Some words just feel better in a foreign language. Even when they are translatable, the translations just don’t do the words justice. This is a list of Indonesian (and Javanese) words, which I have chosen not to translate.

  • bak mandi – a container filled with water in a typical Indonesian bathroom (see mandi).
  • bapak – really just means father but can also mean Mr. or sir. When I use bapak, I’m probably referring to my host father.
  • bule – for all intents and purposes, equates to foreigner. Technically, it means albino, thus its original association with white foreigners in particular. Today, with increased diversity and increased travel, it can mean any foreigner. Some people interpret the word as a slur. Personally, I’ve rarely found it necessary to take the word too seriously.
  • ibu – translates to mother but can also mean Mrs. or ma’am. In the blog, I usually use ibu to refer to my host mother.
  • mandi – means to shower but not necessarily to stand under a shower head. Showering in Indonesia typically means scooping cold water out of a large container and pouring it over yourself.