If you didn’t have children you may think that a trip to Pacific Place is just for the ultimate bed cinema or a fancy cocktail at Potato Head or a browse through Aksara books. Kids who have experienced Kidzania think differently. They know that on level 6 of the mall there is a world full of noise and adventure where adults play a minor role and the kids can run free exploring a wide range of jobs on offer.
Kids are given Kidzania dollars and ATM cards to take out more play money and sample, not just the average jobs we are taught about like police men, firemen and doctors but also fashion models, tailors, radio DJs, dentists, scientists, accountants, racing car drivers and marketing executives. Kids line up to try out working in a chocolate factory or tea factory and get to take their tasty treats home with them.
It really has to be seen to be believed as you wander through this giant playground filled with thousands of children and marching bands walking through and kids dressed as policemen chasing robbers while others are flipping burgers.
It is the only place in Indonesia where people stop at pedestrian crossings to let the miniature blue bird taxis get past, where drivers actually stop at red lights and fire engines actually make it to the fire before a house burns down. It is a world where workmen and window cleaners have the best jobs and even get to wear safety gear, where children pump petrol at the mini petrol station and scan groceries at Indomart.
It is a place that could never work in a country like Australia where you have to pay people a decent wage. Here the hundreds of Indonesian staff members patiently explain over and over again the different activities and try and rein in the chaos a little as the over-excited groups of children try and dip their hands in the chocolate or cry because they have no more money in the ATM. They stand in the pumping disco for hours with music blasting teaching kids how to dance.
As the noise and over-excitement got to me and I felt the tiredness creeping in, I thought of the world outside the mall where workmen build roads in their sandals, or climb up scaffolding with no safety measures in place and risk their lives every day, where little kids do pump petrol and people work all year in horrible sweatshops, and the organized chaos of Kidzania seemed to be a mockery of the real chaos outside. The companies who bring their booths to Kidzania get free advertising from plasting their label everywhere, and they all get to pretend to be fair employers where those who work at petrol stations get the same wage as those who work in marketing.
But as the kids ran past me with pure joy on their faces, I realized how much it sucks being an adult where you can’t be lost in the fantasy world anymore, even an entire miniature word of happiness for children. Maybe I was just jealous because I wasn’t allowed to try out any of the games.