Complete Information on Indonesia

Archive for August, 2013

The best taxi color might be blue

Taxi has always been chosen as the most comfortable public transportation, other than the bullet train like in Japan or Tram in England.
It’s a car, it’s relatively cheap, it feels somewhat luxurious, and it’s convenient.

We also have taxi in Indonesia. In fact, there are many brands of taxis. A developing country with 250 million people with no taxi is ridiculous.
But out of so many brands of taxis, do you know which one to choose?
Because there are other things to be considered beside the service and the fare, such as the argometer and the safety. (Your safety and your wallet safety)

There are two brands that I will talk about here because these two, Blue Bird and Express, are the safest ones with the best service. Take these two brands if you are choosing to go with a taxi. Other than these, take your own risk. Besides, most drivers of these two brands are able to speak English a little.

For Blue Bird, opening the door and confirming that you are riding the taxi will cost you IDR 6.000 ($ US 0,6), going for 1 km costs IDR 3.000 ($ US 0,3), and if you want them to wait, it will cost you IDR 30.000 ($ US 3) per hour.

Now, the service. You can call them 24/7 to go to a designated place. Their service areas are Jakarta, Bali, Bandung, Banten, Batam, Lombok, Medan, Manado, Palembang, Padang, Pekanbaru, Semarang, Surabaya, Yogyakarta, and they are still expanding. Their AC is always on and they always use the argometer. They also have services for logistic transportation or mass transportation.

For Express, they used to have cheaper fare than the Blue Bird but now they have the same fare.

For all the good things, there must also be bad things. You have to know that there are some ‘naughty’ taxis. When you get in, they don’t want to use the argometer but a specific price.
You must reject this and ask to use the argometer whenever possible because there is a high chance that you are getting a marked-up price.
You actually only need to spend, say, IDR 50.000 ($ US 5) but you are offered the marked-up price like IDR 100.000 ($ US 10).
Tourists and expatriates are the most targeted people since they don’t know the real distance.

Furthermore, some of the ‘naughty’ taxis which use their argometer might have it tampered. For example, from the actual IDR 50.000 ($ US 5) can go to IDR 75.000 ($ US 7,5).
Even if it’s not tampered, they might choose the longer route just to have higher fare.

For your wallet safety, the wallet is safe but the inside is not always safe.
When you have arrived at your destination and you want to pay, the taxi driver does not always have a change.
For example, the argometer shows IDR 87.900 ($ US 8,8). Then, since you just changed your currency to IDR (Indonesian Rupiah), you only have IDR 50.000 ($ US 5) and IDR 100.000 ($ US 10).
So, you will need to give the driver IDR 100.000 ($ US 10), and the change will be IDR 12.100 ($ US 1,2).
Nowadays in Indonesia, IDR 100 ($ US 0,01) is not used anymore so you can omit it and think of it as giving money to charity.
That leaves you with the IDR 12.000 ($ US 1,2). But as I said before, lying or not, they don’t always have the change. Even if they do have, it will not make up to the IDR 12.000 ($ US 1,2)
I know this is frustrating but just offer them to keep the change.

There is no better solution to this than having a local friend who, of course, is the most familiar of getting around in his or her own country.

(See this video below about the Blue Bird taxi)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

Keep your sympathy in your wallet

You are probably wondering how to keep sympathy, an abstract form, in a wallet.
Well, what I am talking about is not the abstract form, but the materialized form of sympathy, which is money.

It is the same anywhere in the world, including Indonesia. Wherever you go, you will see a beggar. They are so badly and pathetically dressed that they attract your sympathy, which ultimately leading you to giving them money.

Well, unless you feel really moved or touched, you shouldn’t do it anymore. Because in fact, you are not helping them at all.
Whenever you see a beggar, any type of beggar, you must not fall for their trap.
They are all trained to be a beggar who can really attract your sympathy, move your heart, and make you move your money from your wallet to theirs.
If they say that they haven’t been eating for 1 day or two days, or that they need money to buy milk for their child, they are all nothing but a blatant lie.
They only say that to attract your sympathy or even empathy.

Behind them, there is a big organized organization that is running the scam. They send all the beggars to look for money while they are sitting on a comfy chair counting their money.
The beggars, along with the children, are given something to eat daily before they are sent out to scam people.
The money they get will be given to their boss, and the amount might determine the food they get for the day or for the day after.

What is worse and disheartening is that the children they bring turned out to be under the effect of drugs, such as heroine in a small amount.
That’s why most of the time the children are sleeping. Well, either they are sleeping or getting ‘high’ and passed out.

