If you listen to the stories about Jakarta the most common thing you will hear about is MACET, in fact it’s almost the first word of bahasa that we learned. This means “traffic” and the city is notorious for its constant traffic jams. It’s not only a central topic of conversation, it’s also a great excuse to be late for everything (“Sorry there was just so much macet !”).
The other thing you will hear about is pollution and when you are standing on the side of the road you can see it waft around the air as the bajajs (3 wheeled took tooks), Kopajaks and Metro Minis (otherwise known as public transport buses) gush out black clouds of poisonous smoke into the faces of the motorbike riders (who don’t flinch when the black cloud envelopes them).
But what you don’t hear about is the pure joy of living in a mad Indonesian city where everything is possible. Where people call out “hello mister” (the only 2 words of English that most people know!), where you can eat cheap and delicious food on the side of the road or go to the tastiest restaurants with beautiful décor and smiling staff. It’s a city where you never need to feel lonely; everyone wants to have a chat, and while the conversations are often the same (are you married? How old are you? Have you already eaten? Have you showered?) they are also in the spirit of excitement at practicing English, of meeting a bule (anyone with ‘white’ skin is known as a bule), of wanting you to enjoy your time and experience the great things that Indonesia has to offer.
We have been living in the city for over a year now, and have only explored the smallest corners and we are always discovering new things. We decided to start the blog to show everyone what a great city Jakarta is. Outside of its reputation, away from any ideas of terrorists or the Western (unjustified) fear of Islam, we have found a kind of paradise here. And we wanted to give you a glimpse of our lives and of the people who shape the city. Jakarta heaves under the pressure of millions of people congregating in this ever-growing city. They come from all over Indonesian but they know where they are from. It is a city of the greatest wealth and the saddest poverty. In Jakarta you can see the history of Indonesia glaring at you; coming out of 300 years of Dutch colonialism which left the people uneducated and impoverished; which paved the way for an obscene amount of corruption.
And here we are. And as the tshirts say “Damn I love Indonesia”. So many stories to share. And this is just the beginning.