Hello Miss!

After getting a 60 day visa at the Indonesian consulate at Penang (which apart from the passport picture with red background was easy to get) we were eager to arrive in Indonesia, a country we felt drawn to since the beginning of planning our trip. On our flight from Penang, Malaysia to Banda Aceh in Indonesia I realized that the real experience of travelling lay ahead of us. Used to the German tourists with their tatoes and bad sunburns on the Thai ferries, we were now the only Western tourists and I was the only woman not wearing a headscarf.
One thing was for sure, in Sumatra we would not blend in that easily even though we tried to adapt as much as possible to the Muslim dress habits. The first day in Banda Aceh, exploring its streets, we were simply overwhelmed. At every street corner, from each restaurant and from cars passing by, people would shout out a “hello miss, hello mister”. All eyes were on us.
The young ladies mostly didn’t say anything, but started giggling when they saw us, the older ladies smiled at me with a warm welcoming smile, the men said something in Indonesian and checked me out. The kids, my favourite, shouted their “hello miss” and some other random English words and their faces were lit by a huge curious smile.
I must admit at first we were irritated, why this much attention, what do they want from us? After having been here for a few days, I can see how we get more confident, pick up a few words in Indonesian and talk back to whoever wishes to welcome us. After all, shouldn’t we all welcome visitors from abroad with our best smiles? Maybe even something to take back to Europe?
There it goes again: hello miss!

One thought on “Hello Miss!

  • July 13, 2009 at 6:43 am

    Very nice post! Very nice experience!!

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