Jakarta by Jakartans

A wordy Jakartan summarised my impression of Jakarta aptly with this metaphor:

Jakarta will always be complicated. It is like a Durian. 
Not all the people like Durian because it is big, with spiky, dun coloured skin and has a very strong smell. On the inside though, it has a really soft and moist tissue and taste like heaven. 

Jakarta is just like that. Harsh, rough, and sometimes so raw that some people just can’t accept it. But if your willing to come closer and see the inside of Jakarta, you will find bursts of color, the warmth of the people and the fusion of culture from almost every part of Indonesia.

Thanks Lesthia for summing it up so well, although I’m dissapointed to hear that you have retired your dirty dancing shoes, Hijab and beer bottle swigging attitude from Ally’s ‘Black’ Bar – because that was my other favourite metaphor for Jakarta!

Doing what he said without even knowing it.

I feel compelled to draw attention to this quote provided by L in a comment on another post. The reason I was compelled to do so was because without knowing it, this explains exactly why Jakarta was so fascinating:

“Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology. He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart through the world. There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.”

Carl Jung

For those that still doubt the relevance to their world, especially those living a cosy, secure life, I suggest otherwise if you consider that your world is a purely pyschic world, as Jung did:

“All comprehension and all that is comprehended is in itself Psychic, and to that extent we are helplessly cooped up in an exclusively Pyschic world.”
Dili has its own challenges, its own way of confronting the senses, the conscious and I assume the unconscious and i’m still grappling with the right words to describe it. More later.

Its ok, I’ve adapted

Customs inspection went well on Wednesday. I arrived at DB Schenker office and Mr Farried who is handling my case and who happens to be a bike enthusiast took me out to the bike on his 150cc Kawasaki. It sounded horrifically tinny but it looked good.

DB Schenker, Tanjung Priok, Jakarta
When we arrived literally just around the corner (Easy walking distance) I realised that the location on my Delivery Order document of APW actually stood for Agung Public Warehouse, and that was as specific as it needed to be – because when we walked in and asked for “Motor” they all got excited and took us straight to it. No need for bay numbers or anything fancy when your goods stand out so much.

If I had of known this, I would have gone straight to customs and told them the bike was ready for inspection and not bothered waiting around nearly an hour for the Schenker people, because besides doing some translating and taking me for lunch and actually being really nice people, they didn’t really help much! Instead, because we were at APW already I had to persuade Mr Farried and the APW people to let me go back to customs, because I wanted to make sure the customs inspector knew that I knew Mr Sofwan (his boss) and that Mr Sofwan knew that particular customs inspector was dealing with my shipment.

As it was the Schenker people, including the normal customs clearing agent (who I met on Friday and still don’t trust) warned me that I might be looking at about a 2 million IRP ($200 AUD) ‘Inspection fee’. I was left with no doubt that this fee was a bribe for the inspection officer. I indicated that if it ever came up it was to be referred to me immediately. My couple of hours in Mr Sofwan’s office had demonstrated to me that there was typically a list of charges attached to the documents in each customs folder (copies of all my documents had gone into a similar folder). These charges were reviewed and signed off by Mr Sofwan. My feeling is that if the charges were written down and available on an invoice or receipt of some form signed of by Mr Sofwan, then I would have no real way of arguing with them. If anything was asked for that wasn’t on paper signed by Mr Sofwan, then it was a bribe and I wouldn’t be paying it – i’d simply play the dumb Bule card and ask for it to be included on the paperwork to be paid later.

So, due to the messing around it was Lunch and of course nothing was going to happen for an hour. All you ppl who work 9-5 in the developed world should thank capitalism that banks and post offices and government buildings don’t just shut down during lunch hour – when would you ever get anything done?

After lunch we headed back to APW with our customs inspector. With much excitement and a crowd we headed to the bike, which seems to be in about the same condition as when I left her nearly 2 months ago (April 7th!). They then spent a lot of time taking photos and trying to scrath the engine numbers onto making tape for their files. Eventually they were happy. I made sure to mention a number of times when they took copies of my documents (again) that a folder of documetns already existed, that Mr Sofwan was my friend and he had already approved them. Seemed to go down a treat and not a single mention of ‘inspection fee’ arose. Happy with that, even if it means it just shows up later on paper! I figure if official documentation of such fees doesn’t scare them no level of protesting from me is going to get them to change anyway.

Unfortuantely, Mr Sofwan was not in the port office on Wednesday – he was out at the head office. So, it meant that due to my name dropping it appears now that nobody is prepared to stamp the Carnet and that I’ll have to get Mr Sofwan to do it himself! Not sure how that will go, but if it has helped me avoid a $200 bribe then I’m happy to wait an extra 2 days.

