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.