As promised , the following post is devoted to basic Indonesian vocabulary that will be of great use for you if you want to explore West Papua on your own without a guide (the guide could cost you up to 500EUR for 4 days only)  and go trekking to villages of Baliem Valley. Bahasa Indonesia is really one of the easiest Asian languages. There are no declinations, it sounds very simple as if  there was no grammar at all, and the pronunciation shouldn’t be a problem if you know a little bit of Spanish (for us, Polish people – it’s also very easy).

The minimum (about 50 words) you need to know which are the most frequent words that we used during our little ‘expedition’ were:

1.Pagi – Good morning  & Sore – Good afternoon/evening

2.Trimakasi – Thank you

3.Tidak – No

4.Ini apa? – What’s this?

5.Berapa? –How much? How much does it cost?

6.Ada buah/sayur/air panas? – Do you have/are there any fruit, vegetables, hot water?

7.Bagaimana jauh ke Hitugi/Yogosem? Satu/dua/tiga jam? – How far (is it) to Hitugi/Yogosem? 1/2/3 hours?

8.Bisa tidur dan makan disini? Ada kamar? – Is it possible/can we sleep and eat here? Is there/do you have a room?

9.Kami mau tidur dan makan disini. Berapa: tidur, makan malam dan makan pagi? – We want to sleep and eat here. How much is accommodation (literally:’sleeping’), dinner and breakfast?

10.Dari mana? – a frequent question addressed to us: Where are you from? The answer: (Kami) dari Polandia. (From Poland/ *you will find a list of more countries further in this post)

11.Kami mau (jalan kaki) ke Hitugi? Kiri? Kanan? Lurus? – We want ( to go by walk) to Hitugi. Left? Right? Straight ahead?

12.Besok kami mau makan pagi 6 jam. – Tomorrow we want breakfast at 6:00.

13.Kami mau kembali disini. – We want to come back here.

14.Di mana angkot ke Kurima – Where (is) the minibus to Kurima?

15.sepuluh ribu – 10.000IDR (this is how much we paid for the first minibus from Kurima, the same amount was a tip to a man from the Dani tribe for taking a photo with him), dua puluh ribu – 20.000IDR (the cost of the second minibus to Kurima)

16.Bagus – great, enak – delicious, besar – big, kecil – small, murah –cheap

17.Saya tidak mengerti – I don’t understand / Aku tahu -I know

How to pronounce Indonesian words?

If you know a little bit of Spanish, the pronunciation will not be that hard for you. Just bear in mind the following rules:

1) the vowels : ‘u’, ‘a’, ‘e’, ‘i’, ‘o’ should be pronounced the Spanish way so respectively: [u:], [a], [e], [i:], [o]; the vowel ‘y’ should be pronounced as [ɪ] e.g. saya [saia] = I/me

2) letter ‘g’ – always [g], e.g. ‘bagus’ [bagu:s] = great

3)letter ‘j’ [dʒ] – e.g. ‘jalan’ should be read [dʒalan] = street

4)letter ‘w’ [w]; e.g. ‘Wamena’ read [wamena] (the same pronunciation as in English)

5)letter ‘c’  [tʃ] (always read the same way); e.g. ‘kecil’ read [ketʃil]= small

6)leller ‘h’ should be read normally, there’s only one exception – when it stands at the end of a word we don’t pronounce it, e.g. the word ‘murah’ should be read [mu:ra:]= cheap

Below you will find a general list of words and expressions/phrases, that we used in the villages, but remember that the vocabulary mentioned above should be enough for a basic communication. If you want to get to know local people closer and get some information related to their culture, ask them some questions regarding their everyday life, the number of people in the village, the number of children going to school, regarding their profession, their families, the age of their children, you can use the vocabulary indicated below 🙂

Saya – I/me Kita (including a person we speak to)/Kami (excluding a person we speak to) -we
Kamu – you+ Anda – Sir/Madame Kalian – you (plural)
Dia – he, she                                  Mereka – they

Selamat pagi – Good morning, they say very often ‘’pagi’’ only

Selamat siang/sore – Good afternoon, saying only ‘‘siang/sore’’

Selamat malam – Good evening/night, saying only ‘’malam’’

Apa kabar? (How are you?) – Kabar baik (I’m fine)

Terima kasih (read: [tri:ma:ka:si:] – Thank you) – Sama Sama(You’re welcome)

Ya – yes =/= tidak – no

Saya dari Polandia – I’m from Poland (literally: ‘Me from Poland’); other countries: Ingrris Raya – Great Britain, Amerika Serikat – USA, Spanyol – Spain, Italia – Italy, Perancis – France, Jerman – Germany, Rusia – Russia



Kiri – left =/= kanan (right)

Lurus – straight ahead

Dekat – near =/= jau – far

Kembali – to come back


Belok – to turn

Berhenti disini – stop here!

