Does anyone can indicate me some common courtesies and customs that should follow when visiting Indonesia?
Simple, ask permission before taking photographs. And at certain outlying areas, ladies bathe in the open although clothe in their sarongs, taking photos of them is a definite no no unless you want to incur the wrath of their husbands or menfolk, they may chase you with their lethal Kris, a weapon fashioned after the snake, long and deadly!
Take off your shoes when entering their sacred temples, ladies always wear a scarf or tie a sash around the waist, this is to denote respect. No shorts or revealing clothes, and women are strictly forbidden to enter any temples when they are menstruating. Indonesians believe that the menstruating women are somehow "unclean".
Do the Indonesian greeting practiced by the majority of Indonesians, somewhat similar to the Thailand Wai, although here in Indonesia the closed palms are brought to the forehead instead of to the nose or chest as in Thailand. Just imitate what the Indonesians do.
Nude sunbathing may not be tolerated in their very strict conservative country, so prudence and propriety is necessary. do not show your temper however pissed off you may be. Indonesians are a gentle people and do not take rage or fiery temper kindly there. So relax and just go with the flow no matter how incensed you may be with their customs or deathly slow pace of life. Most importantly never never use your left hand to eat, to receive or hand an Indonesian something as this is considered extremely impolite. Malays as well as Indonesian use their left hands for toiletry purposes and is considered "unclean".
Finally just relax and enjoy yourself.
More social customs here:
http://www.examiner.com/travel-in-los-angeles/culturally-correct-how-to-behave-like-a-local-indonesia about 5 years ago
I've just returned from touring Indonesia & I visited loads of temples. I do not believe that the case regarding menustration holds anymore. The subject was never broached on my trip right through Indonesia (& there were women of menustration age on the trip) though I was aware at one time that this had been the case since our guide mentioned it. Men & women were all required to wear a sarong when visiting any temple and sometimes a sash around their waist and for the men sometimes a kinda Hindu looking headgear. At no stage were women required ro wear a scarf however we weren't in any mosque because it wasn't allowed during Ramadan.
So many people took photographs without asking iin the group it was unbelievable. There were some avid photographers and they had the cameras right up in peoples faces half the time but the Indonesias were too poliite to object. It was almost as if they felt superior to those they were photographing & didn't think how they might feel if a tourist shoved a camera in their face when the're in their country.
In Muslims and Christian areas they use the western handshake however in Hindu areas they use the closed palms. We only took off our shoes om Sultans residences and a palace, not temples but don't worry cause you will be told when & what is required.
If you have to, on a rare occasion, ever use the left hand if the right hand is occupied, you have to do it extremely apologetically, left arm under right arm with a bow but even if you've left handed try not to use it normally.
Bend slightly when meeting (or leaving) elderly people or someone in authority. Dress conservatively (& that applies to men too), as well as respecting local customs particularly in Muslim areas, it will protect you from mosquito bites and sunburn. During Ramadan, which is just over, try not to eat or drink infront of fasting people, mind you the locals found the sight of a row of 10 westerners eating ice cream on the sidewalk during Ramadan funny. about 5 years ago
Ah yes, totally agree with what Hilary has written above on common courtesies. Very insightful.
I wonder how Indonesian tell whether a woman is menstruating or otherwise? Can they tell from a look or from some mystical tell-tale signs a mentruating woman bears? Strange!
Oh yes, in some rural areas, the women still go around topless as depicted in paintings displayed in major museums around the world. Never never ogle at them as it is extremely rude. A quick side glance is permissible though, but do not be too obvious as you may be considered a pervert over there. Most times though, the lady folks do have a decent bra over their bare breasts but do remove them to facilitate household chores and farming due to the exceptionally humid weather and oppressive heat there. Copious perspiration is the norm as you will be too as it is Summer there all year round. You won't want to go round drenched in sweat. It will be very unlikely for you to meet up with these tantalizing bare breasted females, but if you are so lucky, do not act surprised and do cast your gaze on the ground so as not to offend them. about 5 years ago
As I said Patrick I visited countless temples in Java and Bali and this menustration rule didn't apply. I remember at one, I think privately owned temple (by a family), the guide mentioned it had applied at one time however I don't know why the rule was changed or was an explanation given.
I reckon they relied on menustrating women respecting their culture & their honesty to cooperate whenever the rule was explained to them wherever it was applicable. Perhaps some Indonesians here could give us more insight into this. about 5 years ago
For open public temples this menstrual rule isn't applied, might apply only in private owned temples like Hillary said.
It's very simple actually for us Indonesians, our expectation to foreigners, be polite (don't yell, don't swear) and please smile back to us :) then you'll be just fine here. about 5 years ago