From Indomie to Gojek to cheap salons, we list all the things we miss about Indonesia when we've gone abroad
You can take the girl out of Indonesia, but you can’t take the Indonesian out of the girl! It doesn’t matter where we go, whether we move to new places, or travel thousands of miles away from home, at the end of the day there are a few things about our beautiful island nation that we terribly miss when we’re away.
Let’s begin with the best instant noodles in the world. Remember the good old days back home when it was raining and the only comfort food you could never get sick of was Indomie – fried or soup – with added chilli and eggs? The delicious aroma of Indomie would fill up the entire room, as you and your family happily enjoy your noodles, and let’s admit it, sometimes just one pack of Indomie is not enough to make you full.
Nasi padang is a favourite of Indonesians everywhere, and a must-try for foodies visiting Indonesia. Found all around our island nation, but originating from Padang, this feast of West Sumateran dishes is served family-style with a side of steamed rice, and best enjoyed when you use your hands instead of cutlery. Sure, it gets messy, but it tastes oh so good.
One of our silent heroes, the tukang ojek, or motorcycle taxi driver, takes us from point A to point B quickly, cheaply, and efficiently. What traffic? Nowadays, Jakarta even has GoJek, an app-based ojek service that also works as a bike messenger, food delivery service, and errands helper. Where else can you pay someone to go get you that street food from across town when you have a craving at 2AM?
Cheap Hair Salon & Massage
After being used to getting pampered with all the works – we’re talking hair cut, blow outs, AND head massages – for less than $20 including tips, we were shocked to find out how ridiculously expensive hair salons and massages are overseas! What has usually become a weekly beauty ritual has to be put on hold until we make the trip back home. Don’t you just miss how some things are just cheaper and much better back home?
All Indonesians have a love and hate relationship with the huge mega malls that pop all over our major cities. Even though we complain about not having enough outdoor parks to hang out in, as sometimes it feels like all we did was hop from one mall to another, there is something about the convenience of the air conditioned malls (in our tropical heat!) and heading there on the weekend to have a glass of lychee iced tea.
Of course, the language! Isn’t it interesting how Indonesia is the fourth most populated country in the world, yet Bahasa Indonesia is not more common overseas? There are some expressions Bahasa just has spot-on that you can’t express in other languages, and there’s nothing like slipping in a naughty curse or two with the guilty pleasure that nobody else understands you.
“Apapun makanannya, minumnya Teh Botol.” Thumbs up to the best tea in the world, at least for Indonesians. This sweet bottled black tea is best served ice cold, and enjoyed with a straw. Oh how we miss cooling down our throats with a sip of Teh Botol after a deliciously spicy Indonesian meal. A bottle or more please!
Sambal & Kerupuk
Sambal is a wonderfully spicy condiment typically made from a variety of chili peppers with secondary ingredients like fish sauce, garlic, shrimp paste, ginger, shallot, sugar, lime juice and vinegars. Indonesians are raised on spicy foods, so meals aren’t complete without the staple sambal on the side. Kerupuk, addictive deep fried crackers made from fish, shrimp, starch and other ingredients are also typically served on the side to complete the meal.
Talk about food haven, Indonesia is one of those countries not only rich of beautiful natures, culture but also food. Having some of Indonesian authentic cuisine from the streets is a great way to experience culinary in Indonesia, and without any doubt street food has always been the locals favorite too. From satays (meat skewers), martabak manis, nasi goreng gila (crazy fried rice), Internet (Indomie, with eggs and corned beef), and roti bakar (grilled toast), there is a plethora of choices when it comes to sampling the local cuisine from the streets. Remember, a trip to Jakarta wouldn’t be complete without making a visit to Bendungan Hilir’s street food row!
What else do you miss when you’re travelling outside of Indonesia? Sound off below!
By: Gyscha Rendy