List of Normal Prices for Various Things In Indonesia

This is a list of the local prices for various goods and services in Indonesia. They were sourced from my own experience with help from local Indonesians. I compiled the list so that others might avoid being overcharged, and also as an interesting study on the price differences between Indonesia and Australia.

The average daily salary in Indonesia is somewhere around 50,000 IDR. That’s about 5 AUD, and it’s really the only number you need to remember from all this. The daily salary is your measuring stick with which you can avoid scams, tip helpers and basically pay for anything without feeling you’ve been cheated.

In most of the tables; for each item, there is a minimum and maximum price. This is for the following semi-obvious reasons:

  • Different Areas: Indonesia is by no means homogeneous.  Some areas, like Bali, are heavily populated by cashed up tourists, and so the prices will be higher. Rural areas and tourist-free areas will represent the minimum price.
  • Different Sizes or Quantities: Larger shoes, jackets and shirts are understandably more expensive. Also, the Nasi Campur at Warung Enak may be half the size of that at Warung Bagus – thus, a price difference.
  • Different Quality: This applies especially for non-food goods. Shoes, apparel and accessories bought in the street stalls and markets will usually be of the lower quality. Larger stores in malls tend to stock real brands, and so along with the increase in quality, you can expect a considerable increase in price.

Warung Food:

A warung is a small, street-side, family owned business. It may just be a mobile kitchen cart, or it may be in a small building. This is where you’ll find the traditional Indonesian meals at their cheapest (and often at their best). Note: I showed this list to some Indonesians (here) and they’ve assured me that away from tourist areas, they often get warung meals 20-30% cheaper than the minimums listed below, and up to 50% cheaper if the meal is without meat.

Item Min. Price Max Price
Nasi Goreng (Fried Rice) 10000 20000
Nasi Campur (Rice & Sides) 10000 15000
Mie Goreng (Fried Noodles) 10000 12000
Mie Rebus (Boiled Noodles) 10000 12000
Sate Ayam (Chicken on Skewers) 13000 17000
Sate Daging (Beef on Skewers) 13000 17000
Item Min. Price Max Price
Teh Panas (Hot Tea) 4000 7000
Teh Botol (Cold Bottle of Tea) 5000 7000
Kopi Susu (White Coffee) 3000 5000
Kopi Tubruk (Black Coffee) 2000 4000
Susu Hanget (Warm Milk) 4000 9000
Es Campur (Sliced Fruit and Ice) 5000 12000
Soda/Soft Drink Cans 5000 10000
Es Kelapa Muda (Coconut Drink) 5000 10000
Jus (Blended Fruit Smoothie) 7000 10000
Ice Cream 3000 7000
Bintang (sml/big) 20000 30000

Transport:

It’s easy to be overcharged for transport, even if you’re warned in advance that you’re going to be overcharged. These prices should save you some trouble (note that ‘k’ (for kilo) means it’s in units of 1000):

Vehicle 10 mins 1 hour 1 day
Ojek (Scooter) 5k-10k 30k 50k-100k
Taxi/Van 20k 130k 300k-400k
Public Bus 5000 10000 -
Dokar (Horse & Cart) 3000 10000 ?
Bemo (Small Van) 5000 15000 ?
Becak (Bike Taxi) 3000 10000 ?

Note that the price for 1 day will also depend on how far you’re travelling. The driver has to consider getting back home at the end of the day, and also petrol (or feeding his horse). If you just want to be taken around town for a day, the prices above should be fairly accurate. If you want to head to the distant mountains, you may have to add 20%.

Shoes, Clothes, Accessories:

Item Min. Price Max. Price
Shirt 50000 200000
Shorts 50000 150000
Pants 90000 250000
Sunglasses 20000 200000
Sandals 50000 150000
Shoes 90000 200000
Short Dress 70000 130000
Long Dress 90000 200000
Towel 35000 60000
Casual Bracelet 10000 50000
Street Jewellery 50000 100000

As mentioned in the into, the large price ranges here are mainly due to the different qualities of goods. Expect lower quality, no-name or knock-offs to be towards the lower price and the ‘real’ stuff to be closer to the upper price.