Dari (from) =/= ke (to)

Jalan kaki – go on foot

Saya mau ke Hitugi – I want(to go/get) to Hitugi. Berapa jauh dari Wamena? – How far (is it) from Wamena?

NUMBERS (it’s worth knowing at least some basic ones)

1 – satu

2 – dua

3 – tiga

4 – empat

5 – lima

6 – enam

7 – tujuh

8 – delapan

9- sembilan

10 – sepuluh

11- seblas

12 – dua belas

13- tiga belas

20 – dua puluh

100 – seratus

200 – dua ratus

1000 – seribu

10000 – sepuluh ribu

1mln – satu juta


Harga – price

Berapa (harganya)? – How much (is it)?

Mahal – expensive=/=murah (cheap)

(Mem)beli – to buy

Uang – money

Membayar -to pay

Di mana bisa membeli buah?
– Where is it possible/can we buy some furit?

Bisa membeli buah? – Possible to buy some fruit?

Ada buah? – are there/do you have (any) fruit? (literally: ‘is fruit?’)

TIME/WHEN:                                                       ADJECTVES (opposites):

hari ini – today

kemarin –  yesterday

besok – tomorrow

malam – night

2 hari – 2 days

kemudian – later

dini (early) =/= terlambat

terdahulu – earlier/before

satu jam – 1 hour

berapa jam? – what time is it?

Kapan? – when?

Bagaimana? – how?

Baik (good, fine, OK) =/= buruk

Miskin (poor) =/= kaya

Sedih (sad) =/= senang

Lambat (slow) =/=cepat

Cantik (beautiful) =/= jelek

Dingin (cold) =/= panas

Sulit (difficult) =/= mudah

Alam (natural) =/= buatan (artificial)

Ramah (friendly) =/= tidak ramah

Berat ( heavy) =/= ringan

Besar (big) =/= kecil

Berbahaya (dangerous) =/= selamat

TIDUR – sleep

MAKAN – food, to eat  +   MINUM – something to drink, to drink:

Sendok – spoon

Piring – plate

Gelas –glass


Makan pagi – breakfast

Makan siang – lunch

Makan malam – dinner

Saya mau makan/ minum – I want to eat/drink

Air putih – mineral water

Air panas – hot water

Susu – milk

Kopi – coffee

Teh – tea

Nasi – rise

Mie –pasta/noodles

Ikan – fish

Babi – pig

Ketang manis – sweet potatoes

Manggi – mango

Jagung – corn

Buah – fruit

Sayur –vegetavles

Tidak apa apa! – no problem!

Bagus! – great!

Hati-hati! – be careful!

Tolong! – help!

Maaf – I’m sorry!

Maaf sakali! – I’m really sorry!

Permisi Pak – Excuse me, Sir

Saya jujur – I’m honest (literally: Me honest)

Selamat jalan! – (Have a) Safe journey!

Buka – open =/=tutup

Bisa..? – Can I/we..? Is it possible..?

Ini apa? – what’s this?

Kalian tinggal disini?- (Do )you live here?

Saya tidak tinggal disini – I don’t live here

Enak – delicious

Saya suka pedas – I like spicy.

Places:                                                                People:

Sekolah – school

Rumah – house

Rumah sakit – hospital

Kamar kecil – toilet

Toko – shop

Kantor – office

Pasar – bazaar, market

Kota – city

Desa – village

Bandara –airport

Gereja – church

Hutan – forest

Taman – garden

Danau – lake

Gunung – mountain

Air terjun – waterfall

Pulau – island

Sungai  – river

Samudra – ocean

Laut – sea

Rimba -jungle

Orang – human being, people

Pria – man

Wanita -woman

Anak – child

Anak laki-laki / anak perempuan – son/ daughter

Suami / istri – husband/wife

Ibu / ayah – mother/father

Keluarga – family

Guru bahasa inggris – teacher of English

Bankir – banker/bank teller

Dokter – doctor

Koki – cook

Petani – farmer

Suku – tribe

Wisatawan – traveler

Turis – tourist

Saya suka orang ini. – I like these people.

Berapa orang tinggal disini? – How many people live here?

Berapa anak tinggal disini? – How many children live here?

Berapa(kah)umur anda? – How old are you?

Berapa(kah) umur dia? – How old is he/she?

We hope that you find this post useful. If I learned these words in 4 days spending a few hours a day studying them, I assume that you will be able to prepare yourselves even better for this experience planning your journey well in advance. We suggest writing down some notes in a notebook as you will always be able to have a look there when socializing with local people. Don’t count that storing this information on your mobile will be enough as you will not be able to charge your mobile in case it goes dead  (unless you carry powerbanks with you:)). Good luck!

2 Replies to “Indonesian words which will help you communicate in the villages of West Papua”

    1. Wspaniale! To była dotychczas nasza największa podróżnicza przygoda spotkać się z Papuasami i móc zamienić z nimi chociażby kilka zdań 😀 Powodzenia w nauce i w podróży! Czekamy na relację 🙂

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