Are you traveling to a new country and want to get to know the real local lifestyle?
Do you think you can only get the real experience by getting to know the locals?
Usually, people all over the world are happy to welcome travelers in their country, their homes or families. They’re always interested in where you come from, what you do and how you like their country.
Getting to know locals is a great way to get a feeling of a new place. Sometimes it needs a few steps and insider tips to open their hearts and enjoy the perfect authentic experience!
Let me show you 6 easy ways to get in touch with the locals in Sorong.
1. Learn the language
We all know: language opens doors – and West Papua is the perfect example of that. Although you’ll find a few locals who speak English, it’s not very common. Usually a mix of a few words of English, Indonesian and hand gestures are enough for simple communication.
Try to remember the most common phrases and you’ll see how easy you can make them smile. Not only that – it will make your life easier in many ways while traveling in Indonesia.
For those who want to go for the whole language, there is good news: simple grammar and easy pronunciation make Bahasa Indonesia a language anyone can master!
Start with your first Indonesian words HERE. At the bottom of the page, you’ll find the most important phrases. (Only available for desktop view).
Find out more about Bahasa Indonesia here: https://www.expat.or.id/info/historyofbahasaindonesia.html
2. Travel alone
Yes, travel alone.
There is nothing against traveling together as a couple or friends but experiences have shown that making new friends is easier when traveling alone.
The reason is obvious: if you don’t have a conversation partner all the time, strangers get in touch with you much faster. At the same time, you pay more attention to what’s happening around you.
Traveling alone means also: stepping out of your comfort zone. But trust me, once you’re there, you wouldn’t want to go back again.
If you’re not traveling alone and want to meet locals, don’t worry. As long as you keep your eyes and ears open and pay attention to your surroundings you will most probably end your day with a few new friends.
3. Go for a walk
Go outside! Get out of your hotel room, the lobby or the hotel restaurant.
Go for a walk and see what happens. Let yourself be taken by the flow of the streets, shops, and locals. Be open-minded and interested. Ask questions.
I promise you won’t be alone for a long time!
Walking around is not only the perfect way to get in touch with locals, but it’s also the best way to get to know a city. You won’t believe which interesting places you’ll find and with whom you might end up.
If you’re too lazy for a walk, just jump on one of the yellow mini-taxis (angkot). For IDR 5.000 you can join the ride with other locals.
4. Smile (and laugh – especially at jokes)
The universal sign everyone in the world understands is a smile. Travel as far as the plane takes you and you’ll still be welcomed with a big smile.
A smile creates a great first impression and indicates interest and happiness. Papuans smile a lot and seem to be very happy even though they sometimes own very little. Smile back and let the universal language talk.
If you’re in the area for a while, you’ll also notice that Papuans like to laugh a lot and often. Even from far you’ll hear their infectious laughter. Telling jokes or funny stories can’t be repeated often enough. You will have a lot of fun just by watching them – even though you don’t understand one word of the whole story.
5. Take a lot of pictures (with them)
Wherever you go and whatever you do, be prepared to be asked for pictures – A LOT!
Most travelers don’t stay in Sorong longer than necessary. That means people who are living here are still not used to see lots of foreigners. For them, it’s something very special and interesting to see you!
After hearing the word bule (click here to find out what “bule” means) you often will be asked for a picture or selfie.
Join the fun and ask for a photo in return – a great way to get a conversation going!
And believe it or not – many of those youngsters use Facebook or Instagram. And they love having many friends from all over the world! The perfect way to stay in touch with them – and who knows, you might come back for another holiday again!
6. Don’t be shy – join them!
The most important thing when traveling in Papua: DON’T BE SHY!
By nature Papuans as well as Indonesians are shy and reserved, especially when it comes to foreigners. Before they say anything wrong, they prefer to smile politely. Just a few are brave enough to make the first step.
So don’t be shy about yourself! Smile, use your best Bahasa Indonesia and be open-minded for whatever comes in return. It might be an invitation for food, a drink or to try the famous BETELNUT.
How about dinner at that local warung you saw earlier when walking down the road?
Go to places with lots of locals and join them for a meal. You won’t regret it!
By the way, don’t be surprised to hear a lot of “mister”, even though you’re female. Funny enough but that’s the only word a lot of them associate with the “bules”.
It doesn’t matter what you do and how you do it when traveling. Getting to know locals not only depends on them but also on your attitude and approach towards people. As long as you’re open-minded, not afraid and interested in other cultures you will always get in touch with the most interesting people.
Do you agree? Do you have other ideas?
What was your best experience with locals while traveling?