Bus Ride From Hell

I had a chance today to wander around some of Jakarta’s more “gritty” areas. Raw, visceral, and brimming with textures, I rarely tire of simply hitting the streets with my camera. I do, however, grow increasingly annoyed with the act of getting to these places. Since I don’t use a driver, I punish myself with the traffic on a daily basis. There’s hardly a day that passes when I truly believe my chances of getting hit and/or hitting someone else are below 99%. When I had the big bad-ass Blazer it wasn’t a factor cause I was the one with the “C’mon, bump me!” attitude. Now that I have a new Honda, the roles have reversed and I’m the one who’s paranoid about getting side-swiped.

Without throwing exaggeration or frustration into the mix, I can honestly say that I’ve never seen a city with worse drivers in all of my life. It’s not so much that people are sleeping at the wheel – because they know they’re making poor decisions. When you have gigantic buses storming along at 120km/hr ON THE SHOULDER, you know there’s just a different respect for lives. Mungkin mereka mau bertemu Allah.

There isn’t any true answer to this problem. If I hire a driver, then I’m placing my life (and keys) in their hands. I had a friend who came back from a 2 month vacation only to find out that his driver stole his car – and the insurance wouldn’t cover it cause technically, it was his own driver. If I take a taxi, (besides having the chance of being robbed literally, or non-literally), I am without a much needed seat-belt in addition to the fact that they’re likely pulling an 18 hour shift to pay the bills. Motorcycles are out of the question since my head-on collision in Bali this past July. And bajaj are, well,…bajaj. The only option left would be a bus – which clearly isn’t an option in the first place.

I would absolutely love to see Jakarta build and maintain an effective, safe, and corruption free mass-transit program. I realize it’s a pipe-dream, but if Bangkok can pull it off why can’t we?