I’m taking you on a walk today. You’ll need to be nimble, have 20/20 vision, good hearing and a sense of humour. Kick off your kitten heels and put on your flatties, I can assure you that you’re going to need them. The roadside thermometer reads 36c and 75% humidity outside but don’t think about taking a water bottle, it’s Ramadam, the holy month of fasting. Even if you are not muslim, you can’t be seen drinking/smoking/chewing gum or eating in public in daylight hours. I can tell you are going off the idea of this walk already, aren’t you? You’ll be fine just follow me, I’m an old hand now at these sorts of things.

Sorry I forgot to say watch out for that hole – there’s an open sewer down there….

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and another!

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Ah, that’s sweet, a man giving his cock a bath

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Fantastic! an open stretch of pavement, we can realy build up a bit of steam here but watch out, the paving stones are not level

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Oh dear, that was short lived

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The food stalls are all closed up. This street is normally busy with people eating.

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empty-warteg

another booby trap

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an interesting bit of planning

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at least the chickens are having fun!

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I think we need to get back on the road

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Here’s a fancy bit of DIY, not sure it can take my weight though…

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Hold your nose and watch your step! I dread falling in here, especially when it’s slippery from the rain.

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‘Make do and mend’ as they say in Yorkshire

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Oh dear, more stumbling blocks.

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More booby traps.

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Bit of a tight squeeze here….

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I did warn you not to wear your kitten heels, you didn’t believe me did you?

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Oh look, lovely Dengue Villas! We are home, definitely time for a medicinal vodka.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your walk with me? I’m sure my friends don’t believe me when I say it’s almost impossible to walk in Jakarta but maybe these pictures give some idea of the perils of trying to get out and about by foot. It’s one thing making these journeys in the daytime but no fun at all in the evening when it’s dark or when it’s raining. Because of school holidays and Ramadam ,the roads are quieter than normal which is nice because you are less likely to get squashed when walking on the road, which is for most of the time. Aside from the desperate paving or lack of it, anyone living here has also to contend with bad pollution and the effects of lead from all the traffic fumes. All in all walking is not the pleasure for me here that it once was. And, if I feel hard done by that, imagine what it must be like for those less able bodied or blind? No wonder the roads here are gridlocked with bikes and cars and the pavements are mostly given over to food carts and places to dump rubbish, they are truly un-walkable.

37 Comments

  1. Lottie, are you sure you are not in Hong Kong? Cocks aside, this all looks very familiar. More Health & Efficiency please and a little less Health & Safety.

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    1. I did, I felt just like a H&S inspector going around taking those photos, I almost felt embarrassed! At one point I was so busy taking a picture of something that I did almost fall into one of those holes, I’m sure it would have served me right πŸ™‚

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  2. Who would have thought open drains can be so informative. Don’t worry, we have similar problems of open drains here as well.. A nightmare at night alright.
    But what can one do.? I can’t imagine that with the roaring economy in Indonesia things will not improve. At least ‘korruptie’ is being tackled better than in Sukarno or even Suharto’s days.
    During the Dutch colonial days there was some order and provided trade was followed, most kingdoms and Raja’s did what they wanted. While we were there some years ago, many oldies agreed that with the Dutch things were run a bit better but as with so many other nations becoming independent, it takes a lot of time and effort to get to a state of non- corrupt governments.
    South Africa is now also going through terrible times with murder and violence worse than ever before, but… that’s freedom. It will get better.

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    1. I really don’t know Gerard but I’m sure that you are right. I worry about the Indonesian people and their needs, they are very long-suffering. For example, It’s agony watching so many people having to deal with an antiquated, overcrowded public transport system on grid-locked roads trying to get to and from work each day. So much valuable time and manpower is wasted by being stuck in traffic jams here.

      Corruption is a killer and the ‘lost’ money could be going to much better causes than lining the pockets of the one’s least deserving of it. Indonesians deserve better than this and so I hope that things change dramatically for the good of the people soon.

