Bao Tram: It’s important for travelers to understand the culture of the country they’re visiting. Let’s begin with greeting. What’s an appropriate way to greet someone in Indonesia?
Tommy Sorongan: The appropriate way to greet Indonesians is that you just smile and say hello. It's pretty normal to say hello and smile in front of the people that you don't know. Indonesia is better known as the land of smiles.
Rudy Hartono: Indonesians are simple. Greet him/her politely and you might understand his culture.
Bao Tram: Indonesia is a very multicultural country. How do Indonesians accommodate the traditions of various religions?
Tommy Sorongan: Yeah Indonesia is a country that contains a lot of friendly and gentle traditions. And how do we get into each other? It's really simple because we know we live in a diversity. That's our country's main slogan and is also our main ideology. So we are actually sharing our traditions together and respect each other and congratulate people who celebrate their own traditional or their religious holidays. So it's pretty normal for Indonesians.
Rudy Hartono: Yes it's true. Indonesian people uphold the attitude of religious tolerance and mutual respect for each other. Religious holidays are sacred. Europeans and Asians have their own cultures. So are other nations. Let respect each other.
Bao Tram: What are the most common mistakes foreigners often make?
Tommy Sorongan: I’ll say utilizing more on the left hand. Well it’s pretty normal in Indonesia because left hand is considered the bad hand and the right one is considered the good one. And the most important thing for foreigners is to understand the way religious holiday are observed, well simple, just fall into it, just follow, just enjoy it with other people, don’t ask too many questions. Yeah when the religious holidays are being conducted, so enjoy it!
Bao Tram: What can we do to avoid cross-cultural misunderstandings?
Tommy Sorongan: Well it’s simple. Try to be open, try to know their cultures, try to know how to say good things or bad things. For example, in Indonesia we also have those ways to say a good thing and a bad thing. You need to know that before you come to Indonesia and talk to Indonesians. Because we highly put our emotions into (it). So we know that okay these guys are actually not really happy in this way. So try to know it before you come.
Rudy Hartono: If you want to visit Indonesia, I think you must have studied the Indonesian culture and the places you will visit. Indonesia is a tourist paradise.
Bao Tram: What should foreigners be aware of when they come to Indonesia?
Tommy Sorongan: Well there’re no specific things but be ready for everything, ranging from spicy food, friendly people, and yeah be ready for everything just being adventurous might be good. They shouldn't be close, they shouldn't be exclusive to their community or shouldn’t be exclusive to himself. Try to interact with other people. That's also a good thing to start understanding Indonesia.
Bao Tram: Obviously, Indonesia is a diverse nation but Indonesians are very friendly toward visitors. Most slip-ups are easily forgiven with a big smile and a sheepish “I’m sorry”. Thank you, Tommy and Rudy, for talking to us about Indonesian culture.
Tommy Sorongan: Thank you. Cam on. (in Vietnamese)
Rudy Hartono: Thank you so much, VOV. See you!