Traffic in Jakarta last week was the worst I’ve seen in the six years I’ve lived here. I was stuck directly in front of my office for one hour.
When I pointed out the insect in my empty wasabi dish in a Japanese restaurant, the waitress wasn’t fazed. She simply emptied out the crawly creature on the floor.
And it was hard to believe that the taxi driver didn’t have change when I handed him Rp 20,000 ($2) for a Rp 12,000 fare.
But let me say this clearly and emphatically. I am privileged and pleased to be living and working in Indonesia at this dynamic point in the country’s development. It’s as exciting a time as any in my life, and I’ve lived through Japan’s bubble economy years and Hong Kong’s handover to China.
So I have a long list of reasons to be happy here. And with the input of equally-enchanted friends, I offer 35 good things about Indonesia:
1) The woman in the headscarf offering me a banana on a recent flight back to Jakarta.
2) Indonesia is full of promise to be a better place to live for our children and children’s children than in most other parts of the world. — Rio, hospitality consultant
3) Tolerance toward foreign nationals. — Akira, diplomat
4) Being in this country means you learn the meaning of patience. — Ayu, businesswoman
5) Three-ply toilet tissue.
6) People are generally friendly to everyone without prejudice. — Gini, embassy staff member
7) The eye-scan immigration system at Soekarno-Hatta that allows you to skip the long lines. For a fee that’s worth paying.
8) The variety of fruits found here, with 230 types of bananas, 40 types of mangoes, and 500 types of guavas all year round! — Irawati, public relations consultant
9) It’s so easy to find a taxi that will be there wherever you are, whenever you call. — Dorothy, singer
10) Multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-lingual people. — Wies, magazine publisher
11) Being rich in natural resources, especially when it comes to growing plants and food for the well-being of its people. — Ade, health expert
12) The golf experience is second to none. — Richard, hotel general manager
13) If you need macroeconomic growth and can’t stand Chinese food, you can invest here (with the second-fastest growth after China). — Sandiaga, business executive
14) Robust civil society engagement and cultural warmth. And beautiful girls but not so handsome boys. — Ulil, religious scholar
15) The exciting and continuously growing culinary landscape. — Erza, arts patron
16) Home massage service that’s cheaper than anywhere in the world.
17) People that smile, look you in the eye and call you “Mister.” — Eric, journalist
18) Nasi goreng! — Daniel, fine dining restaurant owner
19) Being in a major city where renting a house is still affordable. — Dave, business consultant
20) The best nightlife with modern and sophisticated clubs. — Tascha, news anchor
21) The beautiful scenery such as the underwater coral in Raja Ampat, or the village view in Nusa Tenggara. — Barbara, marketing executive
22) The sensational availability of spices and naturally organic produce that give incredible flavors. — Vindy, chef
23) Reclining seats and menu service in movie theaters.
24) Indonesian youths are now more creative and become entrepreneurs, not depending on the government for jobs. — Andy, TV host
25) Malls like Ambassador and Mangga Dua where you can fix stuff at a cheap price. — Lilian, marketing consultant
26) The hidden islands throughout the country. — Monica, media executive
27) Fast-food delivery service. — Jason, relocation director
28) Able to make friends with people from so many different countries and cultures. — David, small business owner
29) TV anchors are good-looking. — Olivia, TV anchor
30) You can come back from a long, tiring trip and be welcomed like a king with a driver to fight traffic and a helper to serve you a hot meal. — Aruna, writer
31) We produce the best coffee in the world. Every region has very tasty coffee. — Erwin, media director
32) Indonesia has a vibrant film industry with master craftsmen and natural performers. — Deborah, movie industry advisor
33) Freedom limited only by your personal sense of ethics. — Wimar, communications expert
34) One-day express laundry service. — Tika, licensing executive
35) Money can buy anything. Is that a good thing? — Alexandra, race car driver.
Hawaii native Dalton Tanonaka is the anchor of Metro TV’s “Indonesia Now” program on Saturday mornings at 6:30 a.m., and host of “TalkIndonesia” on Sundays at 6:30 a.m. He also anchors “ASEAN Today.” He can be reached at email@example.com or follow him on twitter @daltontanonaka.