Archive for the ‘Transport’ Category

Drive Safe

July 8, 2010

Happy travels!

On a rainy day, helping to cart rice husks and there’s no room in the cabin.  These labourers have come up with a solution so they can ride along and not get wet by making a kind of hammock under the overhang at the back of the truck.  What can go wrong?


Jakarta’s Skating Police

May 22, 2010

I’ve never noticed this, so maybe the concept wasn’t successful or I just haven’t been caught out in rush-hour traffic in the right places to witness it.

In Jakarta they have polisi tidur (‘sleeping policemen’ = speed humps) and the seratus polisi ‘one hundred police’ (they’re the self-appointed traffic controllers who stand at intersections and ask for 100rp in return for helping you turn a corner).  I wonder if the skating police lasted long enough for them to earn a slang name?

Get there Quick by Motorcycle Taxi

May 9, 2010

First time visitors to Jakarta should generally restrict themselves to travelling by taxi if they don’t have a friend to help them get around.  I’ve written about taxis before on this blog.  As an all purpose mode of transport, the taxi is the best, but there are situations which call for alternative means, one of these is the motorcycle taxi, or ‘ojek’.

I usually take an ojek if I need to travel a short distance.  Walking during the daytime causes excessive sweating.  Taxis usually resent giving customers short rides.  I would understand that if I was calling one off a rank, but even the ones you hail from the street don’t like taking short distance fares.  The ojek is ideal for residential back streets.  I try to avoid taking one on the main roads as it can be quite hair-raising and dangerous in heavy traffic, you will also get coated by diesel fumes.  The ojek can also squeeze through traffic jams – while cars are gridlocked, the motorbike can still get through.

The other reason for using ojek is when you’re in a real hurry.  If you really have to get somewhere fast, a taxi isn’t going to do it, especially during rush hour or when it rains.  You will have to accept the additional danger, dirt and discomfort, but if you survive you will have turned a 2 hour trip into 20 minutes.

Finding an ojek is quite easy.  There is generally a designated area at the back exits of major buildings, near pedestrian bridges, neighourhood watch posts and the places where buses tend to stop (notice I didn’t say ‘bus stops’ – buses stop where they feel like stopping).  Just look for a cluster of parked motorbikes.  Sometimes the ojek will find you.  A guy will stand up and raise his finger and you confirm by saying ‘ojek’.  It also works if you can’t spot the ojek rank – just call out ‘ojek!’ and chances are one will come.

One thing to do before you call an ojek is to have an idea of how much it will cost.  It’s best to ask a local person to estimate the likely fare for you.  You will need to do this so you know how much to offer the ojek at the end of the ride.  I’ve found the ojek drivers to be surprisingly honest, so somehow it doesn’t feel right to negotiate the price before the trip.  When I arrive at my destination, I tender the amount I think is right for that distance.  If the ojek looks disappointed then I offer a few thousand rupiah more until we settle on a fair amount.  You will, of course, want to negotiate the price beforehand if you are taking a long distance ride.

Jakarta is the only urban centre in Indonesia where I know they have ojeks.  Places like Yogya and Surabaya still have becaks (pedicabs).  The other place to find ojeks is in the villages.

Ketok Magic

March 14, 2010

The guy in the clip doesn’t look much like the dukun I posted last week (maybe he had a shave after his bath?), but he’s performing a kind of magic.    By the gentle taps you can see him doing on the clip, he is able to beat out the dents in a sheet of metal without disturbing the paintwork.  It works if you just have a dent, not if there’s a scratch or gash, of course.  Still, it’s quite amazing, I recon.  Panel beating while you wait.

This magic is performed throughout Java, perhaps all of Indonesia.  However it originates from Blitar (according to the guy who posted the clip).  So when you’re driving around Java, you will often see a sign ‘ketok magic’.  But if the guy learnt his trade in Blitar, it will say ‘ketok magic Blitar’, so you know it’s the original and (usually) the best.  You mostly find this kind of advertising technique with food – some towns are famous for particular dishes, so the restaurant will make a point of showing that the dish it serves is just like the one from that other town.

So if you’re a panel beater living in the West who wants to make a fortune by learning this skill, you had best buy a ticket to Java.  The only problem is you might never want to leave.

Slow motion car chase on the Jakarta Tollway

March 4, 2010

It crossed my mind that this might have been staged, but they look like real people (not actors) and the scenario is too weird to be fiction.

As you watch, keep in mind that this is happening on a toll road in the biggest city in SE Asia, in the middle of the day.

