Steals Malaysia from Indonesia

15 (useless and funny) Indonesia facts you didn't know yet

As in many countries in Southeast Asia, there are many curious and funny facts about Indonesia. I have now spent a lot of time in this country and got to know and learned a lot. Of course also through my Indonesian friends and girlfriend.

Indonesia facts that almost no travel guide can find

Today there is therefore some useless knowledge and I will introduce you to 15 facts about Indonesia that you probably did not know yet.

1. Words from Dutch

Indonesia was once a Dutch colony and you can still notice that today in the official language Bahasa Indonesia, where over time some words from the Dutch that we as Germans also understand. Here are just a few examples:

  • Free = free
  • Lampu = lamp
  • Coat = coat
  • Aunt = aunt
  • Knalpot = exhaust
  • Kopling = coupling
  • Helmet = helmet
  • Handuk = towel
  • Furniture = furniture
  • Tas = pocket
  • Stop = stop

2. Rice at McDonald’s

Indonesia is one of the few countries in the world where you can eat McDonald’s instead of fries Order rice can. They even have full rice and chicken menus.

3. Censorship on TV

In Indonesian television, films are censored extremely hard on some channels - especially anything that is halfway “sexy”. It even goes so far that, for example, the breasts of a naked sculpture or statue are censored.

4. Cigarette and alcohol advertising

Speaking of television: Cigarette and tobacco advertising is not yet banned in Indonesia and so the (often very well done) commercials are shown very often, especially in the evening and at night - almost every 2nd clip!

The complete opposite is again Alcohol advertising. You will do this there No way see.

5. Belief in spirits

In Indonesia the belief in ghosts is widespread and some Indonesians seriously claim to have seen one of the following beings:

For example, there is the “Pocong”, “Kuntilanak” or “Genderuwo”. Particularly noteworthy is the “Tuyul” - a tiny, baby-like one Goblin beingsstealing other people's valuables. Since the Tuyul is like a small child, however, he can be appeased by being given sweets or beans, so that he instead ignores the valuables. Some people claim to have a Tuyul.

6. Luwak coffee

In Indonesia there is a small animal species, the so-called musang, which eats coffee cherries and excretes them again. Coffee is then produced from this musang poop, which goes with the most expensive types of coffee in the world belongs.

You can try the “Kopi Luwak” in many tourist areas, especially Bali, and buy it in small packs.

7. Eggs and flour for your birthday

In Indonesia, when someone has a birthday, it is customary in some regions to break raw eggs on the head and then pour flour over them. With many birthday guests, things can get pretty dirty for the birthday child. 🙂

8. “F” and “P”

Residents of other countries in Asia often have problems pronouncing the "R". In Indonesia this is the smallest problem ...

There the distinction between the letters “F” and “P” is not so important. This is how “Facebook” quickly becomes the word “Pesbook”.

You will definitely notice that on your trip to Indonesia. It took me a while to get used to it. So if you don't understand someone right away, just swap the letters in your head. Often the word makes sense again. 😉

9. Religion and Weddings

Religion plays an extremely important role in Indonesia. It even goes so far that followers of two different religions (with a few exceptional cases) don't marry allowed to. One must convert at a time.

10. Slang

Indonesian has a very special slang language that is particularly widespread among young people. This language is called "Bahasa Gaul". Here completely new words are created or combined with others.

There is also the “Bahasa SMS”. It is especially popular in SMS, Facebook or online chats, where it abbreviates the words or uses numbers instead of letters. A sentence like this can look like this in a very extreme form:

KK mA4f sy gk b15a m45uk h4R1 1ni k4R3n4 5Akit

By the way, you can get a great insight into the slang language here in the book Indonesian Slang by Bettina David. If you want to seriously learn Indonesian, there is no way around this book. Because an extremely formal language, as it is in school and learning books, nobody speaks there anyway. 😉

11. Barack Obama

Did you know Barack Obama too Indonesian roots Has? He even lived and went to school in Jakarta for several years of his childhood. He still speaks a few words of Indonesian today and was able to use them on his last visit to Indonesia. The audience almost freaked out with joy!