Other Food & Products:

Item Min. Price Max. Price
Rambutan Fruit 15000/kg 30000/kg
Bananas 15000/kg 25000/kg
Apples 40000/kg -
Durian Fruit 25000 (sml) 50000 (big)
Orange 15000/kg 25000/kg
Sugar 11000/kg 14000/kg
Dry Rice 230000/25kg ?
Packet of Dry Mie Goreng 2000 -
Loaf of Sliced Bread (sml) 11000 25000
Bottle of water 3000 (sml) 5000 (big)
Bottle of Juice 6000 (sml) ?
Pack of 14 smokes 14000 18000
Toothepaste (large) 12000 16000
Sunscreen 50000 70000
Pen 3000 10000
250ml Jelly/Juice Cups 1000 2000

Accommodation:

A night at the cheapest hotel in a non-touristy town may cost you as little 50000 per night, but you may have to search around a bit. The standard ‘cheap’ price seems to be about 100,000 per night, and that’ll get you a room with a fan, but no aircon. Aircon is usually 150,000-250,000. Anything above that and you’re getting into higher class hotels that I tend to avoid. Surprisingly, almost every hotel that I’ve stayed at (even those in the sub-100,000 region) had either a double bed, or two single beds – so if you’re travelling with a friend or partner, those prices above are for the both of you.

Paying Off Police

Sadly, corruption is a daily occurrence in Indonesia, and though I’ve been luck enough to avoid it so far, I’ll inevitably bump into it some day. From word of mouth I’ve heard that locals sometimes pay as little as 10,000 Rupiah for a ‘fine’ of the no-helmet or no-licence variety. To pull something like this off though, you’ve got to keep 2 wallets. One with all your money and cards in, and the other with only the 10,000 Rupiah in it. If you’re caught red handed without a licence and with a 50,000 Rupiah note, you may just have to hand it over. If you’re stopped at a larger, organised police stop with no licence, you may have a more serious problem on your hands. All this is just hearsay though, so check out some other resources (use Google) if you’re worried about this.

Thoughts

The wealth disparity between Australia and Indonesia is something that’s bugged me more and more the longer I’ve spent in Indonesia. I’ve got many Indonesian friends who work all day for 5 AUD, and I get the feeling that something’s not right if I can work for 1 hour and earn more than my friends do in a week. The work that I’m doing is no harder, and often requires no more skill; this unearned privilege is a simple product of being an Australian citizen.

That’s the reality though – its a problem of politics and corruption [1]. Is there anything we can do? Well, the tourism industry is certainly helping, but in the end, I think the country just needs time. With time, I think we can expect a more stable economy, a trustworthy government, and therefore a steadily deflating Indonesian Rupiah.

But we can’t forget about this problem, because it’s one that we are constantly reminded of while travelling in Indonesia. I’ve got a few rules which help me solve problems related to the wealth disparity. Some are about dealing with certain situations nicely, and others are just certain philosophies I have – feel free to take some, all, or none:

  1. Don’t be offended when you find that someone has overcharged you by 50 cents. It’s really easy to take offence. Of course, you don’t care about the 50 cents, it’s just the dishonesty that offends you. Well, if 50 cents meant you and your family could have a little chicken or fish with your dinner tonight, then I don’t think you’d mind taking an extra 50 cents from a cashed up tourist either.
  2. Regarding bartering: If it seems like a fair price to you (it’s probably already half the Australian price), then there’s no need to barter lower.
  3. Always offer to pay for the meals, tickets, accommodation, etc. of Indonesians who you may happen to meet and travel with. Don’t just assume that because they agreed to go with you to a certain restaurant, event, or place, that they can afford it.
  4. Sometimes, especially if travelling alone, you might meet an Indonesian who you become friends with and travel around for the day. At the end of the day, feel free to give 50,000 IDR for their help, but make sure to frame it with an excuse, like you’re giving it to them for petrol, or as a last resort ‘their time’. If they ask for more (for almost any reason), they’ve played this game with other tourists and are just trying to get money out of you. If they are good friends they will likely try to refuse it, and that’s where you throw in your excuse.

