16 July 2013

Glancing back – Jakarta, Indonesia

Like most major cities around the world, and especially in developing countries, Jakarta is clogged with traffic jams. Probably one of the quickest and safest ways to get around town is with the TransJakarta introduced almost ten years ago, the first of its kind in South-East Asia at the time from what I can read: air-conditioned buses which run on dedicated lanes and which cannot stop elsewhere but at dedicated bus stations. That they only stop at bus stations may sound obvious – to Westerners – but that's probably due the height of the platform passengers are waiting on. The bus doors are about one metre high to – I believe – prevent drivers from picking up passengers along the route, between stops, which is all too common – and actually convenient – with other regular buses and minivans which have their distinct names wherever you go (angkot in Indonesia, combis in Peru, microbus in Mexico, songthaew in Thailand).

As I came out of Jakarta Kota's station, I observed a gathering of bus employees. While I was curious, trying to understand if it were some sort of meeting or training, I quickly noticed all eyes were on me, the only Westerner around... truth be told, Jakarta is not the most interesting city on the planet, very few tourists making a stop there. I smiled and continued my way, passing behind them. Some of the employees couldn't resist glancing back: that's when I managed to capture one of them (with my camera :-).

TransJakarta drivers