Dalton Tanonaka: Despite the Frustrations, 35 Things to Love About Life in Indonesia

By webadmin on 02:49 pm Dec 01, 2012
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Kunardy Lie is now chief country officer for Deutsche Bank in Indonesia. (Photo Courtesy of Deutsche Bank)

Dalton Tanonaka

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 dalton@metrotvnews.com or follow him on twitter @daltontanonaka.