As some final advice, I’d just say to make sure you remember the average daily salary of 50,000 Rupiah – weigh everything on this. Also, don’t let bartering stress you out. The sellers have learned to de-humanise the interaction, and so should you – don’t take anything personally, and though they may appear full of emotion, be assured that it is only their well practiced sales character.

Happy travels!

[1] Vinay Kumar Bhargava, E. P. (2004). Challenging corruption in Asia: case studies and a framework for action. World Bank Publications.

Does Life (or abiogenesis) Decrease Entropy?

Just now I read an article explaining very meticulously that a blended frog will not resume its live state if heated in a beaker over a Bunsen burner. Here is that intriquing article.

The writer of the article, Charles Creager Jr., with high-school textbook in hand, even went so far as to write a 4 page paper for the (mildly partial) “Creation Research Society Quarterly” to drive home his point: that life reverses the universe’s intrinsic dispersion of energy, and breaks the second law of thermodynamics.

I’m not going to break down everything that’s wrong with his article, mainly because everything is wrong, but also because I couldn’t bring myself to read all of it. For the reader who values their time, let it only be known that at one point he begins with:

Heat is one source of energy available for pre-biotic chemicals or proto-cells, so we’ll heat up our frognog.

and, a few sentences later, contentedly ends with:

Heat is clearly not capable of making life from non life.

And just in case the reader wasn’t convinced that a blended frog cannot be heated back into a frog, he provides a few equations to add to the certainty of this radical conclusion.

But the link between life, and entropy maybe isn’t all that obvious. So, though I can’t forgive Charles Creager Jr. for his unfathomable incomprehensions of basic physics, I can easily understand anyone who intuitively feels that life must break the universal law of increasing entropy in an isolated system.

The purpose of this piece, then, is to thoroughly convince you that life does not break the law of ever increasing entropy in an isolated system, and as long as you’re not Mr. Creager Jr. this shouldn’t be too hard.

A quick note before we begin: I want to be careful that you don’t finish reading this piece and feel less important as a living creature. We can do better than to value ourselves by the physical laws to which our bodies are subjected. This will make more sense at the end of this piece, but rather trying to fight reality, enjoy it. Find value in the fact that you, a instantaneous blink in the scope of the universe, 13.72 billion years in the making, are as much a part of this universe as the grains of sand beneath your feet and the stars of the Milky Way above.

The best intuition for entropy

Let’s first be sure we understand what entropy actually is. I think that a lot of the misunderstanding of the life-entropy situation can be traced an incomplete or incorrect definition.

You’ve probably heard that entropy is a measure of ‘disorder’ in a system. This is accurate if interpreted correctly, but the word ‘order’ can be taken in a few different ways in different contexts, so misunderstandings abound.

For example, take an empty universe, throw in a bunch of fine, electrically neutral, white dust particles, and watch them swirl about for a billion years. They’re just swishing and curling around in a state that looks very disorderly. Over the next few billion years though, gravity arranges them into little balls, and then bigger balls, and then eventually, one very big ball of white dust.

In this example, it seems like the disorder (i.e. entropy) of a system has decreased over time, eventually resulting in a very orderly sphere of dust. Of course, the entropy hasn’t decreased – it’s just that our definition of ‘disorder’ isn’t ideal as a metric for entropy, and is completely counter-intuitive in some situations.

It’s best to think of an increase in entropy as a decrease in potential energy. This isn’t the actual definition of entropy, but the intuition it grants us makes it a good replacement for now. The positions and properties of particles affect how much potential energy a system has. Potential energy can be stored by gravitational attraction, electromagnetic forces, and any other force of interaction between particles.

When a ball sits on a hill, it has more gravitational potential energy. When it rolls to the bottom, it has less gravitational potential energy. The inverse is true for the quantity of entropy. When the ball sits at the top of the hill the system has less entropy, and when the ball rolls to the bottom, the system has more entropy.

