Gato, losmen staff | Jogyakarta, Indonesia | January 15, 2010
Gato works at a losmen (guesthouse) in Jogyakarta and is passionate about traveling and learning more about his country. He said if he had the opportunity, he would study and teach history.
Yogyakarta (Jogya) is one of Java’s main tourist attractions and is a city renowned for arts and education. Borobudur Temple and Prambanan Temple are both UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites that can be easily explored from Yogya.
LPT: What do you think are some problems with tourism in Yogyakarta?
GT: The problem is the children of the locals don’t know the cultures of tourists because they’ve never been to Europe or America or Australia. Because everybody there (western countries) is independent, yeah? For Americans, Australians, and Europeans when you’re 18 or 17 years old, you must grow up and leave your family to study or to live your own life.
But in Indonesia we don’t explain how you have to be independent and free but we do explain about the importance of family and marriage. If you’re not married, you still live together with your parents.
LP: So how do you think we can help local people and tourists understand each others culture better?
GT: Back to communication, back to the cultures of the two people. If people like to communicate, they should smile because a smile is a present from God. Money…1 billion US dollars…is nothing if you don’t have smiles because smiling is more expensive than money.
LPT: So both sides should learn to smile more?
GT: Yes! Because smiling is the price. With a loving, smiling person, everybody says “hello!” If people are serious and never smile, they are always paranoid. That is my understanding, yeah.
This goes back to the people. When people like to study and go back to school on their own, it’s the best. Because going back to school from the inside of your heart is beautiful.
LPT: What should tourists be mindful of when they’re traveling in Indonesia?
GT: 100% when tourists are traveling to Asia, they must first check with their heart – by honoring and opening their heart. You must believe 100% in yourself because if you’re serious about traveling a long time in Eastern Asia and you want to understand the local people, you must know yourself first. And you must check with yourself because if you never check in with yourself and just following the Lonely Planet guide it’ll just tell you to be careful on this island, that island, every island.
But take the public bus on your own and go by yourself. On the street in the Borobudour, and everywhere the number one thing is to ask – asking is the best.
LPT: Asking who?
GT: Asking for information from the locals – “Where can I find this address?” And you must say ‘hello’ because saying ‘hello’ is not very expensive, ok?
If you’re always just following the Lonely Planet than there’s no trust in local people. But what I said before, the number one thing is to smile and say, “hello” to everybody.
LPT: Which country would you like to visit, if you were to travel?
GT: Before I wanted to travel to other countries like Thailand or like Singapore or Malaysia or like China.
For me, if I have time, if I have money; the number one thing now is to know my country – Indonesia. Indonesia has many islands and 50-60% of people in Indonesia never know our own islands. They may know information about other countries.
So now I don’t have time, I don’t have money because my time is spent only working, working, working. I’m dreaming of knowing about Sumatra; I want to go to Borneo.
But lots of people, the capitalists or the mafias and the politicians, a lot of people are only thinking about money. Just only thinking about getting something, how to make their family rich and they don’t care about the island, beautiful Indonesia.