Pak Win (Mr Winarto) has kindly translated for us:

0:57 – the commentator said that…stubborn driver refused to pull over despite an order from the police to stop. The police would like to check the stuff carried by the car.
2:19 – the lady strongly explained that she is only carrying food supplies in the back of her car…..(…somehow she managed to get into the car and slipped out again- the police made chase again).
2:36 – the commentator said…”other drivers helped the police to stop the car…”
3:30 – the lady said that she was traumatized with policemen….she had an unpleasant previous experience with the police pulling them over.
4:09 – The police explained it’s his job to look after the community…bla…bla…while she kept arguing.
4:35 – The police kept saying that he only did his job and he explained to the guy behind the wheel that he’s got a right to stop any suspicious car …bla…bla… meanwhile the guy listened to the police, the lady shouted at the police that they paid few hundreds thousands Rp previously for a “fine” (that’s surely what she referred to as the unpleasant experience).
4:55 – (here is the interesting part..) The police advised the guy ” …if you feel innocent, you shouldn’t be afraid of the police…”…The guy calmly argued “…as you said, that is the reason why I don’t feel like stopping because I feel innocent…” – BINGO !!!….The police helplessly said that…”you can’t do that, we are not a paranormal (psychic). If you don’t stop to tell us, how we know that you’re clean?”

Who could write a script like that? I guess the policeman stayed calm because he knew that the camera was on him. Indonesians have become more assertive in their dealings with police, although this must surely be the exception – I can’t believe their behaviours are typical.

The clip doesn’t say whether she was let off or if she had to pay a few hundred thousand rp more in ‘fines’.

Parking in Jakarta

March 3, 2010

Considering it’s the biggest city in SE Asia, I’ve seldom had trouble finding a parking space in Jakarta.  That’s largely thanks to guys like Hassan, the ‘tukang parkir’. Anywhere you can park a car, you will find them, or rather – they will find you.  Except in the quiet residential streets. 

If there is the slightest possibility of being able to park near the place you want, they will find it for you, help guide your car into the parking spot and even stop the flow of traffic (if necessary) so you can drive out.  You get all that service, plus an hour or so’s parking, for 2,000rp – far less than you’d pay for a metered spot in your own country. And this is in the centre of Jakarta!

If the regular parking bays are all full, they will help you to double-park your car. However, you have to be willing to leave it in neutral with the brake off so they can move your car to let out the one you’re blocking.

You will also find this service in the multi-level car parks attached to malls and in the fenced-off clusters of rukos (ruko=shop house). Because you pay for the parking at the gate, these guys will guide your car into a space for no charge, although you can choose to tip them if you want (especially if they found you a spot in a crowded car park).

In fact, you will find this service in every town in Java, not just Jakarta.  It’s just that the ones in Jakarta are particularly creative in finding you a spot. Without these guys, parking would be about as difficult as in London.

Looking at the clip, I’m not sure about the meaning of all that sign language in the first half. Towards the end (0:45), you can see Hasssan demonstrating his skills. Notice that he has the cars triple parked and he’s managing the motor bikes too.

I would be interested to know how these self-appointed parking attendants gain posession of the right to work their little patch of street.

Bemo transport in Kupang 3

March 2, 2010

View from inside

Originally uploaded by about indo

Inexperienced driver, poor visibility. What could possibly go wrong?
Picture taken from an article from Inside Indonesia:

Bemo transport in Kupang 2

March 2, 2010

Jesus inside

Originally uploaded by about indo

The stickers are also on the sides and back. Be careful not to run into the back of this bemo, Jesus won’t be happy if he gets whiplash injuries.
Those who say Indonesia is a Muslim country clearly don’t know the full picture.

Picture taken from an article in Inside Indonesia:

Bemo transport in Kupang 1

March 2, 2010

Bemo 1

Originally uploaded by about indo

The journal Inside Indonesia has a photo essay on bemos (privately owned mini busses) in Kupang, West Timor.
Main points from the essay are that the windscreens of the bemos are covered with stickers to attract passengers at the expense of visibility. It seems that passengers select their rides on the basis of how well decorated the bemo, how young and sexy the driver (over 20 is over the hill) and how loud the music.
The article was a bit ambiguous about who actually pays for the stickers. Apart from that, an interesting feature about a remote island.

Motorbike in Yogya

February 27, 2010

The availability of cheap Chinese motorbikes has caused big changes in transportation over the past decade.  Bikes are on the streets everywhere you go, filling up the spaces between cars. They don’t mind squeezing between trucks and busses too, sometimes with tragic results (they don’t often realise the drivers of heavy vehicles sometimes can’t see them). They will overtake you while you’re trying to turn, pull up directly behind you just when you’re about to reverse. It can be a little unsettling at times to hear the noise of a motorbike, which we in the West have learnt to beware of, until we remember where we are, and that an Indonesian bike rider is unlikely to be a violent person. Having said that, there are plenty of snatch and grab crimes done by bikers with pillion passengers.

The clip gives a pretty good idea of traffic conditions in a quiet rural town (in this case a very famous one). Notice the becak (bicycle rickshaw) and at the end how the streets narrow as he reaches home. Many people live in houses which cannot be reached by car.  Other points of interest are:
1:50 – when he stops at the lights, a becak driver dismounts and pushes his becak across then hops on again and rides on.

3:00 – there are cement blocks to separate the traffic and stop drivers from turning right or making u-turns.  These obstacles often cause you to drive a long way out of your way to get to a place which is just across the road from you.

4:25 – you can see what looks like tents along the road. These are warungs, small streetside restaurants. Some of the best food in Indonesia is served in certain warungs.