Here is guide to Gili Islands Etiquette, originally written by Gili Shark Conservation (check out their AWESOME work!).

Gili Islands Etiquette

The Gili Islands can – in some ways – be regarded as a different world compared to our western world perspectives. The island of Gili Air contains specific cultural dynamics that can be difficult to understand or interpret for an outsider.

Therefore it is highly recommended that you take effort to indulge yourself in the Indonesian culture, which contains different customs, habits, norms and values than in the western countries.

Of course no one will expect you to immediately understand or behave like an Indonesian- but it will be wise to take some time in order to gain insight into the Indonesian culture(s) and start to think and become a little bit more ‘Indonesian’. You’ll see: this is a good thing and you’ll feel the difference here and when you’re back home (if you ever want to leave again).

Some facts to keep in mind

  • In Indonesia, it is very rude to point with the feet, so if you need to show something, use your hands.
  • Throughout Indonesian society the left hand is used for “toilet duties” and is therefore considered unclean. In Gili Air it is rude and offensive to hand someone something with your left hand, like food or a drink, or to shake hands with your left hand. When you think of where that person’s left hand has been, you probably wouldn’t want anything from it anyhow.
  • Remove your shoes when entering a building and wait to be invited to sit if you are a guest.
  • Smiling and having fun happen naturally when on holiday. Some situations can sometimes be a little frustrating or tiring. Try and deal with these, keeping a smile on your face- the issue will be resulted much easier. Shouting and screaming are very counterproductive and rarely brings a solution. Just keep smiling!
  • Indonesians will highly appreciate it if you (try to) speak their language, even if the quality of your Indonesian is not that great. In fact, if you only know a couple of words you will probably already receive many compliments from the locals (see below some Indonesian phrases that can be helpful).
  • Gili Air is an Islamic island, which means that the dress codes here are very different than in the western world. People are modest, cover their body and sometimes their head. Of course as tourists, we are not expected to dress the same way, but we are expected to be respectful! Please cover yourself with a t-shirt or a sarong when going into the village or a shop. On the beach or on a dive boat, bikini and swimwear are accepted, please do note that being topless or wearing very small and revealing bikinis or G-strings is not appropriate.

Daily Indonesian Phrases

  • Good morning (6AM to 12AM):        Selamat Pagi
  • Good day (12AM to 2PM):                   Selamat Siang 
  • Good afternoon (2PM to 6PM):        Selamat Sore
  • Good evening (6PM to 12PM):          Selamat Malam
  • Thank you:                                                     Terima kasih
  • Yes                                                                       Ya
  • No                                                                        Tidak
  • Maybe:                                                              Mungkin
  • Please:                                                               Tolong
  • Excuse me:                                                      Permisi
  • You’re welcome:                                          Sama sama

Questions and Answers

  • How are you?                             Apa Kabar?
  • I’m fine!                                         Kabar baik!
  • What’s your name?                Siapa nama anda?
  • My name is…                              Nama saya…
  • Where are you from?           Anda dari mana?
  • I am from…                                  Saya dari…

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