How can I communicate while in Bogor? Can Locals speak foreign languages? Sorry, those are just imaginary questions. I have no problems as I can speak Indonesian and Sundanese.
I am just trying to put myself in foreign tourists’ shoes. What will the first questions raise in their mind when they make their travel plan to Bogor, or other countries? Hey, perhaps it sounds like I read Quora too much but this kind of questions always crosses in my mind whenever a job to visit my overseas’ customers.
Being able to communicate with locals is a must. This is very important to our survival in foreign countries and every traveler should have such kind of question in their mind.
Especially, because Bogor is not one of famous tourist destinations for foreigners, although more than 100 thousands foreign tourists pay a visit to this city but still the city is still not considered as major tourism destination in Indonesia. Bali should be the first name in Indonesia.
The question about whether or not the city is “safe” and “friendly” for the visitors may rely on the answer. So, the question seems to be very reasonable, I guess.
What is the answer? Is it easy to communicate in foreign language in Bogor?
There is always no firm answer to the question. It depends on many variables. However, in general, I really don’t think there should be difficulties for tourists to get information or to communicate with people in Bogor.
Bogor is like Jakarta in smaller size. Besides, it’s in close proximity with Jakarta, its big brother, only about 50-60 kilometers.
Lots of Bogor citizens earn a living by working in Indonesia’s Capital. Many of them enjoyed higher education in universities or academy. Therefore, plenty of Bogor people have been accustomed with foreign language, passively or actively.
Furthermore, at least English has been taught since Elementary School (the basic one). With this fact, Bogor citizens are quite accustomed with one foreign language, English in their life. Of course, do not expect them to be able to speak in fluent English like in Singapore or Australia, as English is still not Indonesia second language but many understand English and can speak it fluently.
Foreign visitors can expect to find no problem to communicate with hotel staffs, travel agencies, or tour guide. Those are sectors where the persons have a good language ability.
The two foreigners in the above picture captured during the last February Lantern Festival 2017 seemed to have no difficulties to even buy traditional food from local street vendor. I saw them buying and chewing “comro” (a local snack/food made from fried cassava) while seeing the parade.
Besides, you may be surprised to know that one “Cingcau Ice” street vendor, similar to the one in the below picture, is known to be able to speak in 5 different languages fluently.
Yes, five languages. You read correctly and I didn’t type mistakenly. He has become viral in Indonesia for his ability. (I can only speak Indonesian, English, and a bit of Japanese, 2 and a tenth only)
How about other languages?
This should not be a problem either. Many tour guide in Bogor Botanical Garden are capable of speaking Dutch, German very well. I heard them explained about the history of the Big Gardens like they came from the countries.
Chinese? Oh, don’t worry. We have Chinatown in Suryakencana Streets. Many of them inherit the capability to speak Mandarin or Hokkien.
Arabic? More than 200.000 thousands of Indonesian go hajj to Mecca every year and the leader of each continent is Indonesian who speaks Arabic. Bogor populations are mostly moslem and many have gone hajj. Besides, one of place in Bogor has become the favorite of visitors from Arab continent, Puncak. You may find many people from this region here. Arabic is not a problem.
How about Japanese? I am graduated from the Faculty of Letters, majoring in Japanese. I have lots of friends from Bogor who graduated from the same major. No, I don’t think this is a problem.
Basically, in short (although I made it already quote long), there should be no problem in the line of communication with locals.
So, if you understand English, no need to be perfect British, then you will be fine. Many can understand this language as Bogor citizens also watch Tom Cruise, James Bond, Transformer, and many other English speaking movies (even many times with subtitles) but they are accustomed with this language.
The only obstacle for developing the communication is that people may be a bit too shy when they face foreigners. It is not so often, like Bali, to have visitors from overseas (well average 300-325 people a day only). However, if you (assuming you are a foreigner) can smile and try to open the communication, then people will also respond in friendly manners. (Unfortunately, I forgot to ask the name or the contact number of the couple in the picture that can allow you to ask them for a testimony about what I write in this article :-D)
This is my answer to my own imaginary question whether or not it is difficult to communicate with locals while in Bogor.