“Where are you from?” is such a common question when you travel. It is also my favorite question to ask fellow travelers just to prove my guess is right by observing their languages or physical features. But when it comes to asking where I’m from, it becomes a lot more exciting.
Most Indonesians don’t travel. Most Indonesians who travel do so in tour groups. Most Indonesians who travel in a tour group will almost always go to Asia, Australia, USA or Europe. What about an Indonesian woman traveling in Latin America? 99% of the people I met said, “Wow, you are the first Indonesian I met in my whole life!” This is said not only by the locals, but also by the fellow travelers – mostly Europeans.
Apart from that, I have just realized that Indonesia is unknown to most of Latin Americans. I’m sure most Indonesians also don’t know Chile or Guatemala, but Indonesia is a very big country with 247 million populations. That is number 4 of the most populated country in the world! When you see it in the world map, Indonesia can be identified right away. Well, that’s how I think.
I used to tweet this Q&A of “where are you from?” from my Twitter @TrinityTraveler and my followers told me to post it in my blog. I intended to write in English so I can share this story to my foreigner friends. Here are some:
Among all of Latin Americans, Brazilians are the ones who seem to adore Indonesia very much. We are their dream destination! At the very least they will say, “Indonesia? Ah, tsunami!”
In other Latin American countries, no one really knows Indonesia. But after 8 months, I finally met some locals who knew something about Indonesia – in cute ways.
Guatemalan receptionist guy: Where are you from?
Him: Your country is beautiful! I watched Miss Guatemala competing for Miss World in Indonesia!
Guatemalan Tuk Tuk driver: Where are you from?
Him: Oh that’s very far! More than 25 hours flight, right?
Indonesia and India is the same country in some Latin Americans’ perception because our countries share the same first 3 letters and the last 2 letters. Paraguay and Uruguay is also the same, right?
Cuban landlady: Where are you from?
Her: Wow, I love yoga, toe rings and sari!
Me: No. That’s India.
Her: Oh it’s different?
Argentinian skateboarder guy: Where are you from?
Him: Oh I have a friend who lives in Calcutta!
Indonesia has a negative top of mind. It’s true and I don’t mind, but it’s such an embarrassment.
Moroccan girl (my hostel mate in Colombia): Where are you from?
Her: Oh that’s where a baby smoke, right? I watched it on YouTube!
Mexican man I met in a church: Where are you from?
Him: Oh that’s where its government closed down the churches, right?
Indonesia is must be somewhere in Asia. Yeah, sure!
Mexican guy who sells mobile phones: Where are you from?
Him: Wow, I love Manny Pacquiao!
Me: That’s Philippines
Him: Oh it’s different?
Chilean painter guy: Where are you from?
Him: Wow! Can you do Kung Fu?
Some people don’t know where Indonesia is, or what Indonesia is.
Dominican man in a Muslim prayer: Where are you from?
Yasmin (my friend): Indonesia
Him: Oh, I really want to go to Middle East!
Jamaican beach boy: Where are you from?
Him: In… What?
Him: Inodesi? What is that? Never heard before!
Now… should I laugh out loud? Or should I cry?
For those who don’t know where Indonesia is exactly located, please look at the map I posted above. Yes, we are Asian, but it doesn’t mean we speak Chinese or can do Kung Fu.— Thanks to @aharadiran for editing this 🙂