12. Ketchup vs. "Kecap"

Be careful when ordering ketchup in Indonesia. The word “kecap” has the same pronunciation and is not ketchup, but Soy sauce. If you want ketchup, ask for “Tomato Sauce” or “Saus Tomat”. If you want a spicier tomato sauce, ask for “sambal”.

13. Balinese names

Did you already know that there is a very special naming system in Bali? If you are wondering why almost every man is called “Wayan”, “Gede”, “Made” or “Ketut” during your Bali trip, here is the brief explanation:

The naming in Bali is based on the order of birth of the respective child. So the first child is always called Wayan or Gede. The second born is then given the name Made and so on. You can find more information about this in an interesting article on Indojunkie or written in a humorous way on Lookin for Jonny.

Because the whole thing is so complicated for tourists, many young Balinese people simply give themselves some western nicknames. I have already met Indonesians who call themselves “Rambo” or “Hans” 😀

14. Forms of address

In Indonesia, as in some Asian countries, there are different forms of address for different people. But there it is particularly diverse and complicated. But they are considered polite and completely normal and common. Some examples:

  • A good friend is already part of the family and will be with you "Kakak" (= older brother or sister addressed). So I would be addressed as “Kakak Marcel” (or “Kak Marcel” for short)
  • This also applies to younger friends, only then is it called "Adik" / "Dek" (= younger brother or sister). At the same time, this is the form of address for children.
  • By the way, the previous points are probably also the reason why you often visit Indonesia "Bro" called. It's basically the modern, western version of it. Often there is also the form "Mas Bro", which is a mixture of Western (Bro) and Indonesian (Mas = form of address for people of the same age, but who do not belong to the inner circle of friends)
  • Someone who is older (but not too old) and also belongs to your close circle of friends or acquaintances is then already yours "Om" (= Uncle) or "Aunt" (= Aunt)
  • You name a man you don't really know but still want to address politely "Bapak" / "Pak" (= Lord). With women it is "Mbak".
  • Older women are often with “Ibu” addressed (short form "Bu")

It goes on like this for a long time and these were just a few examples. It took me a long time to learn or understand all of these forms of address. Depending on the island and region, there are even different words and forms.

By the way, as a tourist you will often come along "Boss" / "Bos" addressed. This is completely normal in Indonesia and is also sometimes done among locals. This just shows the respect of someone doing or trying to do someone else a service. Presumably this comes from the old colonial times.

15. Prepaid electricity

In Indonesia, many buildings have a small box of prepaid electricity. The meter is also located there and, similar to your prepaid credit on your mobile phone, you first have to “buy” electricity using a small keyboard and enter the code there. You can buy the credit in any convenience store, such as 7-Eleven, Indomaret or Circle K.

By the way, here one understands "Stroom" again, which brings us back to point 1 ...

What strange and funny Indonesia facts come to mind? What did you experience on your trip to Indonesia? Let us know now!

Photos: Photo 1 (rice): abdul / yunir / flickr (CC BY 2.0) - Photo 4 (sauces): Artist in doing nothing / flickr (CC BY 2.0)

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Moin, I am Marcel! Blogger, author, web & graphic designer and digital nomad. I prefer to travel through Southeast Asia and discover beautiful beaches and delicious food there. My home base is Koh Phangan, Thailand. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Hello Marcel,

I am Indonesian. Thank you .. your article made me laugh. What I find funny is about belief in ghosts. I think that's funny too. Sometimes when someone is sick they go to “Pak Ustad”, which is like “voodoo”. It is believed that drinking Pak Ustad water will cure him. I don't think that makes any sense. Instead of going to Pak Ustad, I go to the doctor.

