First thought that popped into my head when we arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia was….”culture shock”.
I know, strange for me to think so considering I was born in Jakarta and lived the first 10 years of my live in Jakarta, Bengkulu and Banjarmasin. That’s three different Indonesian islands I lived in, each with its own dialect and twist on food.
But growing up in the Westernized culture of Canada, it was easy to forget what life was like back in Indonesia. During our trip, I saw things that made me go, “huh?” Only in Indonesia!
I was fast asleep in the car from major jet lag when the car stopped at a railroad track. What hubby saw blew his mind away that he nudged me while at the same time taking the camera out from his cargo pocket, “Astrid, wake up! You’ve gotta see this. Holy shit this is crazy!”
I opened my eyes. Annoyed at having my much needed sleep interrupted, I turned to him and gave him a silent “this better be good” look. And boy was it ever good.
There were people – lots of them – standing and sitting on top of the train. That’s right, not inside but on top. My cousin explained that these people can’t afford to take the train so they jump on the train to catch a free ride. Unbelievable. Only in Indonesia.
The traffic is absolutely insane. It’s 100x worse than Toronto traffic and no one follows the rules of the roads. It was so chaotic that I cringed every time a motorcycle or a car or a bus zoomed past us. And trust me, that happened often. Like every second we were on the road. I thought for sure we’d get into an accident. But the amazing thing is, I did not see even one single accident. Due to the insane traffic, the fastest way to get around is by motorcycle. Everyone rides them – kids, adults, men, women, professionals, maids. If you’re in a motorcycle you can zig zag in between the cars. Again, not something we’re used to seeing in Canada. We might see two or three at a time in the summer but in Indonesia, there were at least 20 of them at any given time. Only in Indonesia.
While visiting my grandma’s brother, we drove by a house. It was an ordinary house except for the monkey that was chained outside of the gate, sitting on a small covered platform. The monkey is used as some sort of alarm. Only in Indonesia.
Since we’re on the topic of monkeys, the cruelest thing we saw were monkeys on the side of the street. Not only were these monkeys on a leash, they had on clothing and a mask. Their owners use these monkeys as a tourist attraction to make money. Similar to what you would see in an all inclusive resort, where locals walk around with a monkey, parrot or snake for tourists to take pictures with. But imagine this – it’s 40 degrees Celsius outside and the monkeys are dressed in a costume of some sort wearing a face mask! Yes, I do have pictures but I’ve decided not to post them due to the wrongness of it. Only in Indonesia.
At the end of our first week, we were off to Manila, Philippines for the weekend to visit friends who just moved there. Then from Manila we went straight to Bali for 5 days, which was too short in my opinion. Only in Bali would you see two monkeys sleeping and cuddling with each other at a restaurant out in the open! No cage, no special room. Just in the restaurant. Only in Indonesia.
Bali is known for its monkeys though, so I guess that’s pretty normal there. When we went to Ulu Watu temple, we saw more monkeys of course. They roamed on the streets just like stray cats. Only in Indonesia.
Ahh, I love reminiscing about our trip to Indonesia. This is why I love traveling. It makes me see how life is like in other parts of the world and how different it is from Canada. What a refreshing way to view the world.