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  3. I’m very worried Lottie. I want to know who started the rumour that I was wearing kitten heels in the first place. In the second place, what is a kitten heel please?
    I’m sorry you have to risk those streets to take a walk. They’re unhealthy and dangerous.How and why the people of Indonesia, or at least Jakarta put up with it I don’t know. There is money there to pay the politicians, so where is the money to see to the needs of the residents going? The Government had good plans in place from the Dutch Colonial days to show them how to run things properly but as long as they remain a divided people they’ll never taste true freedom from what they considered the Colonial Yoke and start to built a nation to be proud of.
    The photographs are alarmingly clear in showing how badly things are run. Any Politician that has the Country’s best interest at heart should be given them and asked “What are you going to do about it? World opinion is based on things like this.”
    xxx Hugs xxx

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    1. You mustn’t worry about me! Jakarta for all of it’s faults is a very safe place – it makes London seem like the Bronx. As for kitten heels, I”m so sorry to have let the cat out the bag….hehehe

      Indonesia is developing fast and I’m sure in time all of these niggles will be ironed out. It’s the same for any country new to a democracy, it takes time and the right sort of government to sort it. Whenever I start to get critical about things here I have to remind myself of what a mess the UK is in at the moment – it helps to give a sense of perspective. We wouldn’t have this job here if it wasn’t for the fact that our government back home was making radical cuts in further education. At least Indonesia values what Irishman brings to the table via his expertise and knowledge. That says a lot! XXX

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  4. I don’t think you are catering for a kitten heel readership. I’ve certainly never had any in my life, nor do I plan to, so I was wearing my rather dirty training shoes on our walk.

    There are no open drains in Spain and Gib, but pavements are hit and miss. If there is one, great, but do look out for any works, holes, trees, trees that have been uprooted (Partner fell into an empty tree hole which was useful as it miraculously cured his bad shoulder), cracks, missing/uneven stones etc. Also parked cars forcing you into the already narrow road.

    I admit you win on the open sewers, but as for the rest of it, I could probably take similar photos in either place.

    My gripe tends to be the motorists who have no consideration for pedestrians and not only park on pavements but insist they have right of way on the road too. Right is might. I had nasty spat with a (British) van driver who was driving far too fast in an area without pavements, in a narrow street.

    On a lighter note, our cock is bigger than his.

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    1. Enough of bragging about the size of your cock! ….I’m sure there are crap pavements all over the world. In London people bicycle on the pavement and skateboard and there’s dog shit everywhere – nowhere is perfect! and if people trip up over a raised paving slab they sue the council.

      As for the kitten heels, I’m not sure if I’ve ever worn them either, I’m more a stiletto girl myself but, I’d like to think that this blog caters for every type of heel and footwear.

      I’m with you on the motorists parking their cars on the pavement – fine if you are walking but not good if you’ve got a buggy to push or a wheelchair.

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  5. And we kick off over a few potholes caused by cold and ice. We don’t realise how fortunate we are in the West. Thanks for opening my eyes a little more. If a girl can’t wear her kitten heels where and when she likes something’s not right! X

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    1. You city girl you! πŸ™‚

      I shall never cease to be impressed by Indonesians patience and perseverance. They put up with crap that we’d go nuts about back in the UK. I think it speaks volumes for the nation as a whole. I ended up doing about 2 hours of walking yesterday and this morning I can hardly move! πŸ™‚ XXX

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  6. Yikes. It is no wonder the street was not filled with people eating with all those open sewers. I would think navigating those booby traps in heels would be a good way to preserve one’s balance through the years. OTOH, one slip is one too many and never forgot.

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    1. Well the fashionable Indonesian girls all wear really high heels (I’m most impressed) but they arent’ the type to dream of walking down the streets that I do – you are more likely to see them in places like Grand Indonesia shopping mall or any of the other glittering palaces of consumerism. I once wore really high heels and almost broke my ankle, I had to spend an evening in A&E getting it sorted – so un cool!! πŸ™‚

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  7. HAHAHA!!! Ahh.. now I see how easily I could adapt to Jakarta.. looks just like ‘home sweet home’ (ie Bali)!! Though I still think our island wins in terms of: sheer variety of obstacles, creativity in home-bred solutions and numbers of motorcycles gracing (and greasing) the sidewalks. As result, I think I shall begin to call them sidecycles instead πŸ˜‰

