By Madura McCormack, JPP 2014
About two minutes after exiting Soekarno-Hatta Airport, you’ll notice that Indonesia has about zero traffic regulations. There are times where I’ve lost track which direction the vehicles were supposed to be going in the first place.
Unlike Australia or Singapore, where road infrastructure exists, Indonesia is the land of potholes, loud honking cars and fleets of motorcycles that travel like migrating geese.
Because of this wonderfully unrehearsed dance of giant metal machines, it is almost impossible to cross any road, side street and alleyway without first checking to make sure your life insurance hasn’t expired.
But once you’ve learnt to appreciate the orchestra of horns and assimilated with the Indonesian way of life, you’ll realize that crossing roads is really not that difficult.
The key; is The Hand. Don’t underestimate The Hand. It is the non-religious equivalent of Moses parting the Red Sea. Stick out the hand, puff up your chest and start walking. This is where cars of all sizes and motorcycles miraculously begin to deftly swerve around you. Jaywalking takes guts and it takes skill, but most of all you need The Hand. Without it motorists will just assume you have a death wish; think of the gesture as a polite way of saying “Excuse me kind sir, I would greatly appreciate it if you didn’t smoosh me.”
There are other methods too of course, some of which you should apply when the situation allows it. One of them is the Human Shield; simply crossing the road adjacent to an Indonesia local or fellow ACICIS mate that you don’t quite like. This way, if the front bumper of a car does decide to fuse with human flesh, it won’t be yours. Besides, local Indonesians have been crossing these roads for years, so they’ll know when the timing to do it is just right.
One of the afternoons when I was crossing Bunderan H.I. to get to Grand Indonesia, I whipped out my innovativeness and tackled the traffic by sneakily walking behind the safety of a warung in transport. The pedagang kaki lima was very much impressed with the genius of it all.
The main point here is that crossing roads can be scary and in all seriousness, very dangerous. Be aware of where you are and take notice of sharp turns and hidden corners. Don’t assume that a light in your favour means its safe to cross. EVER. As stated above, there are no traffic rules. Look both ways, tell your mother you love her and be safe in the streets of Jakarta.