One week with an Indonesian family

Here I am, the only white guy sitting in Kuala Namu International Airport, waiting to fly to Denpasar (Bali). I’m still overwhelmed by the amazing nine days I just had in Kisaran and Sei Silau. Never have I seen so many smiles in my life or have I been called ‘handsome‘ as this week. These nine days were much different then all the other weeks before! Living with locals gives you a much closer and intense experience!
Terimakasih Vanthu!

Some Indonesian Bahasa I’ll use in this post:

  • Bule = foreigner
  • Malu = shy
  • Abang = big brother
  • Sapi = cow
  • Ayam = chicken


Two years ago, I did my first big solo trip in Malaysia. One month in a new continent, new language, new culture, new food…
For two weeks I worked as a volunteer on an organic farm with about 500+ chickens at the time. Some people know it as WWOOFING. You can basically do it in every country! A good way to discover a country in a non-touristic way. On the farm I became good friends with Vanthu, an Indonesian worker from Sumatra.

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Now two years later, he invited me to come to his village and visit his family. Easiest way to get there was flying to Medan. When you arrive in Medan airport, you notice immediately you’re in a less touristic area: I was the only white person. This was only the beginning of my career as a celebrity.
Vanthu gave me the advice to take a shared taxi to his village, which would take about four hours.
Due to traffic jam and rain, it took us seven
In the taxi I met Amin, a really enthusiastic guy from Kisaran. His English was definitely better then my Indonesian, but communication wasn’t easy. The first night I stayed at Amin’s place, who showed me around in Kisaran and took me to his family. While driving through Kisaran, everyone looked at me with big amazement. Apparently I was the first bule ever in Kisaran. This was a word I heard a lot this week. People almost had accidents out of surprise of seeing me.
This was often followed by a big smile and a “where are you come from?”
The next day, Amin brought me to Vanthu’s village which was 30 minutes by motorbike.

“where are you come from?”

Bule Matsou Bieber

Everywhere I came, the children looked at me with open mouths and the girls started giggling. Malu! I became the Justin Bieber from East-Sumatra and everywhere I came, people asked for a picture with me. Almost every day, people drove down to our house for a picture with me.
For some reason they really loved my nose.
There was definitely a remarkable increase in picture uploads on social media that week. At some point, an entire village stood outside to get a glimpse of me. Probably one of the pictures made it to the local newspaper or gets printed on a cereal box.

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Sei Silau

The family from Vanthu welcomed me with open arms! For a week I became abang Matsou. Vanthu’s mom really intended to do my laundry which was done in the river, next to Vanthu’s house. The house was on the side of the village, Sei Silau, next to the river and the forest. Sapi, ayam, ducks and lots of butterflies were hanging out around the house.
For the whole week, we kind of had our daily tasks:

  • In the morning, guide the cows to the other side of the village.
  • Shower in the river
  • Visit friends or family to introduce me
  • Play with the kids
  • Play jungle speed
  • Have a coffee at the shop from Vanthu’s mom
  • Pose on many pictures!

For a first impression of Indonesia, the friends and family did a really good job! They don’t have much, but the little they have, they share with their heart! Always smiling and joking around. Play Song (a card game), sing karaoke, play football, drive around on their motorbikes (they’re born on it) or swim in the river.
Seeing all the kids in their uniform or traditional clothes, puts automatically a big smile! Especially when it’s an entire school standing in front of you, giving you their best smile for a picture!

Thank you so much Vanthu and Amin for you kindness! This was an experience I will never forget and I will definitely come back!
As for now, I’m heading to Bali to do some couchsurfing and discover the secrets of this island.

3 Comment

  1. […] Wong teached me many things about the traditions and local dishes in Malaysia. It’s also how I met Vanthu, my friend from Sei Silau. Because I already knew KL, I was happy to get back to the farm after two years and see if the […]

  2. what a nice post, your photo really is amazing, if you dont mind would you give me a permission to use one of the photos above for my task? i surely will credit you

    1. Hi Amalia,
      I only saw your post now, so a bit later.
      I assum you used the picture in your task, which is not a problem if you indeed credit me.
      Any chance you can share your task with me, so I can see how you used it?
      Kind regards

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