I think ketchup is funny too. When I was in Germany someone mentioned that ketchup is not a soy sauce. I was very amazing


Hey Mas Bro,

Great article, just made me smile again. In a few weeks it will be time for me again. By the way, the word “bule” is often used on Jawa for aunt. Amazingly the same word as “Bule” for foreigners.

Thanks again for your packing list. I always like to look back here to make sure that I've thought of everything I need to 😉

Many greetings, Nils


Mas brooo,
thanks for commenting! 🙂

Interesting, I didn't know that either hehe

Best regards and have fun on Java


Hey, that doesn't mean "Bule" but "Bude" and underlines the respect for women. Because it is older or has a high reputation. There is also “Pakde” in this sense.


Hello Marcel,

i'm an indonesian and i think this article is very cool and awesome. I like it. For this “Bahasa nag” I had already done once when I was still in high school. That's why I could only smile when I remembered it.


Number 10? real?

I am an Indonesian and now I live in Jogjakarta but I do not write text messages this way.
p.s .:
if you go to the villages, they probably do 🙂

so, great articles!


Hello Asdi,
that was just an extreme example, certainly not everyone does, as you say. 😉 But I see and hear Bahasa Gaul quite often among young people.

Mksi atas komentarnya


I'm degree with my husband and two kids in a semester abroad in Bali. Our nanny's name is Erna and her youngest boy means Thank you. Her father spent a few years in Germany when he was young and gave four old children German names. A fellow student swears to know a Balinese named Megageil 😀

Incidentally, it also seems difficult to pronounce. So don't be surprised in the restaurant when you are asked "pinis?"


“Megageil” 😀 Wonderful!

Yes that's true. The “sch” is also often a minor problem. There are even products that even say “fress” instead of “fresh” on the packaging and in TV advertising. 😉


nice list that could certainly be continued for a while, if only what the language is concerned with (e.g. plural formation: say word twice, if not by some indicator, for example a number, this is already displayed). Regarding the wedding, however, I wonder whether this is true or whether the case law has changed in the meantime ... I know (very well) an older couple from Bandung, a man from Balinese (Hindu) and a woman from Javanesin (Muslim). neither of them had to convert.
cheers, f


Hello Frank,

good suggestion with the words say 2 times, there are sure to be a few nice examples. 🙂 Sometimes this gives the words a completely different meaning (e.g. hati hati).

There are certainly exceptional cases and under “certain circumstances” everything can be regulated in Indonesia. 😉 But officially I am of the opinion that this is not possible. Because a Muslim woman is actually ONLY allowed to have a Muslim man (since this is then considered to be the head of the family).

Kind regards, Marcel


We experienced very different things about religions and getting married in Java and Bali, and I thought that was great. In Islam (and Indonesia is for the most part Islamic), a man is allowed to marry a woman of another religion (assuming you believe in only one gitt). The woman, on the other hand, is only allowed to marry a Muslim man. On Java and Bali we talked to some locals who marry in spite of them (Muslims and Hindus - Catholics and Hindus) and it is precisely this tolerance that I find so great in Indonesia.

You can buy the kopi luwak "cheaply" in Medan (Sumatra) because there are large riwan plantations ... no comparison with the prices in Bali.

On the gilis we met an Indonesian whose name was Hermann from birth 😉 probably has Dutch ancestors 🙂


The words Bu and Pak are used not only for strangers, but also for their own parents, Bu for mother and Pak for father. The same also for sister or brother who are related, Mbak for sister, Dik for little brothers and little ones Sister, Mas for Elder Brothers. And the Western names for most Indonesians then mixed parent: One parent from Western countries. And for the other I like posts.?


Thanks for the addition. 🙂 I am aware of that, but listing all of this would go beyond the scope. Should only be a few small examples 😉

Greetings from Lombok


kakak maaf saya tidak bisa mabuk hari ini karena sakit

KK mA4f sy gk b15a m45uk h4R1 1ni k4R3n4 5Akit

... just wanted to make it clear here, because everyone is sure to be wondering what it's hot!

tapi i2 cuma utk informasimu mgk udah tahu ya;)