Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Jakarta Trip Takeaway

It has been more than two months since my trip to Jakarta. Today I'm wrapping the series of posts I have written on the subject with things that I have learned from that travel.

What I admire most about Indonesia is the wide use of Indonesian as a means of communication. They use it in their laws, they use it in the conference I attended, they use it to talk with one another. Foreign delegates like myself were provided translating machines to understand the proceedings which were conducted, unabashedly, matter-of-factly, in Indonesian. When I went to a bookstore, I noticed that all the books, including foreign ones, are in Indonesian. I find it is so refreshing to have an indigenous language so well integrated in their daily lives.

In an earlier post, I described Indonesia as a familiar unfamiliar. We have so many things in common--language, looks, and blackouts. Minutes before I gave my presentation, the lights in Jakarta went out. Since we were pressed for time, the organizers requested that I go on with my presentation, sans PowerPoint presentation, air-conditioning, and with limited lighting. I had to project my voice across the room so everyone could hear, especially those who understand English. Good thing the translating machines worked. Thankfully the lights returned just before I wrapped up.

And a final note for travelers like me who mentally calculate their purchases in pesos (the exchange rate as of this writing: P100.00 is roughly 22,000.00 rupiahs). A Filipino we met who have been staying in Jakarta for more than two decades gave us this simple conversion tip: drop two zeroes from the rupiah, divide the result in two, and that's your peso equivalent.

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