Thursday, April 12, 2012

Bajays in Jakarta
Took a side trip to Java - found myself alone on the crowded streets of Jakarta.  Eka was catching his morning 3 hours of sleep somewhere after staying up all night again...  I decided to just walk the neighborhood from my hotel the Arion Swiss-Belhotel Kemang Jakarta.  Hotel was nice - about $100 USD a night; King Bed, TV with western channels, air cond, internet on a cable, shower with sort of hot water, nice breakfast buffet with everything Western and Indonesian.  I wish I'd been lively enough to check out the pool - looks nice in the brochure up on the roof I think...
I was told the neighborhood is safe and I could walk to 'things'...  So I set out - the streets are not very inviting.  Looks to me like low taxes and few regulations...  First I stepped in a pot-hole and thought I broke my leg but pulled it out with mostly embarrassment and a nice deep gash - save the camera first, right?
 Then I came to a road that no chicken in his right mind would try to cross - after much head turning and soul searching I made a break for it and even earned applause from some guy on a scooter.  Not bad for an old white guy...  It looked much worse when you were there.  The stop action is deceptive I think...  Over 10 million people in Jakarta and it appeared to me that all of them were in traffic every day.  Walking was usually almost as fast.  Glad I missed the Petrol Protests that happened about a week later when a liter of gas went from 4500 to 6000 Rupiah.
I'm not sure but I suspect Walt Disney got the idea for 'Mr. Toad's Wild Ride' cruising around in a Bajay in the crazy streets of Jakarta.  Andy - a new friend and native of Jakarta - told me the original spelling was Badjaj, then changed to Bajaj and finally Bajay as Indonesian was made more phonetic.
 Not much of a view you had to duck down to really see anything, maybe the idea is to just sit back and pray that you arrive in one piece.  One peace?  I didn't see one of these that didn't look like it had been bumped around quite a bit.
 The driver was friendly but I couldn't understand a word of his Indonesian, not that I'm such a great Indonesian speaker, he seemed to understand me but I couldn't understand I word he said to me.  Much smiling and nodding on my part...
Streets of Kemang Jakarta - I was told there are 5 districts in Jakarta.  Kemang being one of the nicer areas but hard to tell from the streets.  Later I found that there were many nice places but the streets were poor window dressing.  The people were friendly and helpful, I wasn't the only white person in town but it might have been hard to get a basketball team together...  They seemed to appreciate my efforts to speak there language and all agreed that I spoke pretty good English...

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