The statement that a ball will not roll up a hill is just a more specific version of the statement that the entropy of an system will not decrease.

If entropy could decrease, as well as meaning that a ball could roll up a hill, it would mean that that magnets wouldn’t stick together, that ice cubes would get colder when placed on hot pavement and that stable molecules would break into their individual ions – the universe would fall apart, or rather, it simply wouldn’t be possible in the first place.

So, in a sentence, fundamental forces (or “interactive forces”) like gravitation and electromagnetism exert themselves and cause the potential energy of a system to decrease, which is (in its effect) equivalent to an increase in entropy.

And if you’d like a replacement for the somewhat clumsy concept of ‘disorder’ as an intuitive metric for entropy, then think ‘settledness‘. Over time, things tend to settle down into an equilibrium state, and the way physicists in the field of thermodynamics describe this is via the somewhat abstract concept of entropy.

The origin of the confusion

When an archer pulls back the string on her bow, she is converting kinetic energy from her muscles into potential energy which is stored in the bow. When the bow string is released, the potential energy is rapidly converted into kinetic energy as the bow attempts to resume its equilibrium state (which is the state with the lowest potential energy and therefore the highest entropy). This kinetic energy is imparted to the arrow, which accelerates towards the target.

To avoid confusion, the potential and kinetic energy should be thought of as a property of the bow-archer-arrow system, rather than of the bow, or the archers arm, or the arrow separately. If we look at only the bow, we might be confused at how it spontaneously gained potential energy (and decreased in entropy). It’s only when we consider the archer’s muscles as well that we see that the total entropy has actually increased – as we expect.

When calculating the total change in entropy, we must take all interacting entities into consideration.

Let’s have another example:

A small seed has fallen from the forest canopy above and landed in damp, fertile ground. A week later, it’s two embryonic seed leaves have emerged, and in a few more days its stem forms and begins to elongate as it stretches upwards, following the rays of sunlight to the pockets of sky above.

How is it that this tree, now 30 metres tall after 10 years of growing, has increased its potential energy, seemingly defying physical laws of existence. No rock or mountain or dead leaf, or any other non-living thing could do this… could it?

Actually, all non-living things can and regularly do decrease in entropy in the same way as this living tree has done. A grain of sand can be pushed up a sand dune by the wind, a puddle of water can be evaporated and rise far above the Earth’s surface and a pebble can be washed from the ocean up onto the shore.

All of these non-living things increase in potential energy and decrease in entropy just as living things so often do. So there is nothing at all special about life’s apparent decreasing entropy. Of course, though, it is just apparent, because though they may individually decrease in entropy, there will always be something that had to increase in entropy to allow the decrease – just like our archer’s muscles had to increase in entropy to allow a decrease in entropy of the bow.

Remember, the confusion arises only when we try to consider things individually – when, of course, they do not exist individually. All things are in a constant transaction of energy and matter with their environment. Unless we place the tree alone in deep, deep, deep space, we cannot think of it (nor anything else on Earth) as an isolated system, and instead need to consider it an ‘open system’, over which the second law of thermodynamics does not reign.

If we place the tree or anything at all in isolation from energy and matter transaction, it will, without exception, increase in entropy.

Whenever we see a decrease in local entropy on Earth, there is always an increase in entropy somewhere which sums to an overall increase in entropy. Further, this increase in entropy can, in almost all cases, be traced back to the Sun which, through nuclear fusion, is slowly decreasing in potential energy, increasing in entropy, and passing energy to the Earth (mostly) in the form of photons. These photons can then evaporate puddles, create convection currents in the atmosphere and provide energy to plants – each of which constitutes a local decrease in entropy.

Energy from the sun and thermal raditaion from the still-warm crust were likely to have been the energy sources that funded the very first, simple, self-replicating chemical reaction; decreasing the local entropy (breaking or forming chemical bonds) and allowing life to be born of non-life.