What a crazy life, isn’t it? I am sure you won’t look at those beggars the same way anymore.
But it is never a bad thing to put aside a few coins for them. Besides, you are blessed by them when you give money to them.

(See this video below to see them)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

Shoot the police to get your driving license!

It is a definite for all countries to make their citizens pass a driving test when they want to get a driving license.
For most people, especially men, driving a car or motorcycle is relatively easy. By practicing alone or taught by our parents, we can drive well suddenly.

But for some people especially women, driving can be pretty hard and intimidating, both for the driver and for other people on the street.
FORTUNATELY, people who can’t drive will not pass the driving test.
Why I said ‘fortunately’? Because if people who can’t drive well are given driving licenses, imagine the serious accidents that could happen anytime on the street.

UNFORTUNATELY, the Indonesian people are different. No matter how bad you are at driving, or even if you can’t drive at all, you can still have a driving license.
You can do this simply by shooting the police. Not with a gun, of course, but with money. Yes, I am talking about bribery.

For the usual and normal way, you have to prepare some money and documents such as ID card, a letter that states you are a good citizen, a letter that states you are behaving well, and of course, good eyesight.

Then, you will have to pass the theory test and the practical test.
Sounds easy? No, it’s not. Sometimes, the institution does not want you to pass the driving test which will result in you paying again and again to sign up for the test.
That’s not even the worst. Even when you are already bribing them, they can still get you failed with any kinds of reasons and ask for more money to solve the problem.

Bribery is the only way to get around this. You can easily avoid this without a hassle by bribing the institution.
The price range varies from the cheapest IDR 100.000 ( US $10 ) to IDR 1.000.000 ( US $100 ). Usually, the driving license for motorcycles is cheaper than for the car.
For those who are under or over the legal age for driving, they must pay higher. The legal age for having a driving license in Indonesia is 17 years old.
There is no exact rule of the maximum age for driving legally, but I mention this because even a 70-year old man can still pass the driving test.
So, don’t be surprised to know that most of the public transportation drivers like Bajaj, Ojek, and mini bus do not get their driver license legally.

Bribery is a pretty nasty thing, isn’t it?
No wonder that the car and motorcycle accident rate is high in Indonesia.
No wonder also that some of the drivers are practically under 17 years old or even as young as 9 years old.

(See this video below about a kid riding a motorcycle)

(See this video too to see a bad parenting goes fast and furious)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

Parking in Indonesia? Anyone can do it

Parking has always been an issue in all countries. Well, perhaps not Venice unless you consider parking a gondola or boat is parking at all.
One of the issues is the amount of parking space available which is never enough. The other issue is from the drivers themselves.
Sometimes, most of them are not too good at parking at all, especially when they have to do parallel parking.
Then, the only thing left to do is to buy a parking sensor. But it is expensive, isn’t it?

It is no different from Indonesia, and it is even worse because not all drivers pass the driving test officially or ‘honestly’. I will tell more about this in the upcoming posts later.

BUT in Indonesia, no matter how bad the driver is, they can always park easily.
How do they do that? Well, they don’t. They are helped by a ‘parker’ or ‘parking clerk’.

Basically, they are just ordinary people with no special driving skill. I am even sure that most of them cannot drive at all.
However, they do understand how to help you parking your car or motorcycle by giving you guidance or direction of where to move your car, such as to the left or to the right.
They are easily recognized by their bright orange-colored clothes and their whistles, but some of them only wear normal clothes and bring no whistle.

When you want to leave and you don’t see any parker or parking clerk around, don’t worry.
Just start your car and move your car out a little, then in a matter of seconds, a parker or parking clerk will come and guide you.
Then, you only have to pay IDR 1.000 or 2.000 (0,1 or 0,2 US Dollar)
That’s the uniqueness of Indonesia. Convenient, isn’t it?

One thing you have to remember about parking in Indonesia is that you can not ask your friend or acquaintance to book a parking space for you.
For example, you have a friend who arrives earlier than you at a Mall or restaurant, then you ask your friend to keep the parking space for you.
You can’t do that because your friend will get beaten up by other angry driver who could have the parking space.

So, whether you want to park on the street or at a restaurant or cafe, don’t worry and just relax.

(See this video below to see the parker’s or parking clerk’s daily life)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

Metric system in Indonesia

In most countries all over the world, the people use the same metric system.
For example, when you want to buy a gallon of water, you buy it by saying the liter.
Or, when you are measuring something, you use inch rather than centimeter.
Or maybe, when you are on the road, you see miles rather than kilometers.

