Jakartass in Jakarta 2005
It seems customary at this juncture of the year to review the past twelve months and make all kinds of pledges of goodness for the year ahead. Having completed a calendar year of blogging, a total of 338 posting days, it's probably in order to add my two pennerth of pontification.
Life for resident expats in Jakarta has not improved over the past year. I can't speak for those expats on short-term postings, mainly because I don't know any. The best place to look for such insights is still the Living in Indonesia website
which continues to offer a mass, I hesitate to say 'wealth', of information. An individual perspective is also offered occasionally by a perceptive newcomer from Australia in his blog When in doubt, blame the traffic
Those of us with embedded lives here regularly blame the traffic for the continued stress levels as well as other factors such as the resulting pollution, the continuing and endemic corruption, the blind disregard for personal space, the lack of customer service and the greed of those politicians who have not yet grasped the fact that they are now dependent on the goodwill of an electorate for their continued perks.
Some things are better in Jakarta. A real effort has been made to improve public transport, with the import of second-hand buses from Japan. One route terminates near my office and heads directly across the city to the side road leading to Jakartass Towers and I get a seat with adequate legroom, although dozens have to stand. None of us understand the Japanese script which remains or those pictograms indicating those seats reserved for the lame, pregnant and aged.
Thinking of the lame (synonym: halt) reminds me that new stainless steel bus shelters are being erected everywhere. If we're lucky, or the police continue with their recent drive for greater traffic discipline, buses might actually start to stop at them just as the special Busway air-conditioned ones stop at theirs. More routes are currently being cut across traffic lanes and this augurs well for those of us opting out of the traffic jams.
With the removal of government subsidies and the near doubling of fuel costs
in October, and all praise to SBY for having the courage to effect this, taxi drivers are having a bad time of it, even those who still offer the tarif lama (old rate). In general, it would appear that they are prepared to travel shorter distances than before as any income earned is income otherwise lost. This is quite a seismic shift in their thinking. However, there are still those who haven't changed their mindset, one that, according to Madame Chiang
, is still prevalent in Manila.
Finally, as the year ends in Jakarta I am pleased to report that Bintang beer has not yet risen in price.
So there's still hope for the future.