picture with the monument guarantees a return in Jogja haha!

the magical Tugu ;)

○ He sent me off to the airport on my departure. He was the first person to do that for me in a foreign country. The second one who did, happened to be also an Indonesian. My friend Ikhsan from Makassar. :)

the awesome Goa Sriti

I knew he meant it when he said, he'll even go to Bali with me if he don't have his Masteral classes. This person saw right through me. Not everyone else does. Maybe that's why we connected very well.

I don't know how many times I've thanked him for everything. But to him, it wasn't a big deal. He's not expecting anything in return. In fact, he's given a lot more than he knew did. For a single traveler who's very used to being so independent, suddenly being taken cared of like that. It meant a lot! His kindness overwhelmed me. I felt very blessed.

the serene Pantai Indrayanti

The moment I boarded the plane I started to feel so somber. I felt terribly lonely that I wanted to go out of the aircraft and never leave anymore. Crazy, right? I had so many fond memories of Jogja. I made a lot of friends. They made me feel like I'm home.

One friend told me to just stay with her in her house when I return. Yes, I was still there and they were already asking me to come back! Everyone had been so kind to me. I think that was what made me sad and emotional. It was the first time I felt that way on the road.

@ Jalan Malioboro with my future housemate hehe :)

Many times I've been asked if I don't get scared of traveling alone and meeting with strangers. I always answer "no". How can you be afraid when they are being this nice to you? In fact, it made me appreciate the world more. I learnt to look beyond race and religion. I found out that we are all the same. Despite all our differences and everything that divides us, we all care for our fellow human beings. It only takes for you to trust in order for you to be trusted. I always believe that nothing bad will happen to you as long as you're being kind to everyone. It's the law of attraction. Kindness, like a boomerang, always returns.

Thank you for the warm welcome Inggit, Timur, Agnes, Adid, Fandi and Topan! I never felt alone in Jogja! And of course my endless gratitude to my good friend, Zak. For the crazy road adventures, the food trips, the outdoor fun, the treats, the pampering, the words of enlightenment and the friendship. I will never forget all of that. Words are simply not enough. Let's see how soon Tugu will pull me back to Jogja. ;)

Because that's what kindness is. It's not doing something for someone else because they can't, but because you can. ~Andrew Iskander


  1. Wow! Such a sweet host! Can i 'borrow' him? Im off to Jogja next month for my 2nd solo trip abroad.

    1. Hi Chuchie. But he's not mine to lend hehe! He was the one who offered to host me. I just posted in the CS group and voila! I had people offering to host me from almost every part of Indonesia hehe. Indonesians are very warm and friendly. I'm sure you'll get a kind soul. As in 100% sure. Goodluck! =)

    2. Too bad, im not into couch surfing yet. :(

    3. It's not too late to join! ;)