That is one of the question that people ask me when they meet me for the first time. I can see on their faces their confusion... They don`t understand why I haven`t chosen to go to Bali or to Jakarta. And when I tell them that it is my first time in Indonesia, and even in Asia, and yes I`m in Palembang. Their confusion grows even more. Again they ask me: "But why?"
My first answer is "Why not?"
Traveling and working abroad isn`t about going to the most famous places. Of course I`d like to visit Jakarta and Bali one day, but when I decided to come to Indonesia, it is because I found great opportunities of internships! I had three interesting internships offers: one in Bali, one in Bandung and one in Palembang. Well after deep analysis, the most attractive one was in Palembang!
Coming to Indonesia for an internship was a great opportunity to discover new places and travel around, but the first meaning of me coming here was professional advancements, discovering a new culture and experience Indonesian life. And I am so glad to be in Palembang!
The city is not very touristic, it`s busy, motorcycle everywhere, traffic jam, street food at almost ever corner of the city... It is a city full of life! And I feel safe. I`ve been warn many time when I first came here. But I have to say, I don`t feel more insecure than I would feel in France! People are curious about me as they are not used to see bule (western). But they are so nice, welcoming, respectful and generous...! I have never experience so much generosity!
I remember my first days here in Palembang, every colleague offered to help me if I needed anything. I`ve been offered many city tour, to go out & hang out...! I was never left alone. And I have not felt any cultural choc or home sick feeling really!
Well maybe the only cultural choc was when I went out of the airport in Palembang when I first got here... Approximately 30 taxis drivers gathered around me offering me a lift to my hotel... while I was trying to explain them that I was waiting for a driver already. I was tired after the long journey I had and all of these buddies around me kind of freaked me out... ahaha But except this experience, I haven`t felt any deep cultural choc here.
So to come back to the people topic! I have met so many people and made very good friends! Thanks to my colleague Rio, I have met Ryan or Oktoryan William or Ryan Air. And thanks to Ryan I met my Ade, Bobby (or Bobibilibou), Samar, Anna, Qodri, Hery and Nisa. And thanks to Anna I met Adit, Andre and Mateo. And thanks to Samar I met Ivren, Diana and my little Kalila. And thanks to Ivren I met Agung. I have been blessed to meet all these buddies!
Social life in Indonesia is amazing and so much easier! We hang out all the time, making plans last minutes. That wouldn`t really work out in France. I have the feeling that french are busier or they make their like seems more complicated and less flexible. I like that we make spontaneously last minutes plans here. We go to cinema, karaoke, dinner, play cards or just having a drink!
The only thing that I miss in Palembang is sidewalks. I love wander in cities and get lost to discover them. So I feel quite sad I cannot do it here... But I guess it`s pretty much the same in every cities in Indonesia! And it`s part of the culture and there are other ways to wander in the city!
Here people are moving around the city by motorcycle, car or even bicycle. You will see barely people walking from one place to another. As for the people who don`t have a motorcycle or a car, there are different ways to go around the city:
- ojek, which is a taxi-motorcycle (I recommend to ask for an helmet, it is forbidden by the law to be on a motorcycle without helmet)
- angkots: mini-vans, fairly cheap and will stop very easily, you wouldn`t even have to held your hand (which is rude here) if they see you standing on the side of the road, they will slow down and ask you if you need a ride.
- becaks: bicycle carts, very useful for short ride and very cheap as well, make sure to bargain the price before getting the ride.
- Taxis: There is only one reliable and quite cheap company in Palembang named Bluebird. Depending on your destination it can goes from Rp 30.000 to Rp 80.000 per trip, so 2 to 6 euros which is extremely cheap!
As for me, I am very lucky to have wonderful friends and especially Ryan, Ivren and Adit, who give lifts all the time, you guys rock! :-)
So conclusion? Why Palembang?
Again why not?
Why going abroad should be about going to the big and best known cities?
"Unknown" or less popular cities are full of surprises!
So don`t hesitate get off the beaten track!
You will be surprise of what you can find.
by : emeline (Tourism from France) email : [email protected]
Editor : Feri Yuliansyah