Thursday, November 8, 2012

Are We There Yet?

"Macet Tidak Bagus Mrs".  It's a common phrase and it means, "the traffic is bad Ma'am".  Rob must persevere mostly with this daily inconvenience as his commute to work keeps him deep in the mass of cars, vans, motorbikes, pushcarts, street vendors, 'buskers' and pedestrians daily, at peak hours.  I can often be a bit more particular about when I choose to enter into the throng!  A good peruse from our apartment's 23rd floor windows provides a bird's eye view of the local traffic conditions, and can often make my decision to stay or go forth, unless of course, I must be somewhere at a certain time.   

At the moment, Rob and I travel around the city via Silver Birds, Blue Birds and occasionally, other taxi cab companies.  Today, I was heading out early, so I ordered a Silver Bird and introduced myself to a really friendly driver who was cheerful and knowledgeable about where I wanted to go.  (And, he didn't have the rear seatbelts buried under the backseat, so I could even travel safely buckled up!)  It was a new destination for me, but I had done my homework the evening before with google maps to familiarize myself with the route and some landmarks. 
"Lewat jalan apa?" is another common question asked by the cab drivers... "by what route, or how do we get there?"  The last time I lived here, that question was not the least relevant to me, as our family's very reliable and capable driver, Suito, always knew just where he was going and by what route.  So, this is a new responsibility for me - to know my way around! Ha! Sounds simple enough! It's a matter of safety and convenience to be able to do some backseat driving so as not to be taken advantage of and led down the garden path, and to know the streets to avoid, some shortcuts, etc...
This is us attempting to merge into the nearby main artery, Jalan Profesor Doktor Satrio. It can be quite a trick breaking through the wall of motorbikes.  There is no traffic light at this intersection or rules for merging that seem familiar.  You just keep nosing your way into the crowd and hope for the best!  I wonder why it seems that holding your breath, or leaning a bit in your seat to the left or the right somehow helps in the negotiating of the vehicle squeezing through traffic?!

The overhead pass that you can see in these photos will eventually help with the congestion, when eventually they finish building it. Sometimes, in the wee small hours of the night, I can hear machines, banging and clanging, and know that this build is slowly progressing. There is no sign of it's progress during the daylight hours however. The rainy season is approaching, and the rain and flooding will wreak havoc with a traffic system already groaning!  Patience is needed, and a good book, or an ipad, to keep you occupied during the long car rides. 


All of these photos were taken within 300 metres of our apartment. So this is just the beginning of the journey from A to B.  But what is the use of complaining about it?  Rob comments, quite calmly, "we'll get there when we get there", and then proceeds to practice his language skills with plenty of opportunity to chat with the taxi driver. 

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