Two Weeks in Jakarta

I’ve noted in another article my fears and doubts about Jakarta. Here’s an update after a quick stay in Jakarta:

Do not drink their water.

It comes in every blog – don’t drink it, even those coming from a restaurant. It has to be in a sealed bottle at all times. Somewhere I saw it said to not even brush your teeth with it.

Judgment: Truth.

Locals do not drink anything but bottled water. Or those with labels “mineral water”. But you can brush your teeth with the water from the hotel. It’s with the dingy places you have to watch out for.

Do not eat street food.

Famous for its good food, the warnings of not eating streetfood is such an oxymoron!

Judgment: Unfortunately, truth.

The locals can eat with the street vendors – their stomachs are used to it. We’re not. And I’d rather not test it. They know how to judge which vendor is ok and which is not. We don’t.

Do not bring drugs (duh).

Go ahead. Test this yourself.

Do not take out valuables.

Walk with your bag on the opposite side of the road. Do not wear jewelry.

Judgment: Sensationalized.

The world is a scary place. Even Japan, one of the safest places in the world, have knife wielding activists killing the disabled. So other than the usual care needed, I say it’s basically the same.

Do not use your left hand for anything (eating, giving of business cards)

They say that the left hand is usually used for the dirty stuff (like washing your bum), so using it for other purposes is generally frowned upon.

Judgment: Ideally, true, but they will understand.

You can eat with your left hand (I was left handed). Handing out something ideally should be done with your right hand. We are foreigners so there’s a lot of leeway for us. I used my left hand for practically everything and I didn’t notice anyone staring at me.

Do not ride any taxi but Blue Bird.

Drivers of other taxi feature horror stories – like drunk drivers, schemes, etc.

Judgment: The number of Indonesians warning me not to ride anything else implies this is the truth.

Hey, if anyone and everyone keeps on telling you to do one thing, I won’t be so stupid as to go the other way.

TRAFFIC.

I don’t think I paid much attention to this before.

Judgment: Whatever you’re expecting, it’s worse.

Goodness. It was so bad. At one point, we were stuck for 30 minutes nonmoving – the passengers of the bus in front of us actually got off to stretch their legs and buy from vendors.

Give an allotment of x10 the travel time if traffic is extremely light. Make that x20 if raining. No, this is not an exaggeration. And yes, this is daily. It’s the rule, not the exception.

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