Brother from another Mother: The things most Indonesians find weird about foreigners


‘If everybody looked the same, we’d get tired of looking at each other’

I love to people watch, who doesn’t? I can spend hours chilling watching the world go by with nothing more than a coffee for company. Cliche much? As an Australian living in Indonesia I am always people watching or being watched by people. My favourite place to people watch is actually at Starbucks in Ubud. It is located on one of the busiest streets in town and has high glass windows that span the length of the entire coffee house.

When visiting a new country humans can’t help but notice the differences between their lives and those of the locals. These differences are what makes us unique and the world a much more interesting place. This post is not meant to be seen as an us versus them rant, but rather a tongue cheek post about the the things I have noticed that Indonesians find weird about foreigners.

Most Indonesians don’t like to be outspoken and this is especially the case in Bali, where some foreigners seem to get away with murder. Live here long enough and you too will start to see the differences from an Indonesians point of view. Below are the top 10 things (from my observations) Indonesians find weird about foreigners. Remember when reading the list to have a laugh at yourself and appreciate the things that make us unique.


  1. Foreigners eat fruit for breakfast, most Indonesians don’t. Their bodies are not use to the high fiber content first thing in the morning and they will probably end up occupied the same way we would if we were to eat a spicy sambal. Breakfast is either a simple rice dish or a coffee with a side of cigarette as is the choice with most Indonesian men.
  2. Foreigners use toilet paper most Indonesians don’t. They prefer to wash with water as they believe it to be more hygienic.
  3. Foreigners don’t eat rice for every meal. There is a saying in Indonesia that if you haven’t ate rice throughout the day, then you haven’t ate all. Don’t forget the rice…….
  4. Foreigners like to sleep in too much. Indonesians, especially Indonesian women will wake up at the break of dawn to get the day started. You should try it next time your on holiday here, the sunrises are stunning.
  5. Foreigners eat with both hands. In Indonesian culture the left hand is reserved for the dirty jobs and the right hand is reserved for giving, receiving and eating.
  6. Foreigners show too much of their body. In Bali it’s alright to walk around in your denim cut-offs and tank top but if you venture to any other Islands, say Java do not expect to be taken seriously or welcomed warmly. In the end we are visitors to this country and we should be aware of certain customs.
  7. Foreigners think tanned skin is beautiful. When on holiday here you may notice some Indonesian women driving around on their scooters’ looking like they’re about to hit the slopes. Actually they are just trying to cover up from the sun as having white skin is considered the height of beauty.
  8. Foreigners like to argue too much. Majority of Indonesians are passive people and do not like to make scenes.
  9. Foreigners go the doctor for everything. Going to the doctors in Indonesia is more of a last resort. The locals prefer to try traditional remedies before consulting their GP.
  10. Foreigners aspire to be thin. In Indonesia if you are fat it means you are happy and probably rich.

Indonesia and especially Bali is a melting pot of different identities, cultures and customs. The locals have accepted us warts and all into their Island for many, many years. As long as we all make an effort to be aware of each others cultures and customs we can continue to enjoy each others company despite our differences.



18 thoughts on “Brother from another Mother: The things most Indonesians find weird about foreigners

    1. simonerobertsau Post author

      Makasih ya mbak.
      Thank you so much Incem. I am glad you liked it. I hope I made you laugh.

      Semoga kamu sehat dan senang xo

      1. simonerobertsau Post author

        Well actually Sean I am engaged to one.
        When I talk about an Indonesian as such I mean the average joe living in the suburbs raising a family.

        Like my neighbours, my extended family and my friends.

  1. Aunty Heather

    Keep wriring your wonderful stories Simone. I look forward to reading each one. Love to you both, Aunty Heather Xxxxx

    1. simonerobertsau Post author

      Thank you Aunty Heather for your kind words.
      Love to you all in Bundy too xxx

    1. simonerobertsau Post author

      Thank you Emmett.
      I just wanted to show how even though we are very unique in some ways, in the end we are all human. Glad you liked the post.
      I hope you keep reading.
      – Simone

  2. Carolyn Wirastika

    OMG this is sooooo true and spot on, my hubby often comments on all these things, he thinks we Aussies are weird 🙂

  3. Pingback: Brother from another Mother: The things most Indonesians find weird about foreigners | angelvillabali

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