…it might actually not be that bad.
(note: this post is the procrastinated continuation of the already posted Viet trip.) m(_ _)m
Yeah, you read it correctly. Jakarta, out of everything else, might’ve actually been good enough.
What? JAKARTA!? The city with one of the worst traffic jam, with never-ending problems of (to name a few) floods, pollution, security, bad public transportation, society’s disorder, lack of greeneries, and the country’s heart of corruption, collusion, and nepotism? Uh-huh, I personally have never imagined I’d ever said something like this, but since I say only the truth – well, most of the time xp – I’ve to spell it out.
First: the city. I’ve repeatedly stated that Jakarta (in particular) is trailing behind its neighboring countries which gained independence years/decades after Indonesia.* For the most part, Hanoi is similar to Jakarta in terms of city’s disarray. Citizens follow no rule while hitting the streets**
– eg crossing the road everywhere, speeding red lights, public transport stopping anywhere they please – whilst downtown Hanoi looks like Jakarta’s Chinatown area (Kota).
The differences? Firstly, there’s no way we’ll ever walk around Kota, strolling its endless byroads, at nighttime. It wasn’t convenient circumambulating the Old Quarter either, though somewhat partly crowded with tourists, but doing exactly that in Kota simply won’t happen. Secondly, Hanoi’s local public transportation still has doors. Ours? They’re nonexistent. Thirdly, Hanoi’s narrow byways are turned into three-way streets with two-wheeled vehicles driving on both sides in opposite directions. So, whether you walk on the left or right, you won’t be spared from oncoming bikes/motorcycles.
Fourthly, the honking – duh. The top reason as to why I came up with the opening statement is exactly this point. When our tour guide mentioned that the two core abilities drivers in Hanoi should master are braking and honking, I didn’t think much into it. Well, it shouldn’t stray far from Indonesia’s counterparts, no? I don’t know who came up with this first, but I’ve heard and uttered that “if you can drive in Jakarta, you can drive anywhere else.” Yet I didn’t see any reckless driving there; besides, our driver drove cautiously and smoothly.
But it was the honking that I couldn’t stand. It was okay at first, but after two-three days, the eternal honking really got to me. We were blocking no roads; we were walking on the sidewalk(!), for goodness’ sake. And yes, when we needed to cross the alley, we looked on both ways for more than twice to ensure our own safety. So why did they have to honk that frequently??
I realized that it started irking me when my mood turned sour seconds after hitting the lanes for the second/third time. Just drop the irritating honking already!
Yet only after we came back safely to Jakarta did I realize how polite indo’s drivers really are – when the journey home was so quiet. I who used to bark at honking drivers in Jakarta started to appreciate how ‘patient’ they are compared to those in Hanoi. And I who have been griping about how disorderly my hometown is began to see that it actually isn’t that bad. For probably the first time in my life, I have to disagree with the saying “the grass is always greener on the other side” – what? My grass is definitely greener!
It’s arguably pitiful to be appreciative of one’s country only after seeing how good it factually is compared to other ‘lesser’ countries. Well, Indonesia isn’t the worst country out there anyway – it’s quite modern actually – but maybe it’s necessary. Just like how one needs to look down for him/her to see how well-off the current situation he/she’s in.
*) Ego or whatever, I find it kinda funny that we could be inferior to any other country but Malaysia. Such as during soccer matches or quality of freeways – wherein one speaker stated that the latter is much better in Malaysia, which enables the speeding up to 120km/h; in Indo, the limit is 80km/h else we got an accident. But yeah, even the newly built freeways here are admittedly poor in quality (read: bumpy).
**) But what can we say, not all rules are logically sound. I’ve wanted to say this for months now, that requiring – no, FORCING – motorbikers to turn on the lights during daylights is pure sense/mindless. When the world has been homing in on energy-saving practices and such, here in Jakarta with allegedly 11 million motorbikes energy’s being wasted rashly every single second. Nice~