Western people usually greet the people they meet by giving them kisses, and thanks to the technology and globalization, we are used to it. In Indonesia, even though some people have already started to do the greetings by kissing, if you do it in public spaces, you will get a weird and awkward stares from people around you. Some people even will not be happy if you kiss them. So why does this phenomenon happen?
First thing first, it is a cultural thing. As a part of Asia, which has so many cultural habits, Indonesian people usually never kiss people in front of public. When they do, the person they kiss must be a close person for them, either family or a close friend. They are not used to kiss someone as a greeting. Beware of this, because some of them will say you are either rude, or flirtatious.
Instead, they usually do some shake hands, a light pat or hug. For Moslems, they usually give respects to older people by doing ‘sungkem’ or ‘salim’ which is done by leaning your forehead towards someone’s hand so they will brush each other slightly.
Secondly, Indonesian people, similar to most Asian, are quite conservative. They are not used to reveal their feelings towards people. They prefer respects more than closeness. That is why some affections like kissing to greet someone is not too popular in Indonesia.
So, if you want to greet Indonesian people, you have to make sure first whether this person can accept the way you greet him or not. For some several reasons, a neutral way to greet an Indonesian is to do a handshake, to show you respect this person.
(See this video about the governor of Jakarta, Joko Widodo, who is doing ‘sungkem‘ with his mother)
(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)