“Excuse me, can we take a picture, please?” Some Indonesian girls had come to us and asked for a picture. At first we thought that they wanted us to take a photo of them as we were walking at Pantai Losari, the city’s waterfront. But no, that was definitely not what they wanted. We needed to be in the photo, with them. “Ehm, okay” we said, still feeling a bit uncomfortable, but also laughing about the funny situation. Taking the photo was serious business as we needed to make a new one over and over again until we got that one perfect shot. Afterwards, we got thanked a thousand times, shook hands and not much later a new group of girls appeared asking for a photo.

Later on we talked about this event with an Indonesian student. She said that these things occur more often here. Of course we tried to prepare for cultural differences, but this was one we did not expect. It came as a surprise for us. It felt like we were the tourist attraction in that moment. However, to them it was just a token of their kindness as they like that internationals visit their country.

This all happened on our first day in Makassar after we spent all those tiring hours in the plane. Luckily we got a more than good welcome. Already in the bus to the hotel we received a tiny package looking like a pepper mint. We had to put it in water and all of a sudden it became bigger and turned out to be a wet towel. A lovely refreshment with these temperatures. In the hotel rooms we all found a reusable water bottle from Toraja. If that isn’t a warm welcome…

After arriving at the hotel, we decided in a rush to get about 200.000 Rupiahs from an ATM. Sounds like a lot, right? Well, turns out it’s actually 14 euros and of course that is not enough to survive the trip. After this epic failure we ended the day by spending most of our precious 14 euros at a lovely restaurant next to the sea. We tasted several tasty dishes such as Ayam crispy (a crispy chicken dish) and fried bananas and with full bellies, everyone went back to the hotel in time to catch up with the missed hours of sleep, not yet realizing that we would all be awake again by 4:30 in the morning because of the sounds of the morning prayer coming from the nearest mosque. But who needs sleep when you have a whole new city to explore?

Witten by: Angela Scheepers, Indy Schumacher, Joëlle de Raaff and Kim de Leeuw