So, still no bike but its ok – I’ve adapted to local time now and really, another couple of days when i’ve been waiting 25 days already and my visa is about to expire is really not going to matter.

201 Posts, Still no bike…

The bike is definitely maybe available tomorrow. I have had this confirmed from other independent sources now, which helps keep my head above water.

These are the events that have been confirmed by multiple sources as having occurred to delay my bike:

  • There was a strike in the Port over the week-end
  • There has been 2 public holidays with a 3rd this week if it is not out tomorrow
  • One of the shipping manifests for goods that were shipped in the same container as mine were incorrect, so the whole container was way-laid until the over-all manifest could be adjusted.
  • Singapore shipping wouldn’t release the cargo because they don’t know what a carnet visa is and thought that (temporary) imports of motor vehicles to Indonesia was prohibited.

And I haven’t even ridden it in a single country other than Australia yet!

A guiding light

In a world of shades and shadows
You were my beacon in the dark
Your sweet innocence draws a crowd
I’m but one, a moth to your halo.

You spread waves of light against the tide of darkness
It flickers and flutters
Rippling to the pulse of an uncertain beat
At risk of being gutted by rips of jealousy
It reverberates slowly

Through the rapids of affection and attention
where rocky hands tear at the crest
Over the the depths of deceit and debauchery
where the peak is lost but the swell remains
Onto the welcome shore of love
where the waves of light deposit bright new grains

This moth follows the beacon
Mindful of the darkness
Greedy for the life giving light
Contemptuous of the heat
Wary of the waters of sin

A spear of spray, a veiling mist of culture
Perilous liquid forms, forever changing, forever unsubstantiated
Weighting the wings, dragging this moth
To the depths of debauchery and deceit.

Where the nebulous lights of the discotheque twinkle and burn
The curious moth investigates each in turn
Failing to learn, each discretion
Stirs up a dark storm of excretion
And sets the white light a’churn.

The forces of darkness rejoice in the muck
They find their missing voice
The light becomes diffused, this moth confused.
Pain ensues and clears the skies
The beacon shines bright, visible again
And this moth heads for the light on weary wings

Dry, rejuvenated and refreshed
Rescued from the shades and shadows of here and now
By the halo, it passes beyond
Leaving the light, to shine bright
To noursih another, on this dangerous voyage

Though rapids of affection and attention
Over depths of deceit and debauchery
Guided by your waves of light
Onto the welcome shores of love.

Post number 199!

Been a good, productive few days.

Decided to visit the Jakarta Customs today despoite not having the notification from Schenker that the bike had been ‘Stripped’ yet. (First the container gets un-loaded, then it gets stripped).

I have nothing but good things to say about Jakarta customs at this stage, they were impressive.

I arrived about 10am, was informed I couldn’t enter because I didn’t have a collared shirt. Hotel is about an hour and $5 one way (thats a lot) taxi ride away, so shot off to the nearest market and got a shirt for $6. Its nice too.

Back to customs, its 12 noon, Friday. Everybody is at lunch and prayers. The Client Co-ordinators sit behind floor to ceiling glass panels and I could easily see when my contact – Mr Kurniawan arrived. Once he did (about 1pm, much better than the 2hrs I had to wait for Schenker) I reported to the conceirge and was taken straight to him, skipping the que (bonus!).

He was shocked that Schenker was taking that long. Because I had all the paper work he proceeded to take me up stairs and introduced me to the head of teh division that would clear the Carnet. We sat and talked with his boss intemittently over teh next 2 hrs while the whole department seemed to work on the paperwork required for my bike. 2 hrs later, everything complete except the physical inspection they give Schenker a call to see why they take so long and to arrange the physical inspection. Monday is agreed and I’m out the door with everything but one last hurdle to jump.

Thank you Indonesia Customs!

South East Asia by Harley

I ran into this Italian guy on the street in Jakarta. He has riden his Harley from Italy down through the Stans, China, Pakistan, India and then itno SEA, through Indonesia to Bali where he sips the bike to Japan and then goes home through China, Russia and Mongolia.

He had some great info on the Chinese / Pakistan border which unfortunately wasn’t promising. But what got me most was his quiet, understated nature. Then I checked out his website and was blown away by his photos, they are beautiful.

You can check out his pictures here – be patient, there are a lot so it takes a while to load.

Happiest when I’m active

Its very easy to sleep during the day in Jakarta. Most people seem to do it, the librarian at the UN section of the National Library who is looking for a journal for me has just now apologised because she hasn’t found the book yet and she is going off to have her after lunch nap!

