Saturday, February 09, 2008
Indonesian and Stereo-type
This is a true story of Indonesian stereo-type in the eyes of the tourist.
Last Saturday, when I was in Ngurah Rai International Airport, waiting for my husband, I took my lunch at one of the canteen in the airport. There are several canteens but I choose the descent one, where there are two foreigners – or tourist, if I may say so – spent their time.
I spotted that both of them ordered a glass of juice, while me, because of the screaming in my stomach, ordered one fresh orange juice and one fried rice, the common menu in the airport. I didn’t ask for the price because I knew that the price must be higher than usual price.
I was in the middle of watching people by while eating my lunch when one of the women paid her bill and suddenly I realized that the waiter difficult to express his disagreement in English. That lady felt being robbed because of the price of the juice, which way too high for the normal juice price; IDR 20k compare to the normal one IDR 10k.
She thought that it was the price for the tourist while for me, local people, the price must be lower than her.
So I checked with the waiter, and he gave me the same price also. No difference.
Because I was appointed as their interpreter, I told her that I have the same price. She still disbelieved.
Short story, she paid with disappointment.
But not more than 5 minutes, she back again and asked the waiter to return her money. She told me that according to the local guy, the price should be half than that.
And suddenly I felt pity to the waiter, he is not the owner. This time I have to stand for the waiter, so I told the lady that he is not the owner, the price was too high but every shop has their own standard of price. I knew the price was too high but I paid the same amount like her.
Her final word, “I didn’t believe you. This will affect your country. You should felt ashamed of this kind of treatment.”
I just looked at her into the eyes and said, “Whatever, but I paid the same price as you.”
I’ve been in her country where the price of a mineral water was different between one another but I accepted it.
But what bothered me was her thought of Indonesian people, that we were so poor, that if we have a chance to rob the foreigner, even for the small things, Indonesian will do so. What a shame !
Does it happen only in third world or Asian country ? Maybe. But as far as I know, based on my experience when I was in China, India, Bangkok, Hongkong even Singapore, I have to bargain.
What about Europe ? I didn’t do the bargain, but every shop has their own price. Therefore I have to find a shop which has lower price than others.
In other words, every people in every country do the same things. What makes the difference is the impression, the perception that goes from mouth to mouth, that if you come to third world country; you have to be careful because the local people may think that you are rich.
Like the other tourist said when he would like to change his ticket in Ngurah Rai Airport Bali, “I’m not rich, I’m poor.”
Then I heard somebody said, “If you were poor then you could not come to Indonesia.”
Well, back to the stereo type, I think I have to blame our people. Realized it or not, it’s us who make that kind of stereo type by telling our friend, the foreigner, that they have to bargain, because the seller know that they are foreigner so they will charge them higher price than normal price.