Where are you from?

Indonesia in the world map (newbali.info)

“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?
Me: Indonesia
Him: Your country is beautiful! I watched Miss Guatemala competing for Miss World in Indonesia!

Guatemalan Tuk Tuk driver: Where are you from?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
Him: Wow, I love Manny Pacquiao!
Me: That’s Philippines
Him: Oh it’s different?

Chilean painter guy: Where are you from?
Me: Indonesia
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?
Me: Indonesia
Him: In… What?
Me: In-do-ne-si-aaa
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 🙂



  • anika
    June 25, 2014 11:06 am

    kejadian di Pnom penh 2013
    supir tuk tuk : where do you come from?
    me : indonesia
    Supir tuk tuk : Indonesia is nice, Your country much much better than my country..
    me: thanks dalam hati bangga dan akhirnya ngobrol

    Kejadian di Thailand (phuket, bangkok)
    local sana: ngajakin ngomong thai
    me: sorry Sir, I’m indonesian
    Local : wow, our face almost same yaa

    kejadian di clark quay 2014 abis dugem
    gue ama teman lg istirahat rokok2 cantik di luar

    bule: where do you come from? entahlah bule dr mana
    Me: we are indonesian..
    bule : don’t know where is this. do you have Buildings in Indonesia?
    me : sialannn

  • Alvie
    July 18, 2014 11:26 pm

    walaupun banyak orang luar yang gk tahu Indonesia, tapi gw tetep bangga!!!

  • Distributor Pupuk NASA ACEH
    September 23, 2014 11:15 pm

    Ada yang pernah ngalamin ga dikira artis indonesia sama cewek-cewek remaja brunei.. haha

  • Daisy Liana Raikkonen
    October 8, 2014 9:20 am

    Pengalaman Traveling di Seoul, Korea Selatan
    sambil menunggu lampu hijau untuk nyebrang tiba tiba ada ahjumma yang kebingungan nanya alamat ke saya dengan bahasa korea yang saya gak ngerti #%^&(@_*)?
    saya berlagak seperti mereka juga dan berkata ‘mulla so ahjumma’ (yang artinya saya gak tau) kejadian serupa juga sering terjadi 2 atau 3 kali (saya dikira orang korea haha- sedikit bangga)..
    satu lagi kejadian lagi nunggu subway ada tourist yang ngajak ngomong bahasa inggris

    Tourist : Can you speak English? (dari tampangnya dia tourist filipinos)
    Me : Yes
    Tourist : I wanna go here (sambil nunjukin peta subway), where should i wait for the subway?
    Me : Just stay here because the train commin this way
    Tourist : Your english is good
    Me : Thanks.. Because im a tourist too
    Tourist : Cengo n langsung ngabur

    hahaha ati-ati mas.. alamat palsu

  • chekaharmen
    January 12, 2015 11:44 am

    Yeah, this one question! Ketika ngobrol-ngobrol dengan sesama traveler, urutan tebakan mereka soal asal gue: Phillippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Mexico (gue kaya Talia keleus ye), USA (ini ngebingungin sih… tapi kejadian), LOL. Memang kurang tenar euy negara kita di jagad per-backpacker-an hehehe. Let’s travel the world and spread the word!

    my travelogue: http://www.chekaharmen.com

  • Anonymous
    August 1, 2016 10:58 am

    Here’re my experiences
    A. My Omra Experience in January 2016:
    1. Tante2 Turki Who wants to take a selfie with me
    Tante2 Girang Turki : kdakdjshajs *Speak in Turkish
    Gue: Sorry, Ma’am I can’t speak in turkish. Please speak in English/French
    Tante2 Girang Turki: *ttp ngomong Turkish
    Anaknya: *speak something in turkish, but I only notice that she’s thinking that I am Turkish
    Gue: Yo wis, sakarepmu lah ! *ngeloyor pergi

    2. being interogated for long time by airport officers bcs I am mistaken as Afgahni ! *Dooh

    B. When I arrive at my hotel in Phuket
    The old man from Russia offers my some Luwak Coffee bcs he saw my tired face, but again, he’s mistaken me as a Russian

    C. Being mistaken as Philipino by My Malaysian friend in Surabaya, Indonesia! huft

    D. Being mistaken as an Israeli just bcs my Mom has such a Jewish looks -__-

  • Anonymous
    August 20, 2016 9:22 pm

    pengalaman bulan April 2016 di SIngapura.
    saya lihat dua cewek, secara face saya kira orang Indonesia. Eh, pas kenalan ternyata dari Filipina.

    Kebalikannya, mereka mengira saya dari Filipina.


  • Rieska
    February 19, 2017 8:01 pm

    Suatu hari di sebuah restaurant di Athena:

    Selesai maksi Bapak-bapak pegawai restaurant yg jagain pintu greetings ke saya…

    Si Bapak: Thank you!
    Saya: You’re welcome
    Si Bapak: Assalamualikum! *krn sy pake hijab
    Saya: Walaikumsalam warohmatullah!
    Si Bapak: Are you from Arab?? *setengah berteriak krn sy sdh lewat
    Saya: No! Am Indonesian
    Si Bapak: owh! Apa kabar??
    Saya: Baik! Terima Kasih! *mbrebes mili


  • RYAN (@ilmariandy)
    February 26, 2017 12:49 am

    I just travelled to Latin America and this is soo true, even some poeple in Colombia will randomly point at you and yell Chino chino. Even you’re not Chinese

  • Kevin (@kepiinpradana)
    March 20, 2017 4:58 pm

    Punya temen dari Ekuador yg suka surfing, dan salah satu mimpi dia adalah surfing di Indonesia. Woww….

  • Hasiholan Siregar
    November 9, 2017 4:47 pm

    Orang Bandung: Asalnya darimana?
    Saya: Medan
    Orang Bandung: Saya punya teman di Medan namanya Sari, kenal gak?

    • Anonymous
      February 8, 2024 7:05 am

      Foreigner: where are you from sir?
      Me: indonesia
      Foreigner: Oh Nihao?
      me: That’s mandarin, I’m from indonesia
      Foreigner: O you don’t speak mandarin.
      Me: Not all asian speaks chinese and not all asian is from china Sir

  • Anonymous
    January 15, 2024 10:11 pm

    Pengalaman orang romania : where’re u from?
    Me: indonesia
    Orang romania : jakarta?oh flood…i know it from news
    Me : ya….speechless????????

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