Imagine Jakarta now, in your mind. It’s definitely crazier and more frustrating at times than you’d imagine. It’s also become to me, a fascinating place where I can amuse myself over the idiosyncrasies of Indonesia. It’s become a sprawling hot mess I am starting to learn more about, albeit it from the passengers side of a car. Would I trust myself to drive here? No. Never. Well unlikely. Only by force or emergency. Traffic here is crushed to say the least. From where we live, in a suburb of West Jakarta it’s an almost statutory hour to town if not more. Once when we drove the Taman Safari, we literally didn’t move for over 40 minutes in a queue. Turned out they closed each side of the road alternately to allow the huge backlog move from one side. However for 40 minutes or more, one side is at total gridlock. Not the ideal situation.
To drive here is to accept danger, know many people do not care for the road rules as I do and that red lights just starting are signs to continue right through them for another minute. People here, generally seem to have no fear of danger when it comes to the roads. Huge heavy trucks are everywhere blocking the roads and gradually destroy and create huge chunky potholes. Police intervention has been to pull trucks off the road for an hour when they see them. You also have to learn to deal with the busy bee swarms of motorbikes and scooters full of entire families, babies carried in their mothers arms. Scooters ridden late at night along a long empty road by youth full of courage and bravado, screaming their scooters in dangerous stunts. Scooters which will at every point in your journey irritate you when they weave effortlessly through the traffic whilst you are yet again stuck behind heavy traffic. The only consolation I have had to this irritation is that now it is Monsoon season, I can smugly sit in the car, dry and cool watching giant puddles splash furious motorbikes. The motorbikes are ubiquitous and noisy.
I parked a car here once, once we were in the parking lot. I could deal with that. No crazy roads. It was a much bigger car than my Ford Ka though and I did find it a little harder to handle. Everybody here seems to have an enormous car! Would you believe it, there are even cars with automatic slide open doors. Wow thats pretty flashy. Ha and even more hilarious is that in every parking lot there are signs for ‘ladies parking’! I was wondering the other day what would happen in the UK or the US if a company introduced a ladies only parking spot with larger spaces and closer to the door. I imagine the cause of feminism would react furiously to the suggestion they could not park as well. There would be indignation. Here, it’s convenient and a total non plus!
That reminds me of a time in the Philippines when I was persuaded to drive Darryl’s car back to the house. I met Kerry and Darryl in the Philippines with their two gorgeous kids, Chloe and Keaton. What a wonderful family and I know after all the experiences we have shared including our daring escape from the Philippines, we will remain wonderful friends for a long, long time. It makes me giggle now thinking about the time I drove this car. So basically, it was a rented car that Darryl had hired for the day from a guy at school. We went swimming at this hotel in town (wait for it, Angeles City) and basically Darryl asked me to drive the car back. I was very reluctant. I did not want to drive on the roads of Angeles! However, finally I was persuaded and in the dark of night I drove the car back luckily without accident but with pure trepidation and fear of driving on the crazy roads! I did feel a little daring but will not be repeating this experience again unless as previously said, in emergency!
A true journey every day moving around in Jakarta.