I’m loving the motorcycle. It gets me to roads and places I’ve not been to before. This is an alley I have been down, but I’ve never come down it from this direction. Good times.
I resolved to get to know my city a bit better. I bought a motorcycle in the early days of December, and, now that it’s finally licensed, I’ve been driving it around my neighborhood. I bought it so that I could get to and from work more easily, but it’s offered so much more than a commuter vehicle ever could.
Jakarta is an immeasurably large city. There are five areas, as far as I can tell, that actually make up the city of Jakarta: South (where I live), North, East, West, and Central. Then there are all the other towns, villages, cities that have been absorbed by the greater Jakarta area. On top of that, the council of people who plan out how the city develops seems to be non-existent. Streets start and stop, lead to suicidal corners and dead-ends, narrow to daredevil dimensions. If rhyme and reason play any part, they are a funeral dirge to the hopes of newcomers wishing to get to know their new city.
Add to all of that the “macet” (literally translated as “jammed” – referring to Jak’s horrible traffic), and buying a car was out of the question. So I bought a motorcycle. What’s great is that, in the three or four days of driving it around my neighborhood, I’ve already scouted a number of places I had no idea existed.
What you see above is an example of one of those places. I particularly love the juxtaposition of the mosque and the graffiti.
I’ve found some new-found freedom here in the Big Jak. I’ve been driving my motorcycle a lot this week, now that I finally have licence plates for it, and it’s given me some ability to get around and snap photos that I’ve not had the opportunity to take.
This girl, painted on a wall at a corner on a one-way section of Jalan Kemang Raya, watches me every time I go by her. Today, I got out and took her picture. I like her headband-ears.
Now that I’ve got mobility, I think it’s time to find some more street art.
I am somewhere around 188cm tall, and just over 100kg. This makes me huge by Indonesian standards. Everyone is so much smaller than me. I particularly enjoy my experiences shopping here. I’ve asked the salespeople if they have shirts for guys my size, or pants for my size, and I get total honesty. No run-around at all.
“Do you have a shirt my size?”
No checking in the back. No asking around. No looking on other racks. They know that I am an anomaly.
So when I bought my motorcycle and the salesman delivered it with a helmet, I was cautious in my optimism. It turned out that the biggest helmet they had sits quite a way above my head, not so much on it. I had to do some hunting, but the helmet that you see above not only fits, it fits well. It was more expensive than some, less expensive than many. I tried on twenty helmets, and this one did not leave me gasping for air, claustrophobic, or feeling like I was going to tear my own ears off trying to remove it.
…is so happy right now. I make a point of stopping over at my new motorcycle whenever I return from work, and even though I have to wait for the licence plates (or not, according to my friend Setyo) I am still really excited. When I was a kid, I always wanted a motorcycle. Now…I’ve got one. The little boy inside my head is smiling all the time…and will continue to smile until I actually have to remember how to ride, shift, brake and throttle. I’ll let you know how it goes.
For now, I’m posting another angle on the Vespas up my street. I will bring my camera with me tomorrow, and snap some new stuff. In the meantime, please accept these broken-down vehicles.
These Vespas are on the way to school. I’m in the market for a motorcycle right now, and if the rules for buying one get any more complex and the “ease” of getting one gets any less easy, I may make an offer on one of these. Maybe the one without the seat.
The most fun way to get around on foot is to take these back alleys. I often am not sure where I’m going to end up, but that’s the adventure of wandering through back lanes.
It should be said that most of these alleys are, in fact, full roads that are used by motorcycles and cars. And no, they’re not really big enough for that, but that’s how they’re used.
Before I moved to Indonesia, I had seen photos of South Asian families riding on motorcycles. The whole family. Parents, kids, babies with groceries, backpacks and whatever else all packed on what we, in Canada, referred to as a scooter. Some little 125cc Honda.
Then I got here and witnessed it for myself. One part of me is excited at the prospect of getting a motorcycle and riding around Jakarta streets. The parent in me has little, maybe no, interest at getting my kids on my bike and riding with me.
How does the saying go? When in Rome? or Jakarta?
The Vespa is alive and well around here in Jakarta. This one? Not so much.
PHD is Pizza Hut Delivery. They are delivery only. There are Pizza Hut restaurants all over South Asia, but in Jakarta there are Pizza Hut Delivery joints that are delivery only. That sounds like a good idea, but the pizza is kind of dodgy. The all-meat pizza has “sausage” on it, but I swear it’s hot dogs. The stuffed crust is pretty good, but I’ve yet to find a really good pizza here in the Big Durian.
I do, however, love their delivery guys. They fly around Kemang Raya (for those just tuning in, that’s the big road we’ve got going on here) delivering pizza very quickly riding on this fleet of red motorcycles, as you can see above.
I saw this gate post on the way home and I thought it looked cool.
What do you think?