Indonesia Inquiry

Indonesian Time

March 20, 2011 Communities and Cultures Language Learning Travel & Living Abroad Travel Advice 0
Clocks and time

Here are some useful notes about the concept and language of time and how it works in Indonesia:

== Jam Karet ==

“Jam Karet” means “rubber time.”  For Indonesians, time is often flexible, but it depends on the situation.  Many factors may cause someone to be late or a no-show for example, and it is often understood that the reasons were “good enough” and sometimes “out of your control.”

“Besok” (tomorrow) can actually mean “tomorrow,” “a few days from now,” “next month,” or even “next year.”  The same is true for “kemarin” (yesterday) which can mean “yesterday,” “a few days ago,” “last month,” or even “last year.”  As a foreigner, if you need specifics, try to ask for them, but do not be surprised if you do not always get the details you want or need.

Keep in mind that there may be different cultural expectations regarding time across the archipelago, and much will depend on who you are interacting with and how your status is perceived.  For instance, “Westerners” are often perceived to be more strict about time, so a “Westerner” might be expected to be on time or early even if the Indonesian individual is not.  Also, different Indonesian ethnic groups may have various stereotypes or expectations of one another, which also affect their perceptions of punctuality.  In still other cases, punctuality is expected in certain venues such as government meetings, interviews, conferences, or mixed audiences.

== Time-related Words & Phrases in English and Indonesian ==

— What time is it? / Jam berapa?

— It’s three o’clock. / Jam tiga.

— It’s ten past four. / Jam empat lewat sepuluh.

— It’s a quarter to five. / Jam lima kurang seperempat.

— It’s six-thirty. / Jam setengah tujuh. (meaning “half to seven”)

— Good morning! / Selamat pagi!

— Good (early) afternoon! / Selamat siang!

— Good (late) afternoon! / Selamat sore!

— Good night! / Selamat malam!

— today / hari ini

— tomorrow / besok

— yesterday / kemarin

— Monday / Hari Senin

— Tuesday / Hari Selasa

— Wednesday / Hari Rabu

— Thursday / Hari Kamis

— Friday / Hari Jumat

— Saturday / Hari Sabtu

— Sunday / Hari Minggu

== Note on Office Hours ==

— Government offices open from 8:00am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday in Jakarta and close on Saturday and Sunday. In the provinces, they close around 3:00pm and are open on Saturday until 1:00pm.

— Business offices have staggered hours. Some open from 8:00am to 4:00pm or 9:00am to 5:00pm.  Some stay open for half a day on Saturday.  Banks are open from either 8:00 or 8:30am to 2:00pm.  Banks in hotels stay open longer hours, and money-changers tend to be open until the evening.

== General Resources ==

* Online Calendar:

* Earth Calendar (holidays by country and religion):

* FoxClocks (Firefox Add-On): “FoxClocks lets you keep an eye on the time around the world – or just your local time – by putting small clocks in your statusbar. Choose from a set of useful standard time formats or create your own – custom formats are easy to create and very flexible.”  Go to