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    1. and in Bali they have that really weird thing where the ‘pavements’ go up and then down – it must be an absolute nightmare if you have a buggy or wheelchair to push. Kaki Limas are the main obstacles here but they’ve vanished during Ramadham (in day time) so there’s a bit more space. Motorcycles on the pavements is a no-no, you don’t really see that here probably because I think they’d end up in one of the sewers or do a cartwheel on one of the booby traps πŸ™‚

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  8. Hiya Lottie – ooh it’s quite scarey. It’s like that story about Heaven being where the British are the law makers and the Italians are the Lovers and then hell being where the British are the cooks and the Italians run the government etc..or something terribly stereotypical like that… but perhaps if the Italians could just be brought in to do the footpaths and the Japanese come in to build the tunnels (which they did so very well in Melbourne) … that would be a good plan. I felt that Jakarta today could be likened to turn of the last Century London – that incredible vibrancy of development but without any way of pulling it all together – until one day the Parliament decided it was just too damn smelly and crazy. I think the same thing will happen in Indonesia … because it is chock a block full of clever, young people.
    To some extent though I also blame ‘donor’ governments who have funded toll roads and great bridges etc (often with foreign contractors filling their pockets) because – let’s face it, Japan, Australia, the US all need Indonesians to buy cars to keep that dead industry going – rather than supporting a sustainable, integrated transport infrastructure and urban development. Perhaps we only have ourselves to blame for exporting our usual failed Western dross …

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    1. They are definitely worse than Ubud, the only difference is that here we don’t have the hawkers that you have to put up with – that constant ‘driver mister? taxi mister’ that drives (hahaha) me crazy!

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  9. Hi Lottie! Oh, such memories of Bali too! Ha ha. I just wish I could have gotten photos of a few people actually doing their laundry in some of those drainage passes but I didn’t dare. Another unexpected item were the trees that were embedded in the asphalt on the side of the road. As I was riding my bike in Seminyak and was looking over across the road, I almost took myself out on a tree because it was actually IN the road where I was riding. Hati Hati !!

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  10. I’m also wondering what a kitten heel is and where I can get them πŸ™‚
    I think I will send your photos to our city council, it may make them feel better about their total ineptitude in maintaining our streets.

    We could do with a fast day or two here. Perhaps people could discover they can actually survive going two blocks without the need to slurp on water or coffee.
    An eye opener walk, and one where eyes need to be kept open.
    Be careful out there

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    1. Thanks Rod πŸ™‚

      The fasting is serious business during Ramadham and I have to say, I take my hat off to all muslims that do it. It can’t be easy.

      Yes, walking is a real eye-opener here. I would love to walk for hours and hours but the humidity makes it quite gruelling, not least the pollution. I’m looking in to where to buy one of those masks. Not attractive but if I can find one that can really blocks out the lead then I might make longer forays out from the apartment. I used to walk a lot and I hate not being able to exercise. I’m not a gym girl, never have been but walking is something I enjoy and miss terribly.

      Here’s a link for kitten heels! πŸ˜‰

      https://www.google.com/search?q=kitten+heels&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=-G_fUdPFBoHUrQfctYCYAg&ved=0CAkQ_AUoAQ&biw=1280&bih=601

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  11. Fascinating. I thought the sidewalks in Indiana were in bad shape. I might fall on my face here if I don’t look where I’m going, but at least I won’t fall in the sewer. Sadly, no roosters.

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    1. I read a terrible story in the Jakarta Post, or Globe can’t remember which about a Jakarta woman falling into one of the sewers (she slipped off the pavement) and dying. The roosters are wonderful. It never ceases to amaze me that in this great megalopolis there are cows, goats and chickens living amongst the houses. Even with the mad traffic that constantly flows past our apartment day and night, i still can hear the odd cockerel crowing and it’s quite comforting in a way πŸ™‚

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  12. Loved this post. Brought me right back to Jakarta. There was (suspect it’s still there) a near lethal drop into open sewer on my way to work everyday. I had a deep fear of falling in while I lived there. Happy to report it never happened!

