Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by mumunmumun on 1 November 2010 • Tips
A warung is basically translated to a shop. It applies to many sorts of business that sells goods. If they’re sellin, then it’s a warung. In Indonesia, warungs are spread like fairy dust in a fairy tale. They’re everywhere on the streets and they sell almost all of your daily necessities. In the Indonesian language, toko also translates to shop, but what differentiates warung to a toko is there is a sense of humility in warung. Warung is smaller, community based, humble and simple compared to a toko. It can sell from a single item to the form of a mini ‘mini market’.
In Indonesia, you will find lots of different types of warung.
Easily translated to eatery. It sells dishes for you to choose and eat. It really is a restaurant. However in Indonesia, when someone says ‘restaurant’ it implies more to a fancy eatery compared to what a warung is. In a warung makan, you can get a plate of rice served with your choice of side dishes.
If you’re a budget traveler, hungry for food on the streets, and have the guts to take a culinary adventure, then a warung makan is what you should ask for to the locals. The more common name for it would be warteg (we’ll save the details of this for next time but just say this and people would understand that you’re hungry).
How to choose a nice clean one? Check if the food is warm, plenty, and the venue has a few visitors. Eating in a warung makan could range about IDR 3,000 – 25,000/dish.
Warung Internet (Warnet)
Another type of warung that you would love is the warnet, or as many travelers might know it as Internet Café. Similar to any other country, it’s a place where you can borrow a computer and get online. The rate varies through out the country, depending how remote you are. The less warnet you find, the more expensive they charge you per hour. The usual tariff would be about IDR 6,000/hour.
Warung Telepon (Wartel)
Wartel is a shop that lends you the telephone for a certain price per second, depending on where you call. So it really doesn’t sell you any physical things, more of providing the service for you to talk to your loved ones abroad. In this age of mobile technology, we don’t find many wartels anymore but they’re around. If you choose not to use our local SIM card or you prefer that familiar ‘Hello’ from the other end of the line, then drop by a Wartel and dial away.
This translates to coffee shop. It sells coffee and snacks and moderate portion of food, most famous would be the availability of Indomie, the Indonesian ramen which is really good, filled with yummy monosodium glutamate. And I’m not being sarcastic… Slurp!
We do have to warn you that the coffee is usual the 3 in 1 or 2 in 1 instant coffee, but a genuine cup of Java can also be found on the streets. It’s cheap and a far experience from any Starbucks, may it be good and bad 🙂
Plain warung is the most general of them all. A warung is a small shop that sells you your daily needs, from soap, toothpaste, pens, cookies, candy bars, needle and thread, almost anything you need.
They’re actually any traveler’s best friend because it’s amazing how they can pull out whatever it is you’re looking for. They also have more friendly open hours that can reach up to really late in the night. Some are even open 24 hours if you just had the guts to wake up the keeper. And since distribution is such a problem in this country, you might find the most unique things in a warung.
Is the last but not least. This type of warung sells cigarettes as its main product, a side from a small quantity of what a plain warung sells. You can get your cigarette packs or you can even buy them per piece. Yes, you can buy just one for the sake of curiosity, but smoking is bad for you.. tsk tsk tsk!
Appearance wise it’s at least about 2 x 1 m, and can squeeze goods and one person to sleep in. It’s like toy house that’s made of wood, also known as a kios (kiosk).
In general, we’re not very good in business. Most of us have no clue of what ‘competition’ means. Warungs are everywhere, and similar types would run their business side by side as long as they can generate money. Don’t be surprised to see plain warungs side by side even though from a glimpse it seems they’re selling the same thing. They probably are.
What I love about them is that they are lower class or family run business. The keepers are mostly nice and friendly, and they would serve you as long as they make money. As a kid, it was quite often I went to the nearest warung and bought just one piece of candy. And for every one of them, most of the time the keeper would serve me very well, with a tease and a smile. Now how do you not love that?
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