Should we travel and accept every rule with a smile on a face?

Every time we travel our rules are tested in many ways. Some are easy to understand, others are deeply hidden in the country culture.

This afternoon I started to think about unwritten rules, culture, and religion. Coming from the western side of the word, I was told to choose what is the best for me. That only with hard work I would get what I want, and keep the search alive to make my dreams come true. More or less, that has been my belief.

Until here, I think all the readers of this blog agree this is normal.

But not really. The conflict starts when the world next to me has a lot more rules than mine. Yes, traveling for me it’s (many times) breaking the rules, but don’t get me wrong, I believe it’s important to have some. But again, some realities just makes me feel strangely different.

“We have to respect the local rules.”

A few days ago I told you that Anisa and I went on a trip. We went to Surabaya to, once again meet her family and tell them what are our plans for the next months. And so I said: “We want to live out of Indonesia for some time, and experience the western lifestyle with all the opportunities that involve”.

I always thought that it would sound simple, and everyone would say “GO FOR IT GUYS!” …but not really when it comes to family. I do remember how bad and protective my parents behave with my idea of traveling around the world in 2012. Regardless the fears that normally parents have when they get this information, believe me, it gets worst because my girlfriend is Indonesian, with conservative concern parents.

And in the conservative world, the man has to marry the woman. And that is just the beginning of things going strange. Although we managed to buy some time on Anisa’s family avoiding the “marriage” topic, we know they expect from us a quick decision.

“But why, if you guys just met in less than a year?”

That was my question. But traveling gave me an answer for it. After Surabaya, we decided to travel around Indonesia on remote villages in Banten. Today, while we were waiting to know if the Villa had a room available for us, Anisa hugged me on a public desert road, near a rice field where nothing really happens. That was our thought, or maybe we are both too careless to understand that someone was looking at us.

That someone was one of the rice field workers. His legs were full of mud and he was wearing brown shorts and a dirty white t-shirt. He walks towards us and starts to say something. “He says that is not allowed to touch each other in public area,” tells me, Anisa. The men keep saying words with his finger pointing to the end of the road. “This is a public road and it’s better you leave this place.” translates Anisa for me. “And?” I ask with an unexpected face. “We better go. I don’t want to have conflicts with locals. We have to respect the local rules.”

travel accept every rule smile face

Maybe Anisa’s choice was right, but I know I wouldn’t have gone away that easy. We left anyway, with that bad vibe that sometimes happens. We should know better that this kind of things happens and letting go is always a good way. After that, we kept searching for a place to stay. We found a really nice hotel and we book it. We were excited to just get in this nice, and comfy place, and finally, rest.

The night before we slept badly. The wooden house with bamboo walls made all the rain storm and frogs croaking sound so loud that we jump our beds at 7am, with our grumpy face, and started our day. Around 5pm we get finally to the reception of the hotel. But we both forgot a classic traveling rule: never take things for granted. The lady at the reception welcome us and asks our documents. Her voice is clear and she was always smiling. She looks to our ID’s and her eyes change but the smile continues. She is pregnant. She holds her belly and tell us that, because we are not married, we can’t stay in the same room. This time even Anisa got surprised about this rule. The lady holds the smile, holds the belly, but never looked the same again.

“It’s a bad karma if we hurt a pregnant”

Anisa said. We left, feeling that today wasn’t our day for Pandeglang village. We kept on going to the next city called Serang. The first hotel we tried was fully booked. Yep, it was one of those days that we need an extra energy to keep searching. We tried another hotel in the same city but this time we said that we were recently married, and we are waiting for the new ID cards… I’m not sure if he just ignores it and made our life easy, or if he really believed it. However, we finally got our room on the land of rules.

travel accept every rule smile face

There are two lessons (minimum) we are taking from this travel episode:

Indonesia is not a place for dating! If you like someone you propose her, marry first and date after. You probably will have to convert to Muslim anyway and since you have to pray 5 times a day, you will have plenty of time to forgive yourself from any bad choice you make.

A more easy lesson is, once you meet someone you like, you better get out of Indonesia and travel to a country where people don’t give a damn about you, as long as you have enough money to pay your things. Easy.

And that’s exactly what we are going to do on the 28th in November!
We will explain where are we heading soooooon and what will we going to do! 🙂

Luís Simões
Luís Simões

In 2012 I started a World Sketching Tour and since then, this has been my lifestyle. More intense, more for others, more open on how to look and judge. The tour made me get out of routines and safe places, which often leave me numb just seeing life go by slowly. Sketching has aroused my curiosity for “what will it be like on the other side of the mountain?”.

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