“Your meet me call me, to piet padang.I LIKE YOU.SEE YOU BY.And I LOVE YOU,SORRY.”
It was the night before I left Padang, Sumatra, to return to Jakarta, when I received this sms from “Piet Padang”.
I had met some Australians earlier that trip at the hotel I was staying at. They lived in Padang for half the year to run tourist boats to the Mentawai islands.
They were heading in the same direction as me and offered me a lift to Senggigi Beach, where I was planning to get on a boat to Sikoai island and have some relaxing time alone. We all sat in the back of the ute (Aussie for utility vehicle) and took a ride around the mountains.
The others jumped out at their stop and left me and their driver, Piet, in the ute alone for the five-minute drive from there to the beach.
Within three of those minutes, he asked me for my phone number. Considering he’d just given me a lift, I figured it would be impolite to say no, so I gave it to him.
Over the next three days in Sumatra, he called me around 15 times. I wondered why Indonesian men got so serious about women, especially foreign women, so quickly. And then it hit me: sex. Derr.
The only reason this young man told me he loved me after knowing me for those five minutes was because he thought getting me into bed would be that simple.
This is no isolated incident. Ask any foreign woman living here if she has ever been stalked, and you’ll hear stories of incessant phone calls, men waiting at doorsteps and professions of love.
With these hasty declarations of adoration, which are obvious ploys to get bule (Westerner) women in the sack, a lot of female expats are naturally wary of Indonesian men.
It still seems that sex is something men have to convince women to do. If you, the woman, did choose to have a fling, you could imagine the feeling of triumph in the man’s head of the things he “got you to do”, without even thinking for a second about the things you got him to do.
Every day, I walk down the street and a bunch of local men yell out “Hello Miss”, which is usually followed by roars of laughter. For some reason, just saying hello to a foreign woman is a hilarious, witty remark.
Walking further, I hear a “pss pss pss” in my direction, like I’m some kind of animal whose curiosity would be aroused by the exact same sound every day.
The expat male, however, walks down the street completely unharassed, even though just as many women may look at him with the same lust. A quick look and a giggle among girlfriends is what usually happens, and that’s the end of that. The expat male walks away with dignity.
Yet in bars and clubs, where male attention might be more appropriate and welcome, the expat woman becomes invisible to the opposite sex. In this scenario, even I, all 5 foot nothing of me, am often too tall for Indonesian men to approach and often inappropriately boisterous. And I’m sure I’m often not girly enough for many locals’ taste, which seems to be long hair, a face full of make up, tight skimpy tops, short skirts and pair of wedges or stilettos, well, in this situation anyway.
So that narrows the expat woman’s options down to the expat man, and as I look around, I see that most of them are with Indonesian women. Why not? So many of them are beautiful, femininely petite and so interested in “the white man’s money” that they’re subservient when required.
It is such a common sight, as it is in most developing countries, to see rich old white men with young attractive Indonesian women in very unhealthy and imbalanced relationships.
Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of friends who are in very healthy Indonesian/Western romantic relationships, and I do think it’s possible for a 25-year-old woman to fall in love with a 60-year-old man.
But when I see older bule men with their young Indonesian girlfriends, I feel they’re usually in denial about their age. They come here with the dollar, which buys them whatever they want — wives, mistresses, maids, masseuses, strippers and prostitutes. No wonder so many never go home.