I enter as bule and emerge Indonesian

I went to visit the bank in Kuningan and hopped an angkot to head home after a quick and easy trip. I answered the driver and his co-pilot’s curious questions as usual and gritted my teeth as they questioned me about my Sundanese abilities.

Before I knew it, we had passed the bus terminal where I usually transfer to get home to Cinyasag. Since the drivers knew where I was going, and they were being so chatty with me, I figured they knew a different, closer terminal. Drivers here usually just do their thing and it works out. I knew where I was still, so I wasn’t worried.

Then, we went a little too far and I realized we were almost to Cikijing, the large terminal thirty minutes from my house. I figured they went all the way just to keep talking to the bule. I knew this wouldn’t be the normal price, but was still happy about the convenience.

When they finally pulled over in Cikijing, I got out and gave the passenger Rp. 30,000, the normal bus fare between the two cities is Rp. 20,000, I figured I’d give them a little extra because they’re an angkot and don’t normally make such a far route.

I got onto the next bus that would take me past my home and settled into a seat toward the front and was almost immediately tapped on the shoulder. By the angkot Second Mate I had just paid.

Here we go.

He started arguing that I hadn’t paid him enough. It was Rp. 200,000. I laughed at him and said no, I already paid more than enough, Rp. 200,000 is ridiculous.

He kept repeating his price loudly so the whole bus could hear, and yelling that I had a private charter ride, so I have to pay that price.

I told him I wouldn’t pay, and I didn’t ask for a charter.

Soon, the new bus driver got on to figure out what the yelling was, the angkot guy tried to pull him to his side. I interjected saying I’m not a tourist, from Kuningan to Cikijing Rp. 30,000 was more than enough and Rp. 200,000 was way too much.

The bus driver laughed and walked away, but Mr. Angkot remained. Getting angrier. I told him I would pay Rp. 50,000 if he would go away. He asked for Rp. 100,000 I laughed and said no, handing him a Rp. 20,000 note and turning away.

Closed for business.

He left, still yelling at me, but leaving.

In the quiet, the people near me on the bus started asking questions about who I was and agreeing his price had been ridiculous.

Thanks for sticking up for me now that he’s gone, guys.

Still, it was nice to be affirmed by the locals, and backed up by the bus driver. Sometimes lack of action is the Indonesian’s best support tactic.

Even though I pulled a total bule move by trusting the angkot driver to drop me off somewhere, I emerged from this ring an able Indonesian.

I didn’t freak out. I didn’t get overwhelmed when being yelled at. I didn’t resort back to speaking English while arguing.

I handled my self. No one helped me, and I handled my self. And that feels pretty bad ass.


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