The last week I have been living almost on a nocturnal basis. Its quite strange, but once in the rythym is kind of addictive somehow. My body clock now operates pretty well on the following hours +/- an hour or so:

0900 hrs – 1100 hrs: Wake up, Mandy, cooked b/fast, Internet / meetings.
1500 hrs – 1700 hrs: Return to Memories Hotel, Mandy, sleep, maybe read.
1900 hrs – 2000 hrs: Wake up, Mandy, cooked dinner, beers.
0200 hrs – 0400 hrs: Farewells, Makanan time with the Memories Hotel ‘family’, Mandy, sleep.


The hard part about this schedule is that a large portion of the waking hours are not standard business hours. In fact for a large portion of the waking hours there is not a lot to do other than sit, talk, drink beer, eat peanuts or maybe go dancing. Networking is not a huge option because lets face it, not many people want to talk about their work at 2am in the morning!

I have found therefore that the time between 1000 hrs and 1500 hrs is critical. I must get something done or else I feel like I’m stagnating. This is a very Bule way of looking at the world it seems, which is a consistent theme for white people no matter where they are in the world. We seem to be always looking for something.

It took me a week to work that out. Therefore I’m happy to report that i’ve had some good meetings this week. Ririn from PwC Jakarta was extremeley helpful and put me onto two organisations that she deals with in her CSR role – Mitra Dhu’afa and the Indonesia Solar Lending Program run by Khaula Foundation.

 Mitra Dhu’afa are a Grameen supported Micro-finance initiative that is assisting poor women in Jakarta. They are working with PwC to develop a PwC Village in Jakarta for the women to build their enterprises and learn about financial literacy and how to be better entreprenuers.

Indonesia Solar Lending Program  is attempting to achieve a very similar outcome as the Mercy Corp, Moris Rasik and Good Returns Energy 4 All Project that I will be working on in Timor Leste. They install small Solar Home Systems into rural villages in Indonesia. They are currently implementing a pilot program in Kalimantan.

Links to all these organisations and more have now been added to the side-bar.

Hmmm, dejavu.

Spent Friday morning running around trying to drum up sufficient USD to pay for my shipping charges. Because my travel money card from CBA is actually denominated in USD I thought I would spend teh extra time looking for a ATM that dispensed USD. This is not uncommon and I actually ended up at a commonwealth bank in the Landmark area (Banking area) because I figured it would be the easiest, cheapest and most convenient – since it is my bank after-all. How silly of me! Turns out that my CBA Travel money card denominated in USD can only be withdrawn in IRP, but I could use my CBA ATM card denominated in AUD to withdraw USD. Anyone think this is a little silly?

I couldn’t even change my money at the CBA because I didn’t have an account with that particular branch! Silly squared anyone?

Due to these delays, I finally got out to DB Schenker at 12, just in time for everyone to knock off for lunch. The receptionist spoke good english and as making goo goo eyes, so I asked her if she had already eaten, she hadn’t so she grabbed her two friends who just happened to be the Cashiers and we went for lunch. Apparently the men were all off praying, which makes sense because Friday is the holy day here.

Once we came back from lunch there was a bit of a que for the Cashiers, so I let them deal with that and i spoke to a few of the poeple waiting. Managed to work out after a while that they didn’t think the charges I was paying were expensive, so just paid them. The only comparison point I had was Australia and they were comparable.

Turns out that if you fold your USD it devalues the money here in Jakarta. I think I’ve heard this before, anyway, the Cashier girls let me off this time 😉 Then came a $5 USD fee for the Delivery order which they let me pay in IRP at a good rate because I had no more USD left. Finaly Mr Dody arrived at about 2pm and the next sticking point was the original sea-way bill. I only had a copy and they were going to charge me $15 USD to re-print. I pointed out that I had never received an original sea-way bill and that it must be there responsibility to provide it, and therefore it was not a re-print because they had not yet provided it. They relented and printed me an original sea-way bill. It was 3pm and I’m starting to get worried that given that its a Friday we are not going to get to customs in time.

Then comes the big one. I ask to be taken to see the bike and a look of amazement spreads on Mr Dody’s face and he tells me that the bike is not available yet, that it has been unloaded but now the cargo needs to be stripped (unpacked). He tells me that the bike will not be available for the customs process for 5 days, not including the weekend! So it will be next Friday before it will be available for inspection and customs processing.

Mr Dody has been very helpful and I put this down to a miscomunication. He never did say that the bike would be ready by Friday but that the Delivery order would be ready on this Friday. At least I have all the necessary papaer work now to proceed through customs when the day comes.

Back to waiting. In the mean-time I seem to have picked up a cold. Had the sore throat, now have a runny nose and head-aches. Hoping I don’t get a temperature any time soon.