BUT, do you know that Indonesian people use a different metric system?
When they are measuring something, they use centimeters rather than inches, so most of Indonesian people are confused when they buy a TV because TV use inches.
Indonesian people don’t drink tap water (You can see why in this post). So, they drink from a gallon of water. They don’t say they want to buy 10 liters of water, they just say a gallon or 2 gallons of water instead.
When a mother goes to the market and want to buy groceries, she doesn’t use pounds or ounces, but grams and kilograms.
When you ask for direction to somewhere, they don’t answer with feet but with meters. Moreover, many Indonesian people seem to not really understand how to use this metric system.
Most of them always mistake 1 ounce for 1 kilograms, which actually 1 ounce is 0,1 kilograms.

So, be careful with this metric system when you are doing business with the Indonesian people.

(See this video about buying groceries at the market)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

Indonesia, a country full of free music

In the European countries like Venice, Italy, Florence, Germany, Netherland, and Vienna, you can always hear a sweet musical tune anywhere.
There is always a musician or bard here and there, trying to entertain the crowd while hoping for a few cents.
Well, they are worth the cents because they do play the music beautifully and very entertaining.

In Indonesia, we also have those kind of things which, of course, are not entirely the same.
The first difference would be the place. They are not just playing on the street, but also in the public transportation and cafe.
But here, there are too many bards. So what do they do if their market share is so little?
That’s easy. Although it is not enough, they simply divide the area. So, don’t be surprised if you meet two or three groups of bards in one public transportation.

The second difference is the method. While bards in other countries use a more polite method, Indonesian bards choose to use a forceful method.
If there is one same thing about Indonesian bards, it is their forceful method. Wearing punk clothes, earrings, and tattoo, they politely apologize for disturbing your peace.
Then, after they finish playing, they ask money directly by opening their hand to you, often in an intimidating and forceful way.

The last difference is, sadly, their voice. Seriously, from the first time I meet a bard until this post is published, I have never met even one bard with a decent and not-too-damaging voice. No wonder that they have to use the intimidating method. They must have realized that their voice are not good enough to be paid even for a cent.

(See this video about them)

It is quite sad to see those children who are supposed to have a bright future but end up becoming bards, right?
Well, save your money and sympathy because what they get is not actually what they earn, and since it is dangerous to meet these bards, especially for tourists, I would suggest renting a car and hiring a driver.
I’ll tell more about these in the upcoming posts later.

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

‘Catching cold’, the most common disease in Indonesia

Some countries have an endemic disease unique to them, like Chikungunya disease in Africa or Malaria disease in tropical region.

There’s also an endemic disease in Indonesia. It is called ‘catching cold’ or ‘masuk angin’.
This disease is believed to be a myth because it is no officially acknowledged as a disease. Nevertheless, it is the most common disease in Indonesia.

The causes and symptoms are similar to Influenza.
It is caused by excessive cold air. For example, spending too much time in an air-conditioned room, going through the rain without an umbrella or rain jacket, riding a motorcycle without a jacket, or too exhausted.
The symptoms are dizziness, fever, cold or flu, sleepy, flatulence, get tired easily, nausea, and vomiting. Surprisingly, it is also similar to the symptoms experienced by pregnant women, right?

So, what to do when you got ‘enter wind’ or ‘masuk angin’?
There are many things to do but basically there are three methods that are most used.

When you feel like you have one of the symptoms, just drink one of these.

Tolak Angin

Tolak Angin

‘Tolak Angin’ is an herbal medicine wrapped in sachets. It is cheap, practical, and work fast. It is easy to find this because it is sold in every pharmacy or drugstore and even cigarette stall spread out in Indonesia.

However, if it does not work well, you can try a traditional and unique massage that is very cheap and easy.

The massage or kerok can be done by using a small coin or cent and eucalyptus oil or ‘minyak kayu putih’. Then your back will be scraped with a little pressure and leaves a red effect like in the picture. Don’t worry because it is not dangerous. Though, you must not drink the eucalyptus oil. If you don’t have the oil, you can use a balm or ointment

A little true and funny story about this is when a foreigner goes to a swimming pool. He sees an Indonesian man in his trunk, swimming with many visible red lines on his back. The foreigner comes to him and asks if those red lines are caused by domestic violence. He also offers to call a police if needed. Then, the man explains the red lines is caused by the massage and that there’s no need to call a police at all.

The last method is taking a rest. Seriously, resting cures anything. Nevertheless, if worse comes to worst, come see a doctor.

(See this video below to see the massage)

(Credits go respectfully to the rightful owner)

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