The beginnings of life resembled in some way a few simple chemical reactions, no different to the simple chemical reactions that organic chemists study today in their contribution of the universal increase of entropy.

Summary

Every day we see ourselves, animals and plants grow in size and complexity, we see large buildings raised around us and cities formed from the simple materials of the Earth. This evidence naturally causes us to question whether life is subject to the degradation under which other matter seems to succumb.

The mistake that we make in believing that life (or a grain of sand being blown up a dune) is causing a decrease in entropy of the universe is our neglect of the surrounding environment which gives energy to the creature and allows it to run up a hill, lift a stone to build a house, grow more muscle cells, or produce offspring.

If we are confused by the apparent decrease in entropy as a skyscraper is being built, then we should also be confused when we see a leaf being up into the air. The leaf decreases in entropy, but of course this is balanced – or rather overbalanced, by the increase in entropy of the sun which caused the wind which provided the energy to lift the leaf into the air. The second law of thermodynamics only applies to systems which are isolated from energy and matter transfer, so we can’t consider the leaf and ignore its energy sources.

And remember, to avoid confusion, we would do well to think of increasing entropy as decreasing potential energy, or intuitively as a measure of the ‘settledness’ of a system.

Everything settles over time. This constant march towards equilibrium won’t stop as long the universe exists; it’s what happens when you’ve got a few particles with some laws of interaction and a time dimension.

I said at the start of this piece that I can’t forgive Charles Creager Jr. for his follies.

Actually, I can.

The idea that we’re no more important to the universe than water and dirt could, I imagine, be worst than death for some. Indeed, Mr. Creager Jr. probably has the prospect of an exciting afterlife which relies on him being more than just a material entity. I can’t imagine having such a large investment in an idea – an infinite afterlife of bliss is worth defending until every last bastion has crumbled.

So, keep fighting Mr. Creager Jr. At least you’re keeping scientists hungry for the morsels which every day are fill the gaps in our knowledge of the universe.

For the rest of us, I hope we can exist contentedly as we are; intriguing culminations of billions of years of physics. I hope we can be happy and even excited in the knowledge that our incredible existence is owed to no forces other than those which we share with the rivers and mountains, the planets, the stars and the galaxies.

Fine-tuned Universe Fallacy

Imagine we have in a sealed chamber a species of sentient bacteria who can only survive when the temperature is very close to 30 °C .

We set the initial temperature of the chamber to 0 °C and begin heating it very slowly. Every now and then we add a bacterium to the chamber, and of course one after one, they die – that is, until the temperature comes very near 30 °C. Then the bacteria survives and replicates.

Being sentient and quite intelligent it eventually works out that its environment is perfectly suited to its survival. It realises that if the temperature were 1 degree above or below its current level, it wouldn’t survive. It can’t understand how its environment is so perfect for its survival. A few generations later, the temperature is too high and the bacteria die off.

Given all they knew about their little ‘universe’ while they were alive, could the bacteria have correctly supposed that their environment was too unlikely to have occurred by chance?

No, and here’s why: The bacteria didn’t have access to information about the temperature control system. They had no way of knowing what caused the temperature change nor could they know how it was going to change in the future. The cause of the change in their chamber’s temperature was independent of everything inside the chamber.

Of course, we knew, since we set up the temperature control system, that the perfect temperature was inevitably to occur.

Now let’s take some humans and put them in a universe, just like the one you’re sitting in now. These humans don’t (and I would even posit, can’t) know the complete time variation of the universal constants. So, just like the bacteria, they have no way of determining whether the current set of constants are impossible, or inevitable, or anywhere in between.

More formally, here’s why you can’t say that the universe’s constants are too fine-tuned to have occurred by chance:

  1. Causes must (eventually) be independent of their results, else we end up with causal loops.
  2. So, the cause of a change in a physical system must have eventually come from ‘outside’ said system.
  3. The bacteria have no information about anything outside of their chamber.
  4. To make conclusions about something that you don’t have any information about is silly. Probabilistic conclusions require evidence. If you don’t have any evidence, you can’t suppose something unlikely or likely.

 

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