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.


ecky said...

I agreed with you that we have to blame our people, that different price happened to me too when we were on our holiday in Bali last year.

We went to Nusa Dua to play some water sports, and you know what, they gave me tourist rate. Twice than normal/local rate, why? Because I was with white man. Good thing my boyfriend can speaks bahasa Indo so he tries to speak to the man with Bahasa, and I also told the guy that my boyfriend is Indonesian happen to have white skin and blond hair and he was born in Jakarta (yeahh I kind push it too much but I was trying to get normal price at the time) and after minutes of argument the man agreed to give us normal or local price. Unbelievable.

Finally Woken said...

Unbelievably rude. She had agreed to pay, she got confirmation that you paid the same price, and still she protested??

This is another example how Indonesians don't understand their rights. The tourist lady knows exactly that she wouldn't able to protest the same way she did in Indonesia, because in her own country, she will be thrown out of the canteen directly. The Indonesian waiter, sadly, doesn't understand that he has the right to tell the lady to piss off, because the lady had offended him.

The transaction had been made. Whether she was happy or not afterwards, it wouldn't change the fact that both parties had agreed to trade the juice for 20rups. If she thought it's way to expensive, she shouldn't protested before she drunk the juice.

Unbelievable. If I was there I would have helped you to tell the lady to bugger off. Jeez...!!

Finally Woken said...

Whoops, a typo there. It should be:

If she thought it's way to expensive, she should've protested before she drunk the juice.

Elyani said...

I agree with Anita, that lady tourist has not right to protest about the price once it is paid. If she's not happy, she should have packed her own lunch in the first place. We all know eating places toward tourists tend to be far more expensive than local eateries, esp. at the airports, hotels. This is not only in Indonesia, but all over the world. In Singapore for example, one will spends more at Newton Hawker Centre which is one of Singapore tourist attracttion for the same food that you might have in another hawker centre such as in Serangoon or Toa Payoh area.
I think she is just a "kere" tourist...hehehe!

tere616 said...

Ecky : Hm .. lucky you, your baby were with you. Hate this kind of situation anyway, but as Elyani's said, it happened every where

Finally Woken : Maybe in Indonesian's mind there's already another stereo-type based on colonialism that "Bule" always smarter than us (Indonesian). The inferior feeling

Elyani : LOL. I think so ... and am the richer because still had my juice in silence.

Anonymous said...

It's unfortunate that foreign tourists think that everything in Bali is negotiable (price wise). And where did this idea come from? You're right, maybe from us Indonesians. But most foreign tourists would/should know that price for food is usually not negotiable. Unless the price charged is different than the quoted one in the menu or white board.

If I'm in her shoes, I'd probably frustrated too. But it doesn't justify her treatment to the poor waiter.

johnorford said...

the way i see once you agree the price and hand over the money you shouldn't complain. it's ur own problem if u pay too much -- cos /u/ paid it! :)

having said that, going around touristy areas in indonesia, westerners are used to ppl trying to rip em off.

it's totally different when u r away from touristy areas in indonesia, ppl are almost unbelievably honest.

sometimes it's difficult for westerners to know what's what, esp when they go from kuta bali to jakarta for example.

tere616 said...

dinysays : The problem the price is not in the list. Therefore I told the waiter to inform the owner to put the price on the menu list.

johnoford : I do understand your concern, especially because of the way westerners experienced when they've been ripped off, even though not all.

Kuta and Jakarta, were totally different. You couldn't compare that two cities, you have to compare the two tourist city, like jogja and bali. can ask me though if you need some information :-)

Don't worry, sometimes local people, especially people from Jakarta, also being ripped off by people in tourist area.