Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Beep Beep!

Macet (maw-chet) : Bahasa Indonesia word for traffic

While trying to grade papers this afternoon (mostly in an attempt to stay awake before working out), I heard the infamous BEEP BEEP sound outside my window. I tried to tune it out but not even Lionel Richie could distract me. I peeked out my window and this is what I saw..

Traffic backed up for miles!

No system whatsoever

 This was last week:

This is nothing compared to tonight

Not sure why one direction was worse than the other

Vehicles of all sizes just trying to get by

Yes, those are pedestrians. And yes, this is very common.

I sat in the cab for entirely way too long. The cab driver actually made me get out in walk. These photos were taken after I got inside my apartment. With this kind of traffic, many locals see it as an opportunity to make some spare change. They will literally stand in the middle of all this chaos and with their scrawny bodies, wave at incoming traffic and stop the others. If drivers are feeling the spirit, they will give these unofficial-sometimes-12-years-old traffic directors 500 Rp (approximately 5 cents).

This kind of traffic is really common throughout the day in Jakarta (except early mornings). Sometimes you can sit in stand-still traffic for up to 2 hours, even if you are just miles away from home. Many people call it organized chaos. There is really no traffic light system here. Some busy intersections have it but the government (at least I think) has basically given up on installing them because nobody follows the rules anyway. People run red lights constantly and honk the second the light turns green. Stop signs are non-existent and so are police officers looking to catch the reckless drivers. The only time I've ever really seen a car pulled over by a police officer is on the Interstate for driving on the shoulder (which so many people do anyway as long as there are no "polisi" in sight). Also, cops will pull people over if the passengers in the front seat (only) are not wearing seatbelts. Have no fear however. Often times you can merely talk/bargain your way out of a ticket and pay the officer a personal fine of 200,000 Rp ($20) that they pocket and then everybody basically agrees the confrontation never happened.

Mt Merapi update coming soon!

xoxo amber

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