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    1. Oh Lydia, I have the same fear too! I just responded to an earlier comment about some horrific story that I read in one of the papers here (shortly after we arrived) about a woman slipping into one of those sewers at night and dying – what a hideous way to go. Glad you loved the post, thank you πŸ™‚

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  13. What a perfectly lovely morning walk. I put on my combat boots and army poncho which seemed to be the most appropiate. Hope these were ok for the neighbohood walk about. πŸ™‚

    And I gotta tell you- dry, drab, and dull central Texas never looked so good after I returned from the Jakarta walk.

    Gee the streets and side walks here look like paradise- no open sewers, no chunks of concrete and no men giving their cocks a bath for all the world to see. Gee can’t the guys show a bit more respect for their cocks/ roosters?

    I’ve always thought that we were a bit cock-eyed here in Texas but now I’m not so sure. πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks so much for your comment Yvonne. The army poncho and combat boots sound perfect, I’m very glad that you took my advice about the kitten heels! πŸ™‚

      If you are interested in reading more about Jakarta, do click on this link. I found it today and it’s definitely worth reading if you have a moment. It’s a scarily accurate description of Jakarta and what is going on here currently as well as in the past. Doesn’t make easy reading but illustrates perfectly just how hellish life in Jakarta is for many people

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2012/02/17/take-a-train-in-jakarta/

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  14. Even though it’s been over a dozen years, this reminds me of the autumn/winter I spent teaching in India. I don’t recall any pavement problems, but I do recall sewer challenges, exploding intestines, many lovely cows, my morning drive to work when I’d look out the window and see, whoops, someone making a dumpster by a dumpster. I could go on but I think that sums it up. Fun times. Gee, I feel a post about India coming on………

    I know India has made many improvements since the time I was there, so I’m not sure what the conditions are today. With time, I was able to see through all that stuff and get to experience India as “almost” a local. Staying in India for a week is a vacation. Staying in India for four months was a life-changing experience.

    Your pictures paint a very good portrait of life in Jakarta and the challenges. It’s heartbreaking, isn’t it? One of the things I found so endearing is that the people of India were so generous when they had so little. I’ve always admired that and tried to remember it.

    Very nice work.

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    1. There are some Indian interns currently working in Pete’s faculty. They can’t get over how toxic Jakarta is – In the link that I put under Yvonne’s comment the writer describes Jakarta as ‘The most unliveable city in Asia-Pacific’ I think he’s probably right.

      I’d love to go to India, I have a feeling that I will adore it, warts and all. I practically live on Indian food – in fact I’ve just made dhal for lunch so I’m not kidding you!

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      1. My bro-in-law is east Indian, so we love the culture! My sister has learned to cook a lot of Indian food. Mmmmm.
        There was a lot of pollution in India several years ago; I’ve heard it has improved, but still a problem. You never appreciate something simple and basic as fresh air until you don’t have it. In India, all my clothes when they came back from the “dry cleaner” (I never really found this mysterious place my lodgings sent my clothes to), came back smelling like gasoline. Ugh!

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      2. Oh No! That’s the pits having your clothes smell of gasoline! yuk πŸ˜› maybe they just ran over them with a truck or something to press them?

        Jakarta is horribly polluted and you are absolutely right, you really don’t appreciate something as wonderful as fresh air until you don’t have it.

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  15. This reminds me of the day my best friend came from Hong Kong. He was shocked to find out the fact that some of the streets in Jakarta even don’t have pedestrian walk. I live in Kemang in South Jakarta so when we walked to eat at a nearby restaurant, he was overwhelmed by the endless motorbikes, literally only a few inches away from us.

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    1. It certainly takes a bit of getting used to! Kemang isn’t so bad for walking though, you have much better ‘pavements’ than we do in Pancoran. The other thing that I like about Kemang are the leafy, tree-lined side streets, they are quite nice to walk around. There’s no doubt about it, Bama, Jakarta is a culture shock for most people and yes, the amount of motorbikes is incredible! Stay safe and don’t slip into a